A Taste Of: Retro Row Long Beach

While I am away on my medical leave, I have a couple of guest posts lined up with my ow scheduled posts. Thank you, Melanie! – Rachael

Melanie is the author of the blog LA Explorer, where she shares her favorite discoveries from her adventures around Southern California. She can also be found on facebook, twitter, instagram, and google+.

Long Beach has long been one of my favorite cities in Southern California. It’s large and diverse and offers a variety of treasures just waiting to be found. One of my favorite spots is 4th Street and Cherry, an area that is commonly called Retro Row.

As the name suggests, the area is home to a variety of vintage vendors. There’s a the requisite clothing shops



and also a few home stores.


If your tastes or more retro than truly vintage there’s a fun selection of businesses offering brand new merchandise and services.



Of course, all that shopping often makes one hungry. Luckily Retro Row is home to a few great dining options. My favorite is Lola’s which offers an updated take on Mexican cuisine.

And you can’t miss grabbing a coffee or tea from The Flea, a quaint circus inspired coffee bar.


Personally, I recommend the Lavender Steamer.

But my absolute spot on 4th Street is The Art Theatre.

This art deco gem has been around since the 1920′s and shows a variety of independent films. It’s the perfect place to catch a flick.

Next time you’re in the Long Beach area be sure to check out Retro Row and discover all the treasures it has to offer.

Here I Go! International Food Bloggers Conference

Seattle Skyline
Sunny Seattle Skyline

Tomorrow I leave for Seattle to visit my high school friend Liz, her husband and to attend the International Food Bloggers Conference located at the W Hotel in downtown.

Organized by Foodista.com and Zephyr Adventures, IFBC was the first-ever conference for food bloggers, first held in May of 2009. The series focuses on three themes: Food, Writing, and Technology. This event will feature high-quality educational sessions, personal networking opportunities, and what 95% of attendees say is the best food and wine of any blogging conference! Join us for our FIFTH annual conference in beautiful Seattle, Washington!

International Food Blogger Conference 2013 Seattle

There is going to be a lot of delicious eats to be eaten both at the conference and with my friends – the perfect send off before I have to hibernate after my surgery come October – plus knowledgeable speakers and guests at the conference itself to advise tips and tricks on the ins and outs of food blogging. The panels, demos and activities I am most looking forward to are:

  • Tech: The Elements in Building Traffic – Lord knows I feel like I am speaking to myself here on my lonely little island off the cost of The Rest of the Internet. Hoping I can learn a thing or five about building up quality numbers from Allrecipes.com’s Judith Dern and Richard Kozel and Foodista.com founders Barnaby Dorfman and Sheri Wetherell.
  • A Taste of Seattle and Gourmet Fair ~ Food, food, glorious food. Enough said.
  • Food Photography & Cooking Demo – Renowned The New York Times food photographer Andrew Scrivani will open this Food Series with the A-Zs of Digital Food Photography with live cooking demonstration from Chef John Mitzewich.
  • Discovery Expo – Sample delicious food/drink and discovering interesting products and services.
  • Taste of Alaska Seafood Reception – Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute will share some creative and delicious tastes of the best seafood Alaska has to offer. JESUS CHRSIT gimme all the seafood!
  • Urbanspoon Dine-Around Dinner – Urbanspoon is hosting more than a dozen intimate dinner parties around the city and the clever buggers are keeping the locations a secret!
  • Wake up With Pike Place Market – If I can actually wake my butt up, I’ll be going on this fun self-guided tour of the historical Pike Place Market!
  • Writing: Snap Out of It! Author/journalist Kim O’Donnel will lead this interactive timed-writing workshop on how to wake ourselves up from a writing coma, aka writer’s block, and breaking out of old patterns.

  • Now, I had a ticket to the Thursday excursion out to Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville for a special wine and food pairing event, but since my doctor looked me directly in the eyes as he said in his signature No Nonsense Dad voice: “You can’t drink.”
    WHAT! Dude. You killed my buzz – before it even happened! However, I’m not one to break the rules on my health, especially since I’ll be out of town and away from the comforts of TEAM RACHAEL!, so I did the right thing and sold my ticket. Sigh. Oh, well. Plenty of virgin drinks to whet my palate.

    While I will be relying on my friend Liz, Cathy’s Seattle posts, and Anthony Bourdain’s Layover list, I welcome other Seattlites and visitors to leave a comment to recommend somewhere to eat – especially in Ballard!


    Seattle has excellent public transit, but why wait for the bus when you can grab a Lyft? Readers of Glass of Win get to enjoy a $20 credit when you sign-up for Lyft On-Demand Rideshare.
    Just download the free app, follow instructions for registering and enter the code: LABlogger. Credit is only good for new users.

    See you soon, Seattle!

    Paletas by La Newyorkina

    Paletas - Latin Ice Pops - High Line New York

    Paletas by La Mewyorkina

    While visiting The High Line in New York City last October, there were many tempting snacks to pick from. A surprising day of warmer weather than I’d anticipated, my friend Jen and I settled on paletas – Latin America’s answer to the ice pop or Popsicle. Since 2010, Fany Gerson has been whipping up Mexican ice pops and sweets for lucky folks in and around New York. She began at the Hester Street Fair and has expanded to several push-carts, bringing a taste of Mexico to the Northeast.

    Paletas - Latin Ice Pops - High Line New York

    Paletas by La Newyorkina

    Jen went for the mango paletas (pictured above) while I went for the pina colada. Both were incredibly refreshing and bursting with flavor. Other paletas flavors I’d like to taste would be: mango with chile, horchata, pineapple jalapeño, and corn. Perhaps I can do a little digging and find some paletas in Los Angeles, or better yet, make my own!

    Paletas - Latin Ice Pops - High Line New York
    Paletas by Fany Gerson

    More than ice cream, ice pops resonate deeper within my rose-tinted memories of childhood summers. When I was very young, my mother would make my brother and I simple homemade ice pops with a dime store mold and fresh squeezed orange juice. I couldn’t even tell you when Otter Pops came on my radar, as I was spoiled with this simply luxury. This summer has been all about ice pops for me, and I’ve been experimenting with new flavors.

    Strawberry Nutella Ice Pop
    Strawberry Nutella Ice Pop

    Straying away from the standard juice combinations, I’ve decided to go decadent with an attempt at the basic fudgsicle. Using my immersion blender, I pureed a handful of fresh washed and cut strawberries, a generous dollop of Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread) and the smallest dash of coconut milk.

    Addendum: Little did anyone suspect that Hurricane Sandy would soon swoop down on New York and take out the kitchen of La Newyorkina, based in Red Hook. The storm destroyed Fany’s Paletera (the integral machine that ensures the paletas freeze evenly), but thanks to friends, family and most of all, fans, Fany was able to successfully raise funds through Kickstarter and be up and running in time for this summer!


  • Have you eaten paletas? Do you make your own ice pops? Favorite flavors?

    Vegetarian Dim Sum House – Chinatown, New York

    Vegetarian Dim Sum House - Chinatown New York

    Vegetarian Dim Sum House

    Chinatown, New York City, New York

    This night began earlier when my hostess, bartender extraordinaire Miss Chockie, took me to La Maison Cointreau for an evening of booze-soaked education and history of Cointreau. A handful of drinks with just enough small bites to keep me upright later and it was time for real sustenance. My hostess and I grabbed a cab from Greenwich Village to Chinatown where we met up with Jake, Miss Chockie’s vegan fiance. Admittedly, when I’d been told we were heading to a vegetarian dim sum restaurant I was worried. Not just the usual omnivore-who-is-desperately-in-need-of-meat kind of concern, but the legit concern of someone who is soy sensitive due to a wonky thyroid.

    Chockie reassured me….well, at least I think she did. To be honest, this night is kind of hazy in my memory and my phone with all of my notes died approximately five days later. In my hand. While I was on a hunt for bagels and Indian food. I found both, thank goodness, but getting to Philadelphia the next day proved to be a feat I’d not prepared for since before the dark ages of not owning a cell phone. Dark days, my friends, dark days.

    Continue reading

    La Maison Cointreau New York

    LA MAISON COINTREAU - 632 Hudson - New York

    La Maison Cointreau

    Greenwich Village New York

    Back in October I traveled to New York City for the first time as an adult. Staying with a friend I’d met way back in my college years meant I had the luxury of having a local to guide me around for my first couple of days. NYC is overwhelming to me, because my brain is used to the vastness of Los Angeles, which I acknowledge is difficult for many to figure out. Miss Chockie, my divine hostess, is a bartender extraordinaire and knows how to work her magic with any alcohol. She was invited to La Maison Cointreau, a special industry event presented by Cointreau. With a cool, “She’s with me,” as only Chockie can pull off, I was able to slide in to this glamorous, booze filled evening.

    LA MAISON COINTREAU - 632 Hudson - New York
    Welcome to the land of booze

    Though the majority of my images had to be chucked due to insufficient lighting, the memory of the night will burn brightly for years. Located at 632 on Hudson in the iconic Greenwich Village, the 5,000-square-foot nineteenth-century townhouse boasts three floors for exploration. On the journey, Alfred Cointreau, sixth generation family member, highlighted Cointreau’s rich history, its beginnings in Angers, France, in 1849, its inclusion in some of the very first cocktail recipes ever created, and its legacy today. Mr. Cointreau brought along some rare first-edition and historic cocktail books dating from the mid-1800s.

    LA MAISON COINTREAU - 632 Hudson - New York
    My Strawberry Mint Basil Cocktail!

    At the Cocktail Lab, tables chock filled with vegetables, herbs, and fruit and sideboards lined with all the top-shelf booze and mixers any rookie or veteran bartender mixologist could ask for. Additionally, we were given drink tickets for the in-house bartenders to take in exchange for some classic Cointreau drinks. I had my first Cointreau sidecar; it tasted like falling in love.

    LA MAISON COINTREAU - 632 Hudson - New York
    Cointreau Macarons: Orange & Chocolate

    I think, all in all, I drank about four cocktails. Food, you ask? Well. There were little itty, bitty finger bites, just enough to put into our stomachs to balance out and keep from falling to our deaths on one of the many flights of stairs we climbed. These macarons were infused with Cointreau and hit that lovely spot between richly chocolate and bright bite of orange.

    LA MAISON COINTREAU - 632 Hudson - New York
    Nicole Renaud on Lincordian

    At the evening’s end, we were taken to a lower-level boudoir and ballroom echoing with Parisian chansons. Entertainment was provided by Nicole Renaud, a French songstress and accordion player who performs on am illuminated lincordian designed by Paul Etienne. Her performance was ethereal and haunting, but very beautiful.

    LA MAISON COINTREAU - 632 Hudson - New York
    Obligatory Light Fixture Photo

    I don’t know how Miss Chockie was doing by the time we stumbled outside into the crisp night air, but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I was inebriated and in much need of sustenance. As we were meeting up with her fiance, the staunchly vegan Mr. Jake, we would be heading someplace where Jake had more than two options that would still satisfy two hearty meat eaters in dire need of booze-soaking comfort food.

    Which is how we ended up at Vegetarian Dim Sum House in Chinatown. Stay tuned for Wednesday’s post for the review!


  • 632 ON HUDSON

  • LA MAISON COINTREAU - 632 Hudson - New York
    Do you like Cointreau? What cocktails do you like to mix up?

    The Failte Hotel Bar (Killarney)

    The Failte Hotel

    Steffie and I were all set to go on a Ring of Kerry tour, which we booked through Bus Éireann at Parnell Station. However, on the Sunday we were to go – two days before our departure from Ireland – we learned that our tour had been cancelled due to not meeting the minimum requirement of attendees. Faced with the prospect of wasting one of our precious few last days, we decided to be adventurous and do as the clerk suggested: transfer the fare we paid to a new ticket and go explore downtown Killarney on our own. The Killarney National Park was not but one kilometer from the drop-off area, so we had the entire day to explore its expansive grounds. As I’ve learned now, this stop is often skipped or grossly squished into an official Ring of Kerry Tour, so in hindsight, I am extraordinarily pleased it turned out this way.

    One day (when I’ve returned to Killarney National Park to take proper pictures) I’ll post about the Park itself, but here are some highlights in the meantime:



    Clouds over Killarney


    Ross Tower Castle
    Ross Tower Castle

    Ah, yes. Ross Castle. It was exceedingly windy when Steffie and I walked through the Park and made it to this late 15th century landmark. We didn’t take an official tour, but we enjoyed playing around outside and seeing the historical documents and models of what Ross Tower was like back in its heyday. We were in mutual agreement over our love for the ever so fashionable murdering hole.

    After our day at the Park, Steffie and I walked back through town, where time straddled that awkward limbo between lunch and dinner. Our last bus did not depart until around 7′clock, so after killing some time in gift shops and browsing the menus posted outside the hotels, pubs, bars and restaurants that weren’t closed due to it being a Sunday, we finally settled on The Failte Hotel Bar.

    Owned and operated by the O’Callaghan family, The Fáilte Hotel is a bar, restaurant and hotel all in one. Their popularity was evident as soon as Steffie and I stepped inside; boisterous cheering and jeering from regulars and tourists alike filled the bar as The World Cup played on a couple of television screens.

    Interior: Failte Hotel

    After a long day of walking and nature, Steffie and I indulged in some libation – Bulmers for her, Jameson & Ginger for myself.

    Finches Dry Ginger Ale
    Finches Dry Ginger Ale

    Finches ain’t playing around; when they say dry, they mean it. This isn’t your sugary Canada Dry stuff. Impeccibly crisp, this mixer makes for

    Heaven on the half shell
    Oysters on the Half Shell

    Oyster obsessed that I am, I could not resist another chance at devouring Irish oysters. As you can see, though, these poor little mollusks were horribly butchered and mangled by someone at Failte Hotel Bar who does not know how to properly shuck an oyster. Mercifully, I put them out of their humiliation and devoured them quickly.

    Fish 'n' Chips
    Fish and Chips
    mushy peas

    Steffie’s last fish and chip meal of our visit. Just look at that behemoth of golden crispy deliciousness. Really gorgeous piece of fish; flakey, moist and flavorful with only a squeeze of lemon needed for that extra boost of flavor. The chips (not pictures) were equally praiseworthy, and Steffie preferred these simplified peas to the minted peas she came across at other eateries.

    Guinness Casserole
    Guinness Casserole
    beef, onions, carrots & side of potatoes

    I don’t know about you, but that does not look the least bit like a casserole to me. Fáilte, I do not think that word means what you think it means. I was imagining, well, something not quite so reminiscent of stew. Oh, well. I played along and ate it up anyway, seeing as it was a blustery, manic weather sort of day, the likes of which I’ve only ever experienced in Ireland. The beef was tender, not dry or chewy in the least. I thought some fresh mushrooms would have been a nice addition, but again, still good. I’m unsure if this was the same portion they gave to everyone, or if by virtue of hearing my American voice, they assumed I would expect a comically large portion. Either way, despite my enjoyment of this dish, I was definitely unable to finish.

    Sticky Toffee Pudding
    Sticky Toffee Pudding
    sherry treacle

    Our first encounter with Sticky Toffee Pudding brought our meal to a richly decadent and thoroughly satisfied finish. Neither of us cared for the sauce on the side, going for the sherry treacle, which added an appreciative zing to the otherwise dense but oh so delicious pudding.

    As this meal was three years ago, I am sure many menu changes have happened at Failte Hotel Bar. Neither the pudding nor the casserole appear on the online restaurant or bar menus. Still, it was a hearty end to another jammed-packed day in Ireland, fill us up with good eats and good memories.

    The Fáilte Hotel Bar & Restaurant
    College Street, Killarney
    Co. Kerry, Ireland
    Telephone: 064 6633404

    Glimmering Waters
    On the road back from Killarney

    A Taste Of: Old Town Orange

    This guest post has been graciously provided by Melanie Kaminski. Melanie is the author of the blog LA Explorer, where she shares her favorite discoveries from her adventures around Southern California.

    Old Town Orange is located in the heart of Orange County and has long been a filming location for several Hollywood films. No wonder because it is quaintness personified. 

    When I was growing up, the Orange Circle (as locals call it) was home to countless antique shops and a few tea houses. In recent years it has become a hotspot for restaurants like Haven Gastropub (the original)

    and Linx.

    But local fixture Watson’s Drugs and Soda Fountain (going strong for over a century) endures.

    Antique stores do remain but they are now joined by boutique shops like Elsewhere Vintage

    and Eikon Home

    Though the business district is always evolving the buildings remain the same.

    And glimpses of the past can be found everywhere:

    Thank you for guest posting, Melanie!