About Rachael

I'm Rachael Faught, a food loving, globe-trekking geek girl extraordinaire. Based in Los Angeles, I am dedicated to the life of a true bon vivant, experiencing all life has to offer and then promptly writing about it. When I'm not on the go, I'm typically at home cooking up a storm and obsessing over Attack on Titan with strangers on the internet.

Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show GIVEAWAY

Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show

There are people who get excited when the circus comes to town, and then there are people like me who go bananas when the Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show rolls in.

In a Nutshell: The 10th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show is where travel lovers come for travel inspiration, expert information and fun, cultural interaction. It’s where you’ll discover thousands of authentic travel experiences and speak directly to the travel experts who can get you there, give you the inside scoop, and save you money on exclusive travel deal.

Considering I have big travel goals this year, the timing could not be more ideal. I will be taking the train down to the Long Beach Convention Center (of which I am most familiar with in the years Anime Expo made LBCC its home) and dividing my time between: sniffing out deals on airfare in the exhibitors hall, the Taste of Travel Stage, Savvy Traveler Stage, and Global Beats Stage.

From 10:30 until noon on Saturday, I plan to park my butt at the Global Beats Stage to enjoy some culture:

  • Dances of Thailand
  • presented by: Tourism Authority of Thailand

  • Dances from Guam
  • presented by: Guam Visitors Bureau

  • Bollywood Dances
  • presented by: Bollywood Steps

  • Dances from Malaysia
  • presented by: Tourism Malaysia

  • Folk Dances, Marshal Arts Costume show & Demo of Falun Gong
  • presented by: New Tang Dynasty Chinese Group

    Then I’ll book it to the Savvy Traveler Stage for How to Improve Your Travel Photography with Ralph Velasco at 1:45.

    After that, I’ll peruse the Exhibitors Hall and see which airline is gonna give me a sweet deal to Ireland where I intend to make my home base for my European excursion 2015.

    Bubble Roller Land Orbs

    Highlights of the Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show:

    Door Prizes including gift baskets, travel accessories and getaways ~ here is your cheat-sheet to find which booths are holding sweepstakes.

    Guest speakers throughout the weekend: Rick Steves, Samantha Brown, Peter Greenburg, Phil Keoghan, Josh Gates, Pauline Frommer, and Joseph Rosendo. Food-centric speakers include Vanda Asapahu (Ayara Thai); Riko Bartolome (James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour); Chef Mike Lofaro (Humu); and Percy Whatley (The Ahwahnee, Yosemite).

    Hands-On Activities: “Be a Diver Pool”, Bubble Roller Land Orbs, climbing up a rock wall, and more!

  • Tickets
  • Online: $11 for one day or $17 for two days (use promo code: LAPR). Children 16 and under are free. At the door: Cash only, for $16 for one day and $25 for two days. HOWEVER, you can enter below to win a pair of tickets so you can start making that dream destination a reality!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    a big thank you to the Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show for hosting this giveaway and permitting use of their images. Full Disclosure: I was not fiscally compensated to host this giveaway or promote the sponsor.

    15 Dishes to Master in 2015

    I don’t really do resolutions anymore ~ the really only resolve I have for this year is to be bolder with myself and more generous towards others. Vague, but attainable on both a small and large scale. Concrete goals I reserve for my kitchen only – namely, recipes I want to master. In 2014, I got out of my comfort zone to up my culinary prowess, and with only a little bit of ego, I can say I did pretty damn well. Nikujyaga, miso soup, lamb milanese, Welsh rarebit, pozole de rojo, onigri, and the creamiest macaroni and cheese I ever did eat. Time to push onward, and these are the dishes I want to master in 2015:

    Mushroom Butter Masala
    Mushroom & Pea Tikka Masala
    photo: Yummy O Yummy

    I found success cooking Indian food in 2014, but now it is time to really hone in on all of the delicious vegetarian varieties so that my mom will eat it without feeling guilty. She isn’t a vegetarian, but she prefers her evening meals to be thus.

    cheese souffle
    Cheese Soufflé
    photo: Cathy Arkle

    I am growing irritated at my ever increasing love for Chef Ludo Lefebvre, whose YouTube channel I recently subscribed to when I caught the link to his cheese soufflé video on Twitter.

    Omelette aux Champignons at Bouchon
    French Omelette
    photo: Larry

    I can make an omelette – in fact, I can make both American and Japanese omelette – but I want to be able to cook up a perfectly pale yellow French omelette. LOOK at how exquisite and sleek that egg is; it kills me. I want to be able to do that.

    Delicate Chawanmushi
    photo: Soon Koon

    I have had only two experiences with chawanmushi: one bad, the other excellent. Both restaurants are a high caliber, so when I initially attempted it, I thought it was just me merely not enjoying the dish. When I tried it again this past summer, though, I wanted to lick the bowl clean. I think the key is what goes into this Japanese eggy custard dish, and I’m of a mind to get really indulgent and go big with some uni and caviar.

    The Pouting Poached Pear
    Poached Pears
    photo: Daniel Paras

    I attempted poached pears once – with miserable, bitter results. It’s rare I make something everyone unanimously loathes, but this was one of those ill-fated dishes. I adore poached pears, though, and I want to rise above my failure finally and own it.

    Cute Bento
    photo: Muar Chee

    It’s no secret I’m currently on the breadline, but I like to fix lunches for my mother and brother to take to work. Mom is healthy eating all the way, so she is already lost to me, but my brother is fair game and has been forewarned about the oncoming storm of edible cuteness heading his way.

    2013 Phillies Spring Training 16
    Soft Pretzels
    photo: Thomas

    One cannot live in a suburb of Philadelphia for nearly six years and walk away without a love for certain foods – chiefly among them, soft pretzels. I know this tripping eyeball deep into the dreaded baking territory, and in all likelihood I will fail spectacularly, but if I get at least one pretzel correct it’ll be worth it. I’ll also make a horribly unhealthy cheese sauce to go with it.

    "How To Make Sushi" 05/11
    Sushi Roll
    photo: Asian Brasserie

    I attempted this way, way back when I had no real business cooking more than a basic bolognese and it showed, trust me. I scarred myself so bad with these lame-o “sushi” rolls that I haven’t mustered the courage to give it another go, despite allegedly being stupidly easy. Well, the time has come for me to finally conquer this once and for all.

    Lobster at Summer Shack, Boston!
    photo: Satoshi Kawase

    Grill it, boil it, poach it in butter and champagne – any which way you dice it, I am a fan of lobster and I have yet to decide how I plan to prepare it. The point of lobster on this list isn’t in the preparation, but the fact that it is time I am able to look a sea critter in the eye, give it thanks for nobly being part of the food chain, and dispatch it as humanely as possible, with my own hand and knife.

    Shrimp Congee @ Great NY Noodletown
    photo: John Sonderman

    This is one of those dishes I have little to absolutely no experience with eating, save for the sweeter Western rice porridge, which I love. Now it’s time to venture to flavors of my Eastern brethren and explore the savory side of congee.

    edits.summer salad-3
    photo: Joan Nova

    Don’t look at me like that. Half of you are thinking, “Who the hell doesn’t know how to make a salad?” and the other half is going, “STEP AWAY FROM THE GREENS, RACHAEL! WALK BACK TO US SLOWLY!” It’s okay. I will not be giving up my ice cream sundae with a slide of deep fried McDonald’s cheeseburger ways, but I do want to actually be able to make a salad and enjoy it. So far, I’ve had minimal luck with the latter, which is odd considering how many fruits and vegetables I enjoy. I blame shitty house side salads and romaine lettuce (aka the BANE OF MY EXISTENCE) on me hating salad. So this is the year I am going to DO SALAD RIGHT and actually enjoy it! Tips appreciated.

    Chilled consommé of LOBSTER-CAVIAR
    photo: InterContinental Hong Kong

    I cannot explain my joy for consommé, other than to say it is something of comfort food for me. When I am truly ailing in the hospital, as in just been admitted or eating for the first time after surgery, I will undoubtedly order low-sodium beef consommé. My favorite dish at my go-to Mexican joint, My Taco, is their house speciality, barbacoa lamb tacos with a side of goat consommé. I cannot even describe the multilayered flavor profile this simple yet utterly unique broth possesses. Finally, the pinnacle, was a chilled seafood consommé at Bottega Louie some years back. They have undoubtedly moved on, but this gorgeous dish has inspired me to tackle my own version of it sometime this year.

    photo: Luke Chan

    I don’t care how trite and geeky this is, but this ultimate hangover food is going to be conquered. I’m going to make it for my friend Evan and I, we’re going to drink ice cold beer and marathon some goddamn anime like true weebs. It’ll be awesome.

    Gastrocast #131
    Homemade Sausage
    photo: Neal Foley

    This has been a goal of mine for years, especially with a lack of decent Irish and British bangers in our area. When my sister-in-law received a meat grinder for her Kitchen Aid, I thought it was only a matter of time before we’d be fixing up our own breakfast sausages and bratwurst. Time and lack of it has kept her away from the kitchen and I think it’s time I step up to the plate and borrow said grinder and have a crack at it myself. I’ll be sure to share with them, of course.

    Grilled Octopus
    Grilled Octopus
    photo: Premshree Pillai

    I wanted to tackle this project in 2014, but opportunities kept slipping me by and I never gained the confidence I wouldn’t completely let the octopod go tits up in the grilling process. Octopus, like scallops, are one of those tricky “a second more on the heat source and it’s fucked” kind of foods. I’m solid with the flavors I’ve decided to season with it – citrus and herbs – but the grilling process is going to be something else entirely.

    So, there you have it! 15 in 2015, and I think this is actually a pretty tall, but manageable, order. What will you be cooking up in your kitchen in 2015?

    Conquering Recovery and Netflix: Week Two

    A photo posted by Rachael Faught (@moonstruckq) on

    Last Friday I had my follow-up with my surgeon, who gave me clearance to ditch the binder I’d been issued and slowly go about my business. Emphasis is, of course, on slowly. I got a little too confident maneuvering in the kitchen and between reaching a bit further than I ought to have and the fact that I can’t wear a bra, I pulled my muscle a bit. It doesn’t help that I am still swollen and bruised – so my skin is extra sensitive. My nurse checked on me yesterday and didn’t think I did any major damage – just a bit of strain. So I took it easy today and have been focusing on a huge Mix CD project for my friend Liz. Oh, Liz. You have no idea what you got yourself into.

    My mom speculates that my nerves are zinging with heightened sensitivity, and I think she may be correct. I have a particular sensitivity to my stomach regardless of major surgery, but add that on top of everything and I am a squirming mess. I just need to find a project that will keep me amply distracted and safe and not bored out of my mind. I would love to say that this is the perfect time to tackle the pile of books I have to read, but alas, most of my books are in stacks because we did not finish erecting my renovated bookshelf in time before my surgery! Yup. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Ah, well. Time to review the titles I got through in my Netflix queue this week!

    Synopsis: Happy takes viewers on a journey from the swamps of Louisiana to the slums of Kolkata in search of what really makes people happy.
    Opinion: I’m pretty indifferent to this documentary; it was edifying in a generic, scratch-the-surface kind of way to open up the discussion of the scientific study of how people generate happiness. I wasn’t surprised by some of their findings, but still came away feeling more informed than I had been before I began
    Rated: Three stars

    Spinning Plates
    Synopsis: This gastronomic documentary profiles three distinctive restaurants based in very different locales: Chicago; Tucson, Arizona; and Balltown, Iowa.
    Opinion: We all know I’m a sucker for a solid food documentary, and Spinning Plates is no different. This film made me hungry and pulled on my heart-strings while filling my head with knowledge. I appreciated that the filmmakers decided to profile 3 types of restaurants – not just A list Alinea or only hometown legend Brietbach’s Country Dining. I’ll not say much more other than if you’re a fan of food documentaries that profile both the establishment and the humans behind them, watch this.
    Rated: Four stars

    In Your Eyes
    Synopsis: Two strangers on opposite ends of the country have a telepathic bond that lets each one see what the other sees, a deep connection that leads to love.
    Opinion: I confess, this was not actually in my queue. Mister J put it on and I found myself sucked in despite myself. I was particularly drawn to the very accessible character of Rebecca, portrayed by a new favorite Zoe Kazan. The juxtapose of settings reminded me a lot of The Good Son, but otherwise the similarities stop there. I think overall it is a quirky cute movie and I actually gave a damn what happened to our two main characters. Give it a watch.
    Rated: Four stars

    With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story
    Synopsis: Explore the life of comic book legend and pop culture icon Stan Lee from his Depression-era upbringing through the Marvel age of comics.
    Opinion: Geek girl that I am, I honestly did not know too much about Stan Lee before watching this, aside from the friction with Jack Kirby and the longevity of which he has endured at Marvel. I think the biggest surprise of all is the 60+ year marriage to his wife Jane and how, uhm, bombastic? passionate? their relationship can be. I, for one, do not get my jollies by arguing – especially with a significant other – but apparently the Lee’s do! Hah! The evolution of Marvel is the stuff of legends and I’m pleased this documentary was 85% Stan and only about 15% other people talking about Stan and Marvel.
    Rated: Four stars

    Dear Mr. Watterson
    Synopsis: Nearly two decades after the last original “Calvin and Hobbes” was published, this documentary examines the comic strip’s enduring legacy.
    Opinion: Unlike the Stan Lee documentary, this is one which features everyone but the aforementioned Watterson, a known recluse who famously opted out of merchandising his iconic comic characters. Whether you agree with his decision or not, this documentary focuses on how Calvin and Hobbes not only influenced a wide variety of people – from the average student to Watterson’s peers – but the comics industry as a whole. I really enjoyed it, and my inner 8 year old was particularly happy.
    Rated: Four star

    Cheaper by the Dozen (1950)
    Synopsis: An eccentric efficiency expert and his good-tempered wife raise 12 lively children, although their quirky methods often lead to raucous misadventures.
    Opinion: I’ve never seen the remake, and only became intrigued by the original film when it popped up as a suggestion by Netflix. My mom prompted me to watch it with her one evening and upon seeing that Myrna Loy portrayed the matriarch of the Gilbreth family, I became enthused to watch it. As I get older, I find myself a touch more critical of older films due to their less-than-savory take on women and social issues. Cheaper by the Dozen had such a moment with a Planned Parenthood representative that made me roll my eyes. Regardless, the core story of actual scientist Frank Gilbreth and his industrial engineering psychologist wife Lilian is endearing as lovingly narrated by their daughter based on the book of the same name, penned by two actual Gilbreth children.
    Rated: Three stars

    What have you been watching as of late?

    Conquering Recovery and Netflix: Week One

    A photo posted by Rachael Faught (@moonstruckq) on

    No, I haven’t forgot you, dear blog. I’ve just been busy, and then of course, major surgery. Seems to be a running theme in my life these last few years, to have a surgery between the fall/winter. Well, my latest surgery happened last week and now is the time to trudge down the long and hard road to recovery. I’ll be at home, or relatively sequestered away, for a solid 8 weeks. I’m not permitted to lift or strain myself in any way – so it’s just a lot of loafing around. On the surface seems like an amazing thing for a lot of people, but speaking as someone who has undergone many surgeries and lived a mostly shut-in life these last few years, this is torture.

    So it’s time to set some goals for myself – however frivolous they may seem in the grand scheme of life. Case in point: My Netflix Queue. I currently hold 127 titles in my instant watch. Of said 127, roughly 29 are titles I have viewed previously and therefore do not count. The remaining figure is 98. It is currently my goal to complete half of this number (and since it’s odd, we’ll just round up) within 8 weeks. Get through 47 titles of my Netflix Queue. This includes:
    comedy specials
    TV shows (I’ve either yet to start or never completed)

    49 does not divide evenly, so let’s round up again to 50, which will give me 6ish titles per week in 8 weeks to accomplish. This probably does not sound like a lot to many of you, but for me, it is. I’m also tackling some writing and holiday card projects on top of everything, so that will keep me busy, too.

    Every Friday, I will round up the titles I’ve watched and check them off publicly with you with a brief synopsis and if I enjoyed them. As of today, week one of at-home recovery has been completed and here are the titles I conquered from my queue:

    Carol Channing: Larger than Life
    Synopsis: The astonishing life of Carol Channing unfolds in this entertaining biopic, which captures the bold Broadway legend’s outsize personality.

    Opinion: I cannot even begin to describe the adorableness of this documentary, nor will I even begin to explain why it made me cry like a little bitch. Just watch it. Even if you hardly know who Carol Channing is, just watch it. Rated: five stars

    Miss Annie Rooney
    Synopsis: A poor inventors daughter (Shirley Temple) falls head over heels for the son of a millionaire rubber magnate. But joining his daunting social circle proves to be difficult.

    Opinion: I used to be such a Shirley Temple fan, but I truthfully had never watched any of her teenager movies until now. As this film is the only one available on Netflix, I gave it a go. I don’t think the latter half of the description is accurate; this is more of a case of a girl whose self-serving father keeps screwing up her chances. I wasn’t a big fan, to be honest. Rated: two and a half stars.

    The Restaurateur
    Synopsis: In this foodie documentary, director Roger M. Sherman shadows restaurateur Danny Meyer in an attempt to find out what fuels his business cravings.

    Opinion: I think the Netflix synopsis is somewhat misleading, or vague anyway. This documentary does shadow Danny Meyer, but its main focus is the two restaurants Danny is bringing to life in Manhattan. What goes on behind the scenes of these two very different restaurants from conceptualization to debut and a little beyond is really the plot. Rated: Four stars

    Inside: LEGO
    Synopsis: The famous colorful building bricks company nearly becane a pile of plastic rubble. Here’s how they re-built the dream.

    Opinion: What an interesting story. I honestly had no idea that LEGO was ever in trouble, so this was insightful. I have a friend of the family that works for LEGO in Denmark, so this gave me a glimpse into his job. My only complaint is that it was far too short! Rated: five stars

    Advanced Style
    Synopsis: This documentary profiles seven stylish New York City seniors who disprove the notion that advanced years and glamour are mutually exclusive. Brought to us the blog of the same name.

    Opinion: What a fabulous documentary! I am tickled every time I see a fabulously unique and stylish elderly woman walking around town, and I look up to these women to continue be as fabulous as I can no matter what age I am! Rated: five stars

    Sushi: The Global Catch
    Synopsis: This documentary traces the history of sushi from its origins as Japanese street food to its current status as an internationally popular cuisine.

    Opinion: Once again, a misleading Netflix description. This documentary does touch on the history of sushi, but its main focus is the sustainability of bluefin tuna and the consequences of supply and demand in the sushi world. I think every sushi enthusiast should watch it and become more aware of the problem at hand. This is definitely an issue consumers are going to have the most impact with. Rated: five stars

    I hope you will join me every Friday as I cross off another week of recovery and another week of reaching my Netflix goal.

    BOOK: Bake Knit Sew by Evin Bail O’Keeffe

    Evin and I met in 2012 via Twitter when I was preparing for my last trip to Cork, Ireland – where she and her husband and their son have made their home. Like Evin, I feel a very strong connection to Cork – call it spiritual, call it kismet, call it The Force; whatever it is that brings me back again and again brought Evin and I together and getting to sneak peek her debut book, Bake Knit Sew is just a perk of friendship.

    Now, I am not a knitter. I can barely sew. Baking is an exercise in forbearance. However, my friend Evin not only revels in these hobbies, but dedicated her first book, Bake Knit Sew, to all three of them!

    Bake Knit Sew features twelve original recipes (one for each month of the year, divided by season), seven original knitwear designs, five original sewing projects, two photocopy-ready templates for sewing projects, and over 80 full-color pages devoted to this seasonal collection of recipes and patterns.

    It was with great honor and privilege that I took my hot off the press e-book with the utmost seriousness and sweated it out in my kitchen to replicate one of her idiot-proof recipes. Here is the end result:

    Honey Orange Loaf Cake - from Bake, Knit, Sew
    Honey Orange Loaf Cake

    Not too shabby a job of chemistry for someone who only made it to Earth Sciences, eh? Even when I substituted orange zest and a tablespoon of OJ for the orange extract, my loaf cake came out fragrant and bold with the harmonious marriage of orange and honey. Baking two loaves allowed me to share with friends and family while still keeping some for myself. I definitely recommend this treat with a good cuppa!

    Festive Bunting

    What inspired you to create Bake, Knit Sew?

    Evin: My book Bake Knit Sew was inspired by my life-long dream to write and publish a book, my passion for food and crafts, and my desire to not put off following my dreams. The combination of content together came about from my longing to have such a book when I first learned to knit. Bake then, I’d have been confident trying new baking recipes, so having something I’m good at and something that something that challenges me in the same volume would have been an ideal way to face new obstacles in creativity without buying an entire book devoted to a craft I had yet to master. The seasonal theme came about from talking it over with a friend and once that was decided, the book fell into place in my mind.

    You have made Ireland your home now; which Irish food products/brands have you really enjoyed working with in the kitchen, or just snacking on in general? (I’m partial to Irish cheese myself)

    Evin: One of my very Irish habits is enjoying tea. I now have a big golden tin of Campbell’s Tea (Dublin) in my kitchen of loose tea from which I make my morning cup. And on days when I’m very tired, there is a mid-day cup as well. And you’ve not tasted mushroom pizza until you’ve had it with Ballyhoura Mushrooms. Of course, what is Ireland without scones. My favourite is at a local restaurant called Fenn’s Quay. I love Kerrygold Butter. I bought a different brand by mistake once and my husband insisted it be relegated for greasing pans and not used as an ingredient or on our toast. My son’s favourite food is actually lightly toasted freshly baked bread with butter. In general, Irish dairy products have a rich flavour and the butter is known for being quite a cheerful shade of butter yellow. This is attributed to the natural grass diet of the cows here. I also love the scallops! My husband swears by Rosscarbery Recipes free-range pork products, though I don’t eat pork myself.

    Any new projects on the horizon?

    Evin: I am working on the second book in the Bake Knit Sew series as well as a few publishing projects by other authors for Anchor and Bee. The second Bake Knit Sew book will have the same format, but focused on gender-neutral children’s patterns inspired by the sea with recipes encouraging families to bake together.

    Falling Petals Lace Shawl

    Evin developed the recipes, created the patterns, had them tried and tested and fool-proofed, snapped the photos, everything. In addition to tackling this momentous project, Evin is also an award winning blogger (2014 Best Craft Blog, Blog Awards Ireland) and launched Anchor and Bee Publishing. I am quite literally amazed by her talents, and consider myself supremely fortunate to call her my friend.

    Bake, Knit, Sew eBook edition is available exclusively through Ravelry, while the paperback edition can be purchased by Anchor and Bee directly! Enter the passcode BLOGTOUR for 10% your entire purchase!

    Follow Evin!
    EvinOK | Anchor & Bee Publishing | EvinOK on Facebook | Evin on Twitter | Evin on Ravelry

    The Raymond Restaurant – South Pasadena

    The Raymond Pasadena

    Long time Pasadena residents and loan operator Rob Levy and his wife Leslie never quite set out to be the owner of one of the most historically rich and subtly acclaimed restaurants in all of Los Angeles. He just wanted a simple piece of property in a quiet, hilly neighborhood straddling the border of South Pasadena and Pasadena. The owner of the property would only sell Mr. Levy the building on one condition: that he purchase the former caretaker cottage of the once illustrious Raymond Hotel along with it.

    The hotel was established in 1886, suffered a horrendous fire on Easter Sunday 1895, and was then rebuilt into a luxurious 300 room haven for the budding Hollywood elite like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. For a more in depth article on the history of The Raymond Hotel, please visit KCET.

    Rob, Leslie, plus business partner Gary Weyand, maintained a reliable if basic fine dining experience for roughly thirty-five years before deciding it was time to elevate The Raymond Restaurant to new heights. An interior revamp to Craftsman style glory, the hiring of chef Tim Guiltinan, the launch of 1886 Bar and a complete menu overhaul has amplified The Raymond House’s reputation from a nice place to go for a special occasion to the top of every local’s MUST EAT list.

    I, for one, have been aching to dine at The Raymond Restaurant since I first moved to South Pasadena in 1997. Once the opportunity presented itself to me, I kind of went…batty. And greedy. Really, truly, madly, shamelessly greedy. We’re talking the personification of deadly sin Gluttony itself. Of course, I dragged my mother along because 1) I could let her take a partial fall for my edacity and 2) I think she would evict me if I didn’t invite her. So gird your loins and ready your appetites, my wee gluttons. You’ll be calling The Raymond House for the first available reservation in no time.

    The Raymond Pasadena
    Bonito Crusted Beef Sashimi
    fried garlic | jalapeño salsa | Pitchfork dressing

    Call it tartar, call it sashimi, call it carpaccio – it’s raw (or near raw) beef on a plate; it never fails to beckon a primal, cave-woman appetite that I am more than happy to indulge. Bonus for the fried garlic and jalapeño salsa for that extra punch.

    The Raymond Pasadena
    Tale of Two Cities
    rum, apple brandy and eucalyptus

    Mom had a difficult time picking from the rum-heavy This cocktail is split into a duet, with one served up in a coupe glass and the other on the rocks in an Old Fashioned glass.

    The Raymond Pasadena
    Wild Northwestern Mushrooms
    forest soil | salsify | smoked vinegar | “hay”

    Every time someone declares their hatred of mushrooms, a wood sprite drops dead. Just think about that the next time you wrinkle your nose at fabulously fungi-forward starters like these Wild Northwestern Mushrooms! I was a fan of all of these mushrooms, but I have a soft-spot for enoki. The “hay” was also surprisingly tasty and held its own against the other stars of this appetizer.

    The Raymond Pasadena
    Strawberry & Pea Salad
    local chevre | pea tendrils | Creminelli bresaola | lemon dressing

    If salads were more like this one, I would probably indulge more in them. More than a mere palate cleanser, this revitalizing appetizer utilized the best of summer flavors all in one dish. Do not pass up on it!

    The Raymond Pasadena
    French 86
    gin, lemon and Champagne with strawberry liqueur

    I’m a sucker for a solid champagne cocktail. I managed to sip this throughout the appetizers and main course, a far cry from my usual knock ‘em back in one swig approach. Good on me.

    Pork, Peaches & Bourbon - The Raymond Pasadena
    Pork, Peaches & Bourbon
    crispy belly | masa pudding | sweet peach salsa | bourbon

    My least favorite of the appetizers, but only because I’m still making an effort to love pork belly as much as the entire world says I ought to. I’m trying, everyone, I’m trying. I loved the masa pudding and sweet peach salsa, though!

    The Raymond Pasadena
    Octopus & Bone Marrow Bruschetta
    radish | carrot | tomato | toasted bread

    This dish is akin to finding a lotto ticket on the ground and finding out said lotto ticket is the sole winning ticket to a seven-figure winning. I love bone marrow, and I love octopus – and it makes me truly believe that I must have a soul mate somewhere out there in this big world of ours that someone could conceptualize and bring this beautiful, triumphant marriage to fruition.

    Beef Cheek Pasta Strappata - The Raymond Pasadena
    Beef Cheek
    pasta strappata | peas + carrots | fried egg

    It was still summer when I ordered this and wound up taking 70% home with me, but from what I ate I positively love. Rich and homey, this dish is 100% comfort cuisine at its finest.

    The Raymond Pasadena
    Roasted Duck
    haricot vert | smoked onion | hazelnut | “Flavors of the Forest”

    Believe it or not, I loved my mom’s dish even more. Duck is very hit or miss with me, but this was a knock-it-out-of Dodger Stadium home-run kind of dish for both of us. I would order this in a heartbeat.

    The Raymond Pasadena
    roasted peaches | duck fat financier | honey cured & noyaux apricot kernel ice cream

    I do not know how I let our waitress talk us into desserts. I was fine; fine, I tell you! However, between the eager staff and my dessert-greedy mother, we went for it. Knowing I couldn’t handle anything richer than my entree, I opted for this delightfully whimsical and fresh fruit-forward dessert.

    The Raymond Pasadena
    Strawberries n’ Cream
    rose scented vanilla custard | glazed strawberries | almond meringue | creme fraiche ice cream

    Mom went for this, my second option. She wasn’t into the meringue, so we swapped components of our desserts to blend them together in one harmonious medley of summer fare.

    Steeped in glamorous L.A. history and brimming with mouth-watering edible innovation, The Raymond Restaurant is Pasadena’s best poorly kept secret. P.S. Don’t forget about brunch!

    The Raymond Restaurant
    1250 South Fair Oaks Avenue
    Pasadena, CA 91105
    Phone: 626.441.3136

    The Big ReBranding

    Blank Greeting Cards

    A lot has been going on over here at Glass of Win – or rather, behind the scenes since new material hasn’t shown up on here for nearly two weeks. Many people have already noticed on my social media outlets, and I’ve only loosely spoken to a few people about it in private, but right here, right now I am confirming that yes – I am rebranding Glass of Win.

    I started slowly, to first see if I liked the name and if I could get balance my two worlds – or, more importantly, if I want to keep these two worlds separate. Within two weeks I found my answers:

    1. Yes, I like the name I have chosen: Moonstruck Quaint (shortened from Quaintrelle, which was a mouthful)

    2. Not…really.

    When I launched Glass of Win in 2009, the blog was a catch-all for all facets of my interests. About a year later, I shaved down the blog to focus solely on food, events and travel. I struggled greatly to maintain my unique voice and lost it along the way. Over the last year I have desperately tried to gain it back and really show off my personality, but I realized there are so many facets of my personality that I have denied on Glass of Win and that was why I’d lost my voice in the first place. I want to incorporate these topics back into my blogging and build upon my already existing audience.

    What does this mean for my media contacts? Nothing! Contact me. I may not take on as many food related blogging as I did before, but the quality will be amplified.

    What does this mean for my readers? Only that you will be getting to know me on a deeper level as I let all my geeky glory hang out.

    What does this mean for all of the food/travel content? It’s staying and will continue to be a dominant feature on Moonstruck Quaint ~ I’m just adding more categories to enjoy!

    Why don’t you just add those categories to Glass of Win? This is where I kept circling back in indecisiveness, but it has become evident that I have become quite disenchanted with what Glass of Win is and I feel “stuck” here, so to speak. A new name means a new opportunity to not only build on what I have established here, but to usher in newcomers who will view my blog and YouTube Channel with fresh eyes. I need to continue my journey under a new name; a name that resonates where I am in my life currently and how I want to identify myself as a blogger and individual. The name “Glass of Win” reflected where I was in 2009; now, five years later, Moonstruck Quaint is where I am.

    When will the URL change? This is still a mystery to me, especially considering all of the content I have here. I’m doing research still about moving said content as seamlessly as possible, but my best guess is sometime close to the New Year. I have a surgery on December 2nd and pending the outcome and recovery process will determine the URL switch.

    In the meantime, I’ll be a lot more active building Moonstruck Quaint content up on social media, especially YouTube – but updates here on Glass of Win will still roll in.

    Thank you everyone for being part of Glass of Win! I hope you enjoy Moonstruck Quaint just as much – or more!