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.

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!

Sunset Safari at the L.A. Zoo

Sunset Safari at the Los Angeles Zoo

Sunset Safari

Sunset Safari, an exclusive after-hours party hosted by the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) for SAFARI SOCIETY donors took place September 20th during after-hours at the L.A. Zoo. The evening featured wildlife of Africa, Asia and the Americas and spotlights the Zoo’s new Rainforest of the Americas, providing guests a chance to experience animals up close through keeper talks, animal feedings, training demonstrations, and strolling animal walkabouts. I took along my friend and life-time animal lover Annie, as an apology for not taking her to the Beastly Ball last year! Whoops. I think this event made up for it – especially since most of the animals were out in the cooling evening air, ready to play.

Sunset Safari at the Los Angeles Zoo
Black Bear

Sunset Safari at the Los Angeles Zoo
Hungry Hungry Hippos

Sunset Safari at the Los Angeles Zoo
Kids get acquainted with a ball python

Sunset Safari at the Los Angeles Zoo
Southern three-banded Armadillo

43rd Annual Beastly Ball L.A. Zoo GLAZA
Tigers going for a dip

Sunset Safari at the Los Angeles Zoo
Jaguar waiting for his snack

Sunset Safari at the Los Angeles Zoo
Blue & Gold Macaw

Sunset Safari at the Los Angeles Zoo

Sunset Safari at the Los Angeles Zoo
This Galapagos tortoise is totally mooning me

Sunset Safari at the Los Angeles Zoo
Howler Monkey Mama and her baby

By the time Annie and I were done going gaga for all of the animals it was time to tuck in at the buffet dinner. The highlight of which was undoubtedly the mashed potato bar:

Fancy Potato Bar Creation

Being the seven year old that I am at heart, I beat the rush to the face paint and was able to get this colorful piece of art:

Rainbow Leopard Print Face Paint
I think I pull off rainbow leopard print rather well.

And what Sunset Safari would be complete without a ride on the historical Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel, where I managed to nab the highly coveted unicorn:

Unicorn at the historic LA Zoo Carousel
I swear I did not push over a toddler to get to it.
You can’t prove a thing.

SAFARI SOCIETY is the pinnacle among donor and membership programs presented by the private, nonprofit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA), founded in 1963, which funds plant and animal exhibits, species conservation, capital projects, and education and community outreach programs at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. There are 65,000 member households in GLAZA representing more than 240,000 adults and children, one of the largest membership bases of a cultural organization in Los Angeles. GLAZA additionally boasts a volunteer corps of more than 800 individuals.

VLOG: Stonefire Naan Crisps Review

I’ve started up my YouTube Channel again. I’m unsure if I’m going to start another channel for my Geekery or what, because I loathe my YouTube channel name and I’m quite stuck with it. Ah, well. As it is, I decided to forgo Quickie Reviews because they were just too much to keep five minutes and under. I’m verbose, may as well own up to it. So this video is reviewing all four flavors of Stonefire Naan Crisps. Enjoy!

LACO á la Carte: Finland

LACO á la Carte

“LACO à la carte,” five intimate, elegant fundraising events presented by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, pair exclusive musical performances with delectable international cuisine in the spectacular private homes of the Consuls General of Australia, Austria, Finland, France and Germany. Providing a decidedly cosmopolitan flair to LACO’s wide ranging musical offerings, each unique evening features representative cuisine complemented by a salon performance spotlighting LACO musicians and guest artists. The LACO à la carte series, now in its sixth year, illustrates that music truly knows no boundaries. Proceeds help support the education outreach programs of LACO, proclaimed “America’s finest chamber orchestra” by Public Radio International.

Juha Markkanen, Consulat of Finland | soloist Juho Pohjonen | LACO Exe. Director Rachel Fine
photo by Jamie Pham

On Thursday, September 18th I was lucky enough to experience the refined cuisine and culture of one of the world’s northernmost countries at the first “LACO à la carte” of the season hosted by The Honorable Juha Markkanen, Consul General of Finland. Finnish pianist Juho Pohjonen offered an intimate recital of Grieg Ballade in the Form of Variations, Op. 24 and Sibelius Finlandia, Op. 26.

Executive Chef Sirpa Welch
photo by Jamie Pham

Finnish Executive Chef Sirpa Welch is looking forward to representing her country and its culture through cooking authentic Finnish cuisine and preparing specialty mixed drinks for the evening. Having gained an appreciation for traditional Finnish food from her mother and grandmother, Sirpa has been cooking her whole life and has been sharing her passion for food with guests at the Finnish Consulate for over 15 years.

Just look at this amazing feast on my plate:

Finnish Cuisine at LACO á la carte
Finnish Cuisine by Sirpa Welch

The salads were just salads, though my mother raved about the beet salad. I was all about the potatoes au gratin, the cabbage roll with lingonberry sauce (the only way to eat cabbage rolls, in my honest opinion) and the pilaf with its complex texture. Above all though was the gravlax, something I never thought I would admit to as I don’t usually like cooked salmon. I don’t know how Chef Sirpa prepared this salmon, but it was the best salmon I’d ever eaten and I’m still full of regret over not going back for seconds.

On with dessert:

Finnish Cuisine at LACO á la carte
Finnish dessert plate

My favorites from this selection were the cloudberry cream puffs and fresh berries. I haven’t had an overwhelming sweet tooth as of late, so these milder picks really hit the spot.

I attend these events not solely for the food, but to honor what I’ve loving dubbed “The Summer of Beethoven” – the summer of 1997 when my best friend KD had me listening to classical music during my visit. And Civil War songs, but that’s another story for another blog post. Kate’s love for anything is infectious, as typical between best friends, and while an all out love affair with the classics never happened, I do have an appreciation and respect for them. The music at any LACO event is always impeccable, and the a la carte series never fails to enchant me, due to the intimacy of each event. I feel like I’ve been magically transported to another time and place, when salon performances of the latest and greatest musicians were all the rage.

Finnish Cuisine at LACO á la carte
Cheers, LACO! To another year of beautiful music and delicious food!