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.

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
Caiman

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
YUM!

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!

Recipe: Rosemary Lamb Milanese


Homecooking: Lamb Milanese


I’m trying to take the initiative with Halloween and solidify my plans and costume. I’ve got two pieces I need to buy and then the rest I can piece together out of my own wardrobe. Do you have plans already? I know, it’s a month and some change away, but I like plans. I was supposed to go to Texas and meet some friends to go camp out at the Texas Renaissance Faire, but due to medical mishaps beyond my control and weakening finances, I think I’m going to opt for a quiet evening of passing out candy to trick-or-treaters. It’s the most grown-up activity I’ll have ever engaged in on Halloween, but I’m actually kind of looking forward to it. Except for that occasional obnoxious kid that will invariably walk up my friends porch. That is what a special witches’s brew in my hand will be there for, though.

The weather is cooling down, despite what my weather app is telling me. There was a lovely breeze at the L.A. Zoo on Saturday evening when my friend Annie and I went to the Sunset Safari. There were animals, feedings, a buffet dinner, carousel rides and best of all, face painting:


But that’s another post for another time.

A few months ago I was lucky enough to have been invited to taste selections from the summer menu of Fig & Olive in West Hollywood. For my entree, I picked the rosemary lamb Milanese, and from the first bite I was smitten. By the second bite, I was in love. By the third, I knew I could not live without it in my life. I mean, see for yourself:


Delicious, right?

Now, I don’t precisely have a butcher or even know what sort of cut to look out for when it comes to lamb steaks, so I just grabbed my favorite cuts from Trader Joe’s and went to town pounding them as flat as I could without the neighbors calling the cops for all of the noises of blunt-force trauma. That is pretty much the most labor you’re going to have to put in for this recipe. As fancy as it looks, sounds and tastes, this is not only one of the quickest meals I’ve ever prepared but the easiest.


Rosemary Lamb Milanese

Ingredients
2 lamb steaks, fat trimmed & bone-off
1 cup Panko
3/4th cup flour
1 large egg
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, washed with leaves removed and coarsely chopped
hefty pinch of smoked paprika
small pinch of dried thyme
pinch of salt
grapeseed oil – enough to fry in your skillet

Step One: Take care of that lamb. Wrap your fat-trimmed boneless steaks in plastic wrap before settling it on a cutting board or other tough-to-crack surface and start beating the absolute crap out of it until it thins out. There is just no other way of putting it, folks.

Step Two: Get a deep skillet and cover the bottom with grapeseed oil – let it heat up as you complete step three.

Step Three: As the oil heats up, beat the egg(s) in a wide-mouthed bowl; add the flour to a pie pan; add the Panko, coarsely chopped rosemary, paprika, thyme and salt to another separate pie pan or deep plate.

Step Four: Dredge a lamb steak in the flour, then through the beaten egg before another dredge through the seasoned Panko. Once it’s crusted, gently lay the lamb steak in the oil and fry away. The thinner the steak, the less time it will take to cook. Anywhere from 3-6 minutes for each side ought to suffice. Remove and let it sit on a paper towel to drain the excess oil.

Step Five: Oh. Wait. That’s it!

I paired these steaks with a quick saute of mushrooms. A swirl of sherry, a dollop of butter, some minced garlic and parsley bring out the best of these fungi. Topped with fresh parsley and it’s the perfect side.


Homecooking: Rosemary Lamb Milanese

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!