The dream of doing the great American Road trip has been instilled in me ever since I saw Thelma and Louise. I was romanced by the red deserts, long highways, truck stops, shady saloons and of course Brad Pitt. Since that first piece of wanderlust was embedded many other films have fanned the flame, including the film I saw this week while in America – Chef. (I always go and see a film while I am travelling – it’s a great way to have a “quiet” night while still doing something that locals would do – plus I love seeing what different places offer at their cinema “snacks”)
Chef which was written, produced and starred Jon Favreau and is a feel good family film that explores what happens when the main character looses his passion and integrity. He discovers that the best way to reignite those paths is to get back in touch with his family and love of food. Along the way there are cameos from Scarlet Johansson and Robert Downey Jn and many others who caused me to grip my friends arm and say “oooo that’s the guy out of…” while she shushed me.
As Chef Carl Casper travels from Miami to LA in a food truck, using twitter to promote his food we are given a taste of America’s south through vivid colours and mouth-watering food images.
By the time I walked out of the theatre I was hungry (which was surprising considering the amount of maltesers I had consumed through the film) – but I was hungry for something specific, a Cubano Sandwich. I confessed to my friend that I had never tried one – or any Cuban food for that matter. She looked at me in horror and decided that my stay in America would not be complete without some margaritas and a Cubano Sandwich.
The next night we headed to La Bodeguita del Medio in Palo Alto (Silicon Valley) – it was chosen due to its rave reviews ion Yelp (if you are travelling to San Francisco download Yelp as its a great app for finding the best restaurants and things to do!).
Due to the level of anticipation and hunger we turned up at the restaurant rather early, and as it was mid-week thought that the place would have been empty. Oh how wrong we were, the place was packed and there was already a wait for tables. Luckily the sun was still shining so we opted to eat outside.
We poured over the menu while sipping on Margaritas – none of the names looked familiar so my friend graciously explained each delicious item to me. Finally we narrowed down our selection and placed our order – when we had finished our waitress commented “Are you sure, that’s a lot of food, you may not be able to finish it” – while this made us nervous that we were about to eat till we exploded we decided to keep our order and push through.
The first items to come out was the Shrimp Ceviche and Plantain Crusted Goats Cheese Salad. I have had Ceviche before but not like this – it was a fresh and complex, leaving me wondering with each bite what exactly was in the sauce. The salad was one of my favourite items (it could be because it has cheese in it and we all know how I feel about that) – I am not sure what Plantain is, though my friend described it as a banana thing… whatever it was it was crispy and full of flavour that perfectly offset the goats cheese.
Next we dug into the Masitas which was shredded pork with rice and beans – however that description is way to simple for what we ate. The pork was slow cooked in all manner of juices and spices that my inexperienced tongue couldn’t decipher, I almost wanted to suck the flavour out of the pork just to savour it for longer.
Finally we finished with the Cubano Sandwich. It not only lived up to expectations but it blew them out of the park. After watching how a Cubano should be made in the movie I was gratified to see that all of the elements that Chef Carl Casper had stressed had been adhered to. The moist pork coupled with the smokey bacon, a generous helping of mustard all coated in a gooey layer of melted cheese. All of this sat on a perfectly butter glazed bun.
It was very lucky that we were sharing as otherwise I would definitely have exploded. As it was I was pleasantly full – top button of my jeans did have to be undone and I did waddle to the car at a very slow pace, but it was worth every bite! Thanks for the recommendation Jon Favreau