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.

A Taste Of: Zagreb, Croatia

I love Zagreb!
photo: Christine Zenino

It’s been a while since I’ve traveled (for leisure and not a wedding), and I’ve longed to have wanderlust related content, so I’ve asked my international friends to contribute to Glass of Win with their favorite local spots and tips for travelers. Please welcome my friend Barbara, a Croatian native born and raised in its capital city, Zagreb. Zagreb is located in the northwest of Croatia, along the Sava river, at the southern slopes of the Medvednica mountain. It’s the only area of Croatia with over one million residents and boasts a rich cultural scene with museums, music, performing arts and of course, food and drink. The latter of which Barbara will be discussing.

You’ll often hear Balkan people take a lot of pride into their food. Croatians will, of course, take pride into everything that is considered Croatian, especially their food. And how could we not? Croatia is the meeting point of many cultures, geographically and historically. It’s a place where Central European, Mediterranean, East European and Turkish kitchen meet, and it’s the best of all worlds. In my humble, Croatian opinion. If, by any chance, you stumble into this part of the world, there are some awesome places to eat, visit, and hang out – from a students’ perspective.


Slasten burek iz sača
photo: Peter Malovrh

Bakeries for Snacks
We love pastries. And after a night out, or in between classes, it’s most likely people will aim for warm bread, or a nice, hot burek, a be puffy pastry filled with meat, spinach, or cheese. This originated from Turkey, their version of the Greek spanakopita. Also very good for hangovers! They are all over town, but there is one and only bakery of choice for many students and night owls: Dafina. Favorite combination? Meat burek and a croissant filled with Nutella.


cafe in old town
photo: Tiago Bortoletto Vaz

Sweet tooth? No problem. Do you know about Hansel and Gretel? In these parts they are more known as Ivica & Marica, and that is the name of my favorite pastry shop. Their cakes are magnificent, the entire place is decorated like the witch’s house and the entire collection of their yummy food is made without artificial colors or sweeteners. And you never just eat a cake there. The best way to enjoy it is to order a nice cool glass of lemonade.

Something to Eat?
Zagreb has plenty of restaurants to go to, and most of them have excellent food. Everyone has their favorites, and mine definitely has to be Sofra. Specializing in Bosnian food that is heavily influenced by Turkish cuisine, it has one of the most delicious, finger-licking meals in all of Zegrab. The way you eat there is: First you order some pita. Meat and spinach are my combination of choice. Then you take a break, sip on beer and order the main. Best way to go about it is to bring as many friends as you can and each one should order something different with extra plates, so you can eat more things from the menu. After that comes the dessert, and after that you can’t finish such a good meal without Turkish coffee.



photo by Barbara

Another favorite place to go to, especially for many students, is any pub that has the word ‘bear’ in it. Mali Medo, Zlatni Medo, Medvedgrad… Other than great beer, they serve great food from all over the country, and are places where you can most often find and meet now people, share a nice chat, listen to some good live music, and just enjoy yourself.

Lastly, and one of my favorite options is one of the many random barbeque joints all over the city. They are everywhere, though their food and hygiene is questionable at best, they’re extremely charming, but unfortunately, they close up pretty fast. I personally don’t think I’ve been in many of them more than once, but my favorite is Čingač.


L1030478
photo: R Arno

Coffee Culture in Croatia in general is very important. There are cafe bars everywhere. Quite literally everywhere and they are the absolute favorite place to be for Croatian folk. Everyone has that one cafe where they’re considered a regular, and as soon as they enter the waiter already knows what they’ll order. It’s pretty simple. Drinking coffee is not just drinking coffee; it’s a social event. When you get invited for coffee at 8pm, don’t be surprised. Most likely, you’ll be drinking beer at a cafe bar.

It’s very common to sit at the table for three or more hours, drinking one espresso. It’s more about talking and hanging out than coffee. In Zagreb, on Sundays at noon starts something we call špica. Everyone comes together and meets at their favorite cafes for coffee and chat and latest gossip. Preferably somewhere around the Main Square. So, if your new and awesome Croatian friends invite you for a cup of coffee, remember to take it easy, slow down, there is no hurry. Enjoy the chat and coffee, scan for interesting people walking by. And while you’re at it, remember to pick up some pastries from the bakery. Those two go excellent together.



Zagreb_1
photo: Mario Fajt


Thank you, Barbara!

Learn More:

  • Croatia National Tourism Board
  • Zagreb Tourist Board
  • Zagreb at The Lonely Planet
  • Let’s Nosh: The Bloody Mary

    BloodyMaryHeader


    I cannot tell you when or where I imbibed my first Bloody Mary, only that my booze swinging days had been irrevocably changed. As I’d been raised with a low-sodium diet, you’d think the peppery, tomato based cocktail would be too strong for my palate – but no. I was in love. I honestly think I’d ordered one for the hell of it. I’ve found Bloody Mary’s to be more popular on the east coast; Californians seem to rarely deviate from their mimosa’s. While I do love me a good Champagne with anything, there is something to be said about this savory vintage cocktail. Over the years, many have evovled this brunch staple, but I don’t like a lot of frills with my Bloodies. Below is a breakdown of my perfect Bloody Mary:

    Alcohol: Vodka plain and simple. None of this “black pepper vodka” or any other flavored gimmick.

    Spice: I want to taste the ideal balance between Worcestershire Sauce and hot sauce. Tabasco is traditional, but I don’t mind switching it up. Cracked black pepper is a must, but again, don’t overwhelm my palate.

    Texture: Smooth puree, thicker rather than watery. I don’t want chunks or pulp or anything I have to chew that isn’t garnish.

    Garnish: Celery stalk is a must, anything else is optional. Green olives (garlic stuffed for a bonus) and a wedge of lemon or lime is most welcome.

    Pretty simple, eh? I posed the question to my friends and here is what they had to say about their ideal Bloody Mary:




    The Elite Sweet Chick Brunch Preview!
    OK, I think I sort of get the bacon…
    photo: Yelp, Inc.




    LAVA Best Bloody Mary Drink
    What the ever-loving hell…
    photo: Edson Hong




    Who Makes the Best Bloody Mary Mix - LAVA
    OK, what is this, a Vegas buffet?!
    photo: Edson Hong


    Talk about fancy-pants royal Bloodies. Something for everyone, though, as a solid Mary is adaptable. Not an overwhelming response, though, huh? I’m telling you, we need to bring The Bloody Mary back to the height of her reigning glory! One step at a time, of course, beginning with:


    Bloody Mary

    The Bloody Mary of Win

    Ingredients:

    1 cup tomato sauce (yes, you read that correctly!)
    1/2 stalk of celery, roughly chopped
    1 tsp prepared horseradish
    1.5 tsp Worcestershire sauce
    1 ounce vodka (I used Skyy)
    1/2 small shallot
    1 tsp hot sauce (I used Frank’s red hot. Tapatio and Tabasco also work well)
    juice of 1 lime
    optional: splash of clam juice or olive brine

    Place all ingredients except the vodka a deep but narrow-mouthed container (such as the one that comes with the CuisineArt Hand Blender) or a small food processor, and blend until smooth.

    Place ice into a cocktail shaker, followed by the vodka and the tomato puree. Shake well before straining out in a new glass. Garnish with a celery stalk, a lime wedge, sweet paprika and fresh ground black pepper. Embellish as you please – be it shrimp, slider, bacon, or whatever your heart desires. Get drunk and be merry!

    Some of you may be wrinkling your nose at the idea of using tomato sauce rather than juice. Go ahead and wrinkle away, but hear me out. I like a thicker, pure consistency with my Bloodies and with the added liquid of vodka, hot sauce, Worcestershire, and lime juice, plain tomato juice gets a bit thin. There is no difference in flavor, so long as you’re careful not to accidentally purchase a tomato sauce with spices and herbs (though I don’t think that would ruin your Bloody Mary, either).

    Food I Love Friday

    FoodILoveFriday2


    Dear god what am I doing, being so slack? I honestly had every intention of being super productive; it’s not as if I am wanting for material to post. Quite the contrary. However, over the weekend, I had a relapse of illness and while the worst of it is over, a lingering earache has been keeping me laid up on my couch, with productivity moving at a snail pace. So here I am, singing Disney songs to my kitty cat Kermit as inch and crawl along. Look at him:

    OK, enough cuteness, on with the food!


    A week of food- Day 2 Breakfast
    Breakfast Porridge
    photo: Louise Docker

    The weather is struggling with the end of summer and the beginning of autumn, though I’m sure the heat will holdfast to Los Angeles well into September. However, breezes are frequent and the early mornings and evenings are generally cool. My cravings for a warmer, heartier breakfast have been rekindled and it’s only a matter of time before I am going to pull out the old rolled oats and start experimenting. I like very creamy, milky oatmeal/porridge with a touch of honey and cinnamon – maybe fresh fruit like diced apples and blueberries. How about you?


    OSAWA Shabu Shabu - Pasadena
    Shokadan Bento

    Ahhh, a place for all of my food, and all of my food in its place! The simple complexity of the neat and orderly Japanese bento is half of its appeal. The other half is, of course, the fact that it is positively おいしい!~


    Rice porridge with abalone flavor
    Rice Porridge
    photo: pelican

    OK, while sifting through the European porridge images I found myself swimming through a sea of Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese and other savory Asian rice porridges. Every time I’ve seen them at dim sum I’ve wrinkled my nose in distaste. These gorgeous snaps from eateries in Asia or home cooked by people who know what they’re doing, however, has my tummy rumbling in a way that begs me to give it a go. Any recipes I should be aware of?


    Good wontons, too!
    Wonton Soup
    photo: Robyn Lee

    While I consider chicken noodle soup to be the penultimate American comfort dish when one is feeling under the weather, my first choice is and has always been wonton soup. Pork and shrimp with a touch of soy and sesame all snuggled up in a delicate pillow; yum! I like my broth light and clear, and the wontons to be accompanied by baby bok choy or spinach. I do not like a lot of clutter with my wonton soup, though. I draw the line right there. Simple, clean, fresh.


    Inari Sushi
    Inarizushi
    photo: David Theduy Nguyen

    This one is out of left field, especially considering I used to detest inari, but as I’ve gotten older and palate has matured a bit, I’ve grown to appreciate the occasional indulgence in this sushi rice is stuffed in seasoned Aburaage tofu pouches. I’m a bit backwards, really, considering inari is typically the gateway snack for Westerners to get into sushi, whereas I skipped that part and went directly to unagi because, hello, what sixteen year old honky doesn’t love eel? Anyway, I can pinpoint the precise occasion when my opinion of inarizushi turned around: I attended a St. Patrick’s Day potluck and one of the women invited made a huge platter of inari. I gave it a go, and what do you know? I’m a fan. Between you and me, though, I think I probably would have enjoyed inari homemade at any point in my life. It was probably just the shitty take away inari that sullied its good name.


    So, regardless if you are a food blogger or not, I’d like for Food I Love Friday to become A Thing with an official link-up form so we can all share each other’s posts and tastes and get ideas. Food brings people together, right? So let’s get together (yeah, yeah, yeah); queue up for next week and at your earliest convenience pop over to Glass of Win to add your blog to the link up! I will hopefully have some sort of official looking form thingy. Just pester me on twitter to keep on it. Hope to see you next week!

    LAFW: Asian Night Market

    LAFW: Asian Night Market



    Well, here is the first of…three or four posts I have for LAFW, or the Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival. Coverage will be out of order, because, frankly, that is just how I roll these days. #Likeaboss. Even though I drank about six glasses collectively over a four day period, I still feel like I am just recovering from the sheer amount of energy a multi-day festival takes out of a person. A Spoonie like me feels the drain all that more poignantly, but I have to say, I would not trade a minute of it!

    LAFW: Asian Night Market - Chef Jet Tila
    Chef Jet Tila


    Although, I’d have to say that due to an overwhelming throng of people, I think Asian Night Market was my least favorite night. I missed out on Chris Oh, one of my favorite Los Angeles chefs, and lamented I hadn’t taken a photo with him when I ran into him the night before. The lines on Friday night were aggravating, and Tanaya and I called it a night shortly after nine o’clock. There were still a handful of tantalizing bites that made the crowds completely worth it, as recorded below:






    Here is a closer look at my favorite bites of the night:


    LAFW: Asian Night Market
    Five-Spice Pork Belly Taco
    Chef: Jet Tila | Pakpao Thai



    LAFW: Asian Night Market
    Hoegaarden Waffle: cilantro, yuzu custard, meringue, lime zest
    Chef: Bart Vandaele | B Too



    LAFW: Asian Night Market
    LAFW: Asian Night Market
    Coco Chili Snails & Beer Caramel Panna Cotta
    Chef: Thi Tran | Starry Kitchen



    LAFW: Asian Night Market
    LAFW: Asian Night Market
    Salmon Sashimi Tacos & Elote Dry Miso Aioli
    Chef: Jason Benavente | Nobu Los Angeles



    LAFW: Asian Night Market
    Tea Smoked Ora King Salmon
    Chef: Brad Farmerie | Public / The Thomas



    LAFW: Asian Night Market
    Indonesian Shrimp Satay: cashew curry, fried shallot, sambal
    Chef: Tin Vuong | Little Sister



    LAFW: Asian Night Market
    Mango Pudding
    Patina Group Catering



    LAFW: Asian Night Market
    Pork Belly – Octopus – Calamari – Big Eye Tuna – Fish Sauce – Puffed Rice
    Chef: Jeffrey Lunak | Blue C Sushi



    LAFW: Asian Night Market - Duck Slider
    McDuck Sandwich + Duck Chips
    Chef: Andre Bienvenue | Joe’s Stone Crab



    Shockingly enough, the pork belly taco from Jet Tila wound up being my favorite bite; surprising as I don’t particularly care for pork outside of the dried cured deli meat variety. I’m depressed that Pakao Thai is in Dallas! Booo-urns! A close second would be the sweet and spicy bites from Starry Kitchen. NGUYEN, YOU MADE ME BREAK MY VOW NEVER TO EAT SNAILS! *shakes fist at you* AND THEY WERE DELICIOUS, DAMN YOU! Ugh. Now I need to go and try that Singaporean Chili Crab.

    The duck sandwich was also amazing, though I was sure to give my best playful scowl to the chefs for the dig on my favorite Disney characters. I enjoyed the duck chips equally, if a little more than the sandwich itself. Ah, I wish Joe’s Stone Crab were in Los Angeles and not Miami! So much good food, and a tremendous amount to follow, so stay tuned!

  • Learn More: Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival | Asian Night Market

  • Pozole Rojo de Pollo – Del Real Blogger Recipe Challenge

    Chicken Pozole Rojo
    Blogger Recipe Challenge by Del Real Foods

    About a month ago I was approached by my contacts at Del Real Foods, asking if I would join in the Blogger Recipe Challenge. I haven’t blogged a recipe in quite some time, and though there was a bit of a time crunch with Steffie’s wedding on the horizon, I decided to participate. Incorporating a brand of market food in a recipe is not something I take lightly; I would never take such a risk on a brand I had not already tasted. Fortunately, I have tasted most of what Del Real has to offer and we wouldn’t be having this conversation if I thought their food wasn’t worth our time! Entrants have free range on picking any Del Real product, but there wasn’t much contest on what I would end up using:



    Chicken Pozole Rojo

    Low in sodium, flavorful, and juicy, this shredded chicken breast would serve as the protein for the recipe that instantly came to mind: red chili pozole. I don’t quite know what possessed me to tackle this Latin America favorite, other than my adoration for creating and consuming soups – which I suppose is good enough a reason. Anyway, if you think my Pozole de Pollo is majestic, and you appreciate that I endangered my life by dangling precariously from a very narrow step-stool to achieve quality photos, and you have a moment to vote for me, that would be radical: Vote for Me at the Del Real Blogger Recipe Challenge!


    Chicken Pozole Rojo

    Pozole Rojo del Pollo
    with Avocado Lime Crema

    Yields: 6 servings

    prep: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 1 hour

    Equipment: 1 large stock pot, 1 wide skillet, 1 medium sauce pot, 1 mesh sieve, blender OR food processor OR Vitamix

    Ingredients:

    8 cloves of medium large garlic, peeled
    6 dried guajillo chilies, stems, seeds and spines removed
    8 dried arbol chilies, stems, seeds and spines removed
    1 white onion, chopped

    1 25 oz can of hominy, drained
    3 cups chicken stock
    3 tablespoon garlic chili oil, divided 2:1
    1.5 tsp dried oregano
    2 teaspoon cumin
    1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
    3 whole cloves
    1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
    1 package Deal Real Foods Pechuga de Pollo Deshebrada (Shredded Chicken)

    optional: 1 cup frozen or fresh corn off the cob + 1 additional tablespoon of garlic chili oil

    garnish: cilantro, slivered raw radish, finely chopped red onion, avocado lime crema

    Recipe:

  • Fill the medium sauce pot with water and set on the range at medium-high heat.
  • As the water comes to a boil, heat chilies on the skillet until softened but not burnt.
  • Place softened chilies into the boiling water and bring down the temperature to a simmer.
  • After 5 minutes, remove the sauce pot from heat, cover and let the chilies soak for another 15 minutes.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of garlic chili oil in the skillet and add the drained hominy. Crisp up on medium-high heat for five minutes before adding hominy to the stock pot along with the shredded chicken and chicken stock.
  • Either using a hand blender, blender or food processor, puree half of the chopped onion with half of the peeled garlic. Add to the stock pot, combine well and add a pinch of salt.
  • Once the chilies are ready, add them in the blender/food processor with 1 cup of chili liquid, the 4 remaining cloves of garlic, cumin, oregano, coriander seed, cloves and the remaining onion. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, reserving the smooth puree.
  • Heat remaining garlic chili oil in the skillet before adding the chili puree. Allow sauce to thicken over medium-low heat for 5-7 minutes before adding it to the stock pot. Mix well and allow soup to simmer for fifteen minutes, adding extra seasonings according to your tastes.* Squeeze the juice of a lime for an added citrus flavor.

  • Optional: In the skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of garlic chili oil and add 1 cup of frozen or fresh corn (off the cob). Roast over medium-high heat until partially blackened before tossing in the soup.

    * = I personally ended up adding quite a bit more cumin, a tablespoon of ancho chili powder and a generous teaspoon of garlic powder. I’m kind of insane about layering spice, though.

    Avocado Lime Crema
    1 avocado
    1 tablespoon cilantro
    juice of ½ lime (use whole lime if you’re a big fan like me)

    Combine all ingredients and thoroughly incorporate, either by hand or with a hand blender for optimal results.

    Once the soup is ready, garnish with freshly chopped red onion, cilantro, radish, and avocado lime crema. Enjoy!

    Chicken Pozole Rojo
    Thank you for your votes!

    Food I Love Friday!

    FoodILoveFriday2

    Today is a day of both joy and sadness. Sadness, because I lost a camper. For the last eleven years, I’ve been volunteering with Camp del Corazon, a non-profit for kids living with cardiac issues, as I have and will for all of my life. As a counselor, and a grown-ass woman, I am technically supposed to be imperious to having “favorites”, but I am human and not a parent, so of course, I always had favorites. There was a group of roughly 7 teen girls I bonded with, and went out of my way for if they should need me – even if I wasn’t assigned to their cabin that year. One of my girls, long since graduated from camp now, has passed away. I’ve lost kids before: kids I loved dearly, kids I didn’t know well but still enjoyed seeing their faces, and kids I may have clashed with but respected nonetheless. But this is the first of my group of girls to die.

    This young woman enjoyed everything about the country; wide, open spaces, horses, archery, she was overall a very outdoorsy girl, and while I cannot recall her favorite foods to eat, I dedicate this Food I Love Friday to her and her love for the great outdoors.



    Whole Crispy Fried Fish - ZENGO - Santa Monica
    Trout

    While I love lobster, adore crab and could slurp down whole, raw oysters by the dozens, give me a simple trout and I am a happy girl. Fry it, grill it, bake it, poach it, smoke it, trout will always trump the salmon as “king” of fish in my heart (and stomach!).



    Roasting Marshmallows
    Roasting Marshmallows
    photo: Nina Hale

    Whether you go balls to the wall and S’more it up, roasting marshmallows is a time-honored camping tradition I try to get in at least twice a summer. There seems to be a fairly heated debate on how one ought to roast a marshmallow. I like an extremely crispy, burnt exterior with a gooey, 75% melted interior. On the other hand, my brother likes a slow, even toasted golden brown exterior with a softened but not wholly melted interior. What about you?



    Tommy's Double Cheeseburger
    Chili Cheeseburgers
    photo: Doran

    For the majority of my life, I avoided anything remotely associated with the hamburger. Then, circa 2010, I indulged in my first cheeseburger in roughly a decade. My life has vastly improved with the addition of the cheeseburger, and as of late the deep, unbridled craving for a solid chili cheeseburger has fiercely griped me. Though probably more appropriate for winter comfort food, I associate this sloppy character with a good old-fashioned outdoor barbecue. I don’t know why this craving has appeared, or when it will be satisfied, but I’m riding out this wave until it peters out.



    Oregon Berries
    Fresh Picked Berries
    photo: JPellgen

    Eating freshly picked, just-washed berries right out of their carton is one of life’s purest joys. Do not deny yourself this basic human right, friends.



    Takoyaki
    Takoyaki
    photo: hermitsmoores

    I know this is a curve ball, but bear with me. I’m using the takoyaki as a representative of the kind of food-on-a-stick prevalent during the summer street food/county fair/festival/carnival season. Takoyaki is one of my staples when I visit Little Tokyo, along with odango (rice dumplings on a stick) and imagawayaki (sweet red bean paste between two pancake-like patties). Your summer stick and finger food may be corn on the cob, tacos, a candied apple, kebabs, corndog, or a deep fried candy bar. Whatever the case, eat up and enjoy!

    Thank you, my former camper, for sitting with me by the crackling fire on the shores of Catalina Island and trusting me with your care, your troubles, your humor, your friendship, your heart. I will miss you dearly.

    A Day In Cork, Ireland

    The view from Electric, Cork
    Cork, Ireland


    I’m still under the weather and preparing for my busiest four-day food excursion of the year, but in the meantime, please hop over to my friend Evin’s website, 40 Shades of Life, for my guest post: A Day in Cork (Ireland). From 09:30am until 11:00pm, I have a full day in Ireland’s culinary capital all mapped out. Of course, I recommend several weeks there, but I realize this is not realistic for many tourists. From the best places to eat, to leisure activities, to shopping, to history and evening activities (for either those seeking culture or a couple of pints), these recommendations are all taken from my personal experiences, so don’t miss out!