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.

Beauty and the Beast – Inland Pacific Ballet

Beauty and the Beast

Happy very belated Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there. What did you do with your family? Usually I come up with a day of activities based around my mother’s whims and give my brother several reminders until the day of. This year we did things a little differently, as I was offered the chance to take my mother to the Inland Pacific Ballet production of Beauty and the Beast.

I love ballet, but I have yet to expand my ballet viewing beyond The Nutcracker. No disrespect to the Christmas classic, but I am ready to expand my horizons – and bonus points for not having to drive further than Arcadia to attend this performance. Good thing, too, since Mother’s Day turned into a comedy of errors for the family as my sister-in-law and my mother’s car both decided to call it quits and required visits from our local friendly AAA representative. Least to say, we opened a rather large bottle of wine that evening. But first, the ballet…



(credit: E.Y. Yanagi)

The story borrows more elements from the original Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont fairy tale with only a few motifs from the Disney adaptation, chiefly Belle’s iconic blue and white dress and the wolves going after Belle – or rather, Beauty as she is called here. The ballet is broken into two Acts, three scenes in the first, four in the second.



Wolves in The Enchanted Forest (credit: E.Y. Yanagi)

The backdrops and scenery orchestrated by scenic designer Daniel Nyiri set the tone beautifully and presented the audience with just enough whimsy to transport us to the fairy tale setting of Beauty and the Beast. Snaps for stand out performances go to:

  • Meilu Zhai (Beauty) for her seemingly effortless grace and swan-like elegance. Her expressiveness was as en point as her flawlessly ethereal dance.
  • Cameron Schwanz (Beast) for successfully emoting the dramatic angst of the character while burdened with the cumbersome head of Beast.
  • Jonathan Sharp (Father) Sharp for commanding a bold presence despite his secondary role. I particularly enjoyed his fluidly graceful demonstration of the silent body language of ballet prior to the show’s beginning.
  • Beauty’s Sisters: Unfortunately, I am unsure who performed them as there were some cast changes that did not get corrected in the hand-out. It doesn’t matter because both of them were splendid, especially the taller of the two who walked (danced?) the fine line between comedic greed and insecurity without tipping the scale into slapstick.
  • Fairies were lovely and their movements gorgeously executed to convey the otherworldliness of their roles. They were my favorite part of the first act.


  • The Beast is really an Enchanted Prince (credit: E.Y. Yanagi)


    Despite all of the headaches with the cars, mom had a fabulous time. Really, that’s all that matters in the end! Beauty and the Beast has two performances left this weekend on May 16th at the newly renovated Fox Performing Arts Theatre in Riverside. BUY YOUR TICKETS TODAY!



    Photo credit: Copyright © 2014 E.Y. Yanagi. Used with permission.

    Reviewing Otafuku Okonomiyaki Kit


    Cooking Okonomiyaki with Otafuku Okonomiyaki Kit

    Otafuku Okonomiyaki Kit

    A few weeks ago I went bananas at my local Marukai and purchased this Okonomiyaki Kit by Otafuku. I’ve had Okonomiyaki once, maybe twice, but always felt it’s something I can easily make at home. The completely from scratch recipes are well over an hour in cooking time, and for a Spoonie like me, that is sometimes not an option…especially when I have a friend over and we just want to cook something super quick and weeb out with some damn anime. Which is what my friend and I did when I used this kit. We’re watching Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun and it’s hilarious. If you like self-aware slice of life, go for it.


    High school student Chiyo Sakura has a crush on schoolmate Umetarō Nozaki, but when she confesses her love to him, he mistakes her for a fan and gives her an autograph. When she says that she always wants to be with him, he invites her to his house and has her help on some drawings. Chiyo discovers that Nozaki is actually a renowned shōjo manga artist named Sakiko Yumeno. She then agrees to be his assistant in order to get closer to him. As they work on his manga Let’s Fall in Love (恋しよっ) they encounter other schoolmates who assist them or serve as inspirations for characters in the stories. – Wikipedia

    I decided to film the process of making the Okonomiyaki,and you can watch that video:


    I could have left it just as a video, but I wanted to provide photos of some of the steps, and include a recipe for homemade Okonomiyaki sauce. Japanese food companies use a LOT of high fructose corn syrup and I could not find a single commercially available Okonomiyaki sauce that did not include HFC. So, I chose to make it myself.

    So, here are (most!) of the step by step instructions.

    Step One: Prep the ingredients

    Cooking Okonomiyaki with Otafuku Okonomiyaki Kit
    1/2 head cabbage + 4 smallish scallions

    Cooking Okonomiyaki with Otafuku Okonomiyaki Kit
    Thinly sliced meat.


    Note: I used shabu shabu pork and did not have to prep beyond opening the package and having it at the ready.

    Step Two: Mix Your Ingredients


    Cooking Okonomiyaki with Otafuku Okonomiyaki Kit

    In order: yam powder + 5.4 fl oz water (mix); Okonomiyaki batter (mix to combine); cabbage, green onion, tempura flakes, 2 eggs (fold in these items gently; do not over mix!)

    Step Three: Grease & Griddle it up


    Cooking Okonomiyaki with Otafuku Okonomiyaki Kit

    I used a large nonstick pan, but if you’re going to use a griddle or skillet, be sure to grease it well before spooning the first pancake. You’ll want to try to divide the batter up evenly and ladle it onto the hot pan, taking care to keep it in a circular shape and no more than an inch in thickness.

    Step Four: Cook for 3-5 minutes, then lay on the MEAT!


    Cooking Okonomiyaki with Otafuku Okonomiyaki Kit
    I used 4 slices per okonomiyaki

    Step Five: After meat is secure, FLIP!


    Cooking Okonomiyaki with Otafuku Okonomiyaki Kit
    Flip #1

    Step Six: Cover & Cook the meat 3-5 minutes, then FLIP! Uncover & cook for 1-2 min


    Cooking Okonomiyaki with Otafuku Okonomiyaki Kit
    Make sure your pork is cooked through!

    Step Seven: Remove from heat, transfer to a plate, garnish as you please & enjoy!


    Cooking Okonomiyaki with Otafuku Okonomiyaki Kit
    いただきます~!

    The whole process takes less than a half hour, and I not only recommend the Otafuku Okonomiyaki Kit, I plan to purchase more in the very near future to have on hand when I find myself at home with a plus one – or just exceptionally hungry for modern Japanese comfort food.

  • Quick ‘n’ Easy Okonomi Sauce Recipe:
  • Mix 3 tbs of ketchup + 1 tbs of Worcestershire sauce + 1 tsp of Soy Sauce.

    There are a variety of other Okonomiyaki sauce recipes floating around there on the internet, and I will be experimenting with them as well as food to toss in and garnish Okonomiyaki with.


    Have you eaten or cooked okonomiyaki? What variation did you eat?

    Confessions of a Serial Entertainer by Steven Stolman


    I have slight addiction to cookbooks, so it is terribly difficult for me to say pass when a publishing house wishes to send me a review copy. I try to be conservative; I say no outright to any cookbooks that cater to speciality diets (gluten-whaaaaat?) or whose primary patron are mothers. I’d rather review kids cookbooks outright rather than a cookbook for “mommy’s.” When Confessions of a Serial Entertainer by Steven Stolman was pitched to me, however, I welcomed the newest addition to my ever-growing collection with open arms.

    “If you saw me in the kitchen, you’d be horrified,” Steven Stolman, author of Confessions of a Serial Entertainer, admitted about his cooking prep skills.

    Speaking a someone who has been cooking and hosting her own parties since the age of twenty, I can more than empathize. When I first began a public food blog, people asked if my end goal is a career in the culinary arts. “Hell no,” I’d answer vehemently. Have you seen me in the kitchen? I’m a cyclone of every professional chef’s nightmare. Nobody wants to see my culinary chaos; there is a magic to the mystery curtain I hide behind, and I suspect Mr. Stolman and I might be cut from the same cloth in this respect.

    Formerly known as the “Prince of Preppy” for his lighthearted use of decorative fabrics in his previous incarnation as a fashion designer, Steven Stolman also served as the president of Scalamandre, the legendary fabric house before announcing his departure in May of last year. Confessions of a Serial Entertainer spans everything a host needs to entertain with style including: dips and cheese spreads for crackers, delicious entrees, breakfast casseroles, and scrumptious desserts.

    Mr. Stolman was kind of enough to answer a few questions I sent him on entertaining:

    The best cat in the world and his mummy

    Me: Potlucks: Love ‘em or hate ‘em? What is your go-to dish to bring, and do you have any host or guest tips?

    Steven: I’m not a big fan of potlucks. Every cook has a different hand when it comes to seasoning, and I think you end up with a very dissonant meal.
    What to bring? No one has ever balked at a small tin of caviar and a some simple toast points, that way, there’s never the issue of bringing home an icky dirty dish or never getting it back.

    Me: When did you first begin to host your own cocktail/dinner parties? Are they very different now from then in terms of food/drinks prepared, or essentially the same?

    Steven: I was a very precocious child. I used to play host at my parents’ parties, so probably around eight or nine. No, they are exactly the same. LOL

    Me: Any potentially kitchen catastrophe’s that you rescued at the eleventh hour? I’m always looking for new ways to put out (figurative and literal) fires.

    Steven: I have no patience in the kitchen. So I do have a tendency to screw things up by being careless and imprecise. The worst thing is a curdled bearnaise sauce – just looking at it all oily and gross makes me nauseous. But it can always be brought back to emulsion with an added egg yolk or two. I should probably always keep an extra dozen on hand.

    Me: If you could suddenly master any one dish – just poof! you know how to make it without ever having attempted to tackle it before – which dish would you suddenly have in your repertoire?

    Steven: I’m really a fearless cook, so there really isn’t anything that I don’t think I could do pretty okay the first time. I mean, I’ve made my own pate de campagne, for godsakes. My mother insists that under no circumstances should I ever tackle homemade gefilte fish, but it remains on my bucket list.

    Me: Living or deceased, pick four famous/known people to play host to at a marvelously intimate dinner or cocktail party (husband Rich is, of course, there already). What would you serve your distinguished guests?

    Steven: I’m obsessed with all of the swells who were a part of the fabulous, oh, so social court created by Babe and Bill Paley in response to being excluded from the WASP world. So I suppose I’d love to host Babe and Bill, Slim Keith, and Truman Capote. I would serve chicken hash, tomato pudding and beautiful bright green peas with pearl onions, on my mother’s Rosenthal “Dignity” china… the classic stuff with the wide cobalt blue rim and gold wheat in the center. And lots of ice cold Pouilly-Fuisse.

    Thank you, Steven!

    Now, onto the main course:


    Recipes from Confessions of a Serial Entertainer

    Recipe: Basic French Salad

    Ease: Stupid easy. You could train a monkey to prepare this salad.

    Tasting: I love butter lettuce, and Steven’s quick ‘n’ easy dressing makes that butter lettuce the belle of the ball. My taste-testers also agree on this and the Cesar Salad dressing (not pictured); which is so good that my friend Annie absconded it!


    Recipes from Confessions of a Serial Entertainer

    Recipe: Scalloped Scallops

    Ease: Deceptively easy. People will look and eat this dish thinking it’s advanced when it really took you all of 10 minutes of hands-on cooking time.

    Tasting: To be honest, I almost do not want to tell you just how delicious this recipe is, because I will invariably confess that I ate the entire dish by myself.

    RECIPES I HAVE MY EYE ON:

    Noodle Pudding Seafood Newburg
    Dr. Nagy’s Pate BLT Dip
    Kinda Cassoulet Nana’s Matzo Balls
    Creamed Spinach Hurry-Up Coq au Vin

    BOOK HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Steven is the prime highlight of this book. I have never met Mr. Stolman personally, but his narrative makes me feel like I am reading the journal of a new friend. There is a reason why I was able to read 80% of this cookbook in one sitting: Steven’s personality.
  • Accessibility. Steven is not shy to state this is no bouji escapade in the land of the 1%; while some recipes are inherently pricey (prime rib), you’re going to find most include ingredients that are not only common staples, but do not break the bank in case they are not in your pantry.
  • Americana Throwback. If you were raised in the 1960s/1970s or were raised by people from this era, as I was, many of these recipes will have a generous pinch of nostalgia thrown in for good measure.
  • Confessions of a Serial Entertainer harkens back to a golden age of entertaining in America, particularly when the middle class suburbia took cocktail and dinner parties into their own hands. Were my grandmother still alive, she would not only adore this cookbook, she would proudly tackle a handful of Mr. Stolman’s recipes for the gourmet cooking club she co-founded back in the late 1950s. It had always been a dream of hers to see me take up the ladle and skillet, so to speak. I’d like to think Grandma and I would have bonded tremendously over Confessions of a Serial Entertainer, and we would have tackled many of Stolman’s recipes, one fabulous dinner party at a time.

    PURCHASE: Amazon | Book Depository

    FOLLOW STEVEN STOLMAN ON TWITTER

    Confessions of a Serial Entertainer Header



    Bombo by Mark Peel – Grand Central Market

    Bombo Foods - Chef Mark Peel 2
    Chef Mark Peel

    It’s funny how cyclic the world is, you know? In what seems like the blink of eye, a place goes from “hot” to “not” to “hot” again. Case in point: Grand Central Market in downtown L.A. When I was a kid/teen, GCM was the last place anyone would recommend to eat in downtown Los Angeles. It was still listed as a place to take your visiting cousin, because, y’know, history, but chances were high you’d take them to Philippe’s for lunch. If at all in DTLA. For reference, this is also the same period of time when walking along the east side of Alameda Street in Little Tokyo was not even an option unless you were looking to score some sweet, sweet crank.


    Bombo steam kettles
    Steam Kettle Cooking at Bombo

    I don’t know when it happened, precisely, but Grand Central Market slowly but surely received a much needed injection of vitality and innovation in the form of chefs taking an interest in L.A. History and wanting to simplify the dining experience by trading in the fine linen for counter service. Wexler’s Deli, Berlin Currywurst, Belcampo Meat Co., Horse Thief, Oyster Gourmet, and of course, Eggslut are the heavy-hitters now, packing in crowds so wrought with hunger and zeal, it’s commonplace for food to sell out. Joining their ranks is Bombo, brought to us Chef Mark Peel, regarded as one of the founders of California cuisine. Serving up broth-based seafood dishes and salads, with the majority of the cooking done in steel-jacketed steam kettles, I was fortunate enough to score a preview before Bombo opened and sample selections from their enticing menu.

    Please enjoy – and try not to droll on your keyboard.


    Bombo


    My favorite dish of the evening was the steamed clams with pork sausage, accompanied by roasted onion, chickpeas in lobster broth atop a bed of pappardelle. Dishes I have to go back for: steamed mussels, Seattle Fish Stew and the chicken salad!


    SteamedMussles
    Chef Mark Peel


    Have you tasted Bombo yet, or visited Grand Central Market as of late?

    BOMBO
    317 S. Broadway
    Los Angeles, CA 90013
    11a-3p
    http://bombofoods.com

    Osawa Celebrates Two Years in Pasadena

    It’s always a happy day when a restaurant marks another successful year on the calendar, as is the case with Osawa Shabu Shabu & Sushi, which celebrated its second anniversary in Old Town Pasadena last week. I have blogged about Osawa before, so you can check out their day-to-day menu from that post. However, this was a party, so I showed up in video mode and filmed a quick one-minute Tastemade vlog. Check out the highlights from the anniversary celebration:


    Osawa


    Owner Sayuri Tachibe employs Omotenashi, the Japanese art of hospitality, where customers are honored guests and eating at Osawa Shabu Shabu + Sushi becomes more than just a meal, but an an elevated experience in traditional Japanese dining. おめでとうございます~! (Congratulations!)

    Osawa Shabu Shabu + Sushi
    77 North Raymond Avenue
    Pasadena, California 91103
    Phone: 626.683.1150
    http://www.theosawa.com

    Geek Chic: Marvel Her Universe, Sailor Moon Shoes and Wedding Tiara





    It’s been a long time since I have blogged about fashion, but I missed it terribly and decided to incorporate it into my regular Moonstruck Quest regime. As “regular” as I get around here, anyway.

    First up making waves across the Marvel fanbase is the collection by Her Universe exclusively for Hot Topic (pictured above). Truth be told, just going by these pictures, I’m overall indifferent to the collection as a whole, but there are a few stand-out pieces:


    Black Widow Jacket is the clear star of the collection IMHO:

    photo: Hot Topic

    I wish there were close-ups of this gorgeous Stark Industries jacket:

    photo: Hot Topic

    Though I know my body type well enough to know this jaunty Thor dress would not flatter me, I do adore it. If I had one criticism for it, though, I’d say that a sailor style would be more Captain America. I’ll reserve a solid opinion each of these pieces until I see them in person, but I am curious what your thoughts are on this collection?



    photo: Hot Topic


    Set sail across the seas of fandom and feast your eyes on these lovely Sailor Moon accessories:



    Sailor Moon Serenity Crystal Wedding Tiara | photo: Bandai


    Taro Kamitani, who is known worldwide for his custom tiara creations, designed this stunning piece (going for an outrageously steep $3,500). Before now, the only officially licensed merchandise relating to this particularly unique piece was a toy:


    photo: Bandai

    A nice toy, lovely for any collection, but too clunky and small to truly wear – especially as an adornment for a special occasion.



    photo: Bandai

    Whether you want to collect it purely for collecting, or wear it at your own Sailor Moon inspired wedding (like Michelle’s Art Deco Sailor Moon wedding!) it’s nice to have a crystal tiara for us big kid Sailor Moon fans. It’s just a shame the price-tag is beyond insane for the cheap materials used for this item. My verdict? Make your own, or commission one of many lovely artists on Etsy to do so for you.




    Lastly, what better finish your Geek Chic outfit Marvel wares than a pair of Sailor Moon + Tyake Tyoke shoes? According to Sailor Moon Collectibles, these lovely Senshi footwear are scheduled to debut in early September 2015. You’ll be able to preorder them on April 28 via Premium Bandai or SuperGroupies.

    I’m all about those Luna flats, the Sailor Moon heels and deco-chic Jupiter pumps with the ankle strap. How about you?

    Del Real Foods Party Box Giveaway

    DelRealFoods0

    Despite having an awful amount of free time on my hands to cook up whatever whim grabs me, I am a slave to the random amount of energy my health allots me each day. Some days I am able to whip up not only breakfast, lunch, and dinner but several snacks, prep my brother’s lunch and meal plan for the rest of the week. On other days, I am bone dead tired and can’t be arsed to do more than the bare minimum. There are also days when I am actually – gasp! – busy! Perish the thought of this hermit actually venturing out of her cave, right?

    On the days when I am feeling BLAH or just have no time to even think about whipping up a dinner from scratch, I do reach for the prepackaged foods. I know, I know. Gag! Gasp! Blech! Retch! Right? When it comes to Del Real Foods, totally and utterly wrong!

    Founded in 2003 and based in Mira Loma, California, Del Real Foods is a premier prepackaged authentic Mexican food company. Their products are all cooked traditionally in small batches . Owned by the Cardenas family, the Del Real Foods recipes come from family recipes past down from generations. Del Real Foods is committed to preserving the rich gastronomy and traditions of Central Mexico, offering refrigerated products with authentic taste, using the freshest, locally sourced ingredients and cooked with traditional methods.

    If you’re experiencing a sense of déjà vu, it could be because I used the deliciously moist Del Real shredded chicken in my homemade Pozole Rojo last summer. I said it then and I will say it again: I would never promote, let alone host a giveaway, for a brand I had not already tasted and approved of!


    Al Pastor Soft Tacos by Del Real Foods
    Extreme Close-Up – whoooooa!

    One of the many items that appears in the Party Box PICNIC edition is the new Al Pastor Taco Kit. Within is 20 street taco sized corn tortillas, 24 oz. of fully cooked marinated pork, and a 12 oz. container of salsa roja. I put the taco kit to the test with mom and myself, heating the tortillas five seconds on each side in a cast iron skillet as I heated up the al pastor in another pan. Between these tasks and chopping up some onions, cilantro, limes and avocado for garnish, this took me a grand total of 10 minutes from start to plating. Not too shabby, eh?




    Party in a Box - Del Real Foods
    Win all of this mad delicious Mexican goodness!

    Now it’s your turn to get your Real Party and celebrate the dawning of spring with this supremely tasty Picnic Style Party Box! What you will receive:

    1. Al Pastor Taco Kit
    2. Carnitas
    3. Arroz
    4. Salsa Verde
    5. Chicken Tamales in green sauce
    6. Al Pastor pupusas
    All will be arriving in the insulated picnic basket with accompanying picnic blanket – perfect for your outdoor celebration (Cinco de Mayo, anyone?). The top of the blanket features a soft rainbow gingham fleece, while the bottom has the perfect material for laying on the ground ~ even if it’s a little damp! No grass stains and bits of wet foliage mangled in my nice picnic blanket, thank you very much.

    Rules: This contest is open to adults (18 and over) in the 48 continental states. Winner will be chosen at random and their email sent off to representatives of Del Real Foods. I am not in charge of sending the actual prize; Del Real Foods will take care of that. NO purchase necessary – and it will not increase your chances of winning.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway




    FTC Disclaimer: I am not being financially compensated to promote or host this giveaway. Del Real Foods provided me with samples of their products to assure it met my standards and they are providing the prize.


    Sweepstakes at Sweepstakes-Search.com