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.

MOON POWER MONDAY! Recapping Sailor Moon Crystal ep. 24

Are we still keeping up with Sailor Moon Crystal, everyone? I know I am, and I have been recapping each episode on my YouTube Channel. For the supremely lazy, here is the latest edition of Moon Power Monday:





I don’t know about you, but if I were asked point-blank to pick between Sailor Moon R and Sailor Moon Crystal’s Black Moon Arc, I would pick the latter in a heartbeat. Most people would say blasphemy, but after being a fan for 20 years, I get tired of filler and irked greatly with Chibi Usa’s first animated personality. How about you?

Vernetti – Larchmont Village


Chef Steve Vernetti


Restaurants in their infancy can be a tricky situation. Everyone is a bundle of nerves: the chef wants their food to be perfection; the public relations want rave reviews and the invited media is simply hoping for the best (and hungry). And the best is certainly what Chef Steve Vernetti and wife Joanna gave at the media preview of their eponymous Italian-American restaurant in Larchmont Village.

Steve and Joanna Vernetti bought Larchmont’s beloved Italian restaurant, Girasole, in fall 2013, worked closely with its former owner during the transition, and have maintained the core kitchen and wait staff that made the restaurant such a special place.

Spoilers: everything served this night was absolutely amazing. It was difficult to not eat all of absolutely everything because I would have been full very early on. So I’ll only add my notes where necessary.


Vernetti Media Preview - Larchmont Village
Giardiniera

Comments: Nice tang. Really worth ordering to give your taste-buds a wake-up zing.


Vernetti Media Preview - Larchmont Village
Olive Bread + Olive Oil

Comments: Crusty and soft with big chunks of black olives. Delicious freshly hot out of the oven.


Vernetti Media Preview - Larchmont Village
Deviled egg crostini• white anchovy

Comments: Anchovy mellows out the paprika spice.

Vernetti Media Preview - Larchmont Village
Ceci bean crostini• mint, pecorino

Comments: Mint is potent. Tied with the deviled egg costini as my favorite.

Vernetti Media Preview - Larchmont Village
Roasted beet crostini • house ricotta, basil, toasted pistachios



Vernetti Media Preview - Larchmont Village
Salumi platter
prosciutto, porchetta, bresaola, spicy calabrese salami, house giardiniera


Comments: I could eat that bresaola until the day I die. The porchetta melts in your mouth. All of the meats are perfection.

Intervallo:Tagliatelle, rigatoni, spaghettini, pappardelle and ravioli are made with Vernetti’s Rosito Bisani TR 95 Pasta Extruder, a workhorse in the new kitchen. Seafood comes from boat-to-table, sustainable sources, and premium meats from a local, specialty butcher.


Vernetti Tasting
Pappardelle con funghi • sautéed wild mushrooms, cream, parmigiano

Comments: My favorite. Always has been, always will be. You and me, pappardelle + mushrooms. ‘Til death do us part.



Vernetti Media Preview - Larchmont Village
Rigatoni spuntature
braised short rib ragu, marrow, crispy greens, roasted tomatoes, breadcrumbs

Comments: I am not a short ribs fan; every time I have eaten short ribs, I have been pretty dissatisfied. This dish would have been my #1 favorite if my blind loyalty to mushrooms and pappardelle did not keep me on the straight & narrow. Seriously, I want a full serving of this. Mom’s favorite as well.


Vernetti Media Preview - Larchmont Village
Linguine alla vongole
manila clams, white wine, garlic, crushed red pepper

Comments: Another personal favorite and oh god even though it was a two-bite job, easily one of the best Linguine and clams I’ve ever eaten. It’s creamy rather than soupy, a task that is deceptively difficult when concerning pasta.


Vernetti Media Preview - Larchmont Village
Grilled octopus • creamy white beans, fennel and cabbage slaw

Comments: I wish I could have eaten more than a couple of bites, but warm cabbage + I do not get on well. The octopus was lovely, though.




Vernetti Media Preview - Larchmont Village
Bistecca alla fiorentina
dry aged prime porterhouse, baby arugula, shaved parmigiano

Comments: I have nothing to say because I am too busy eating and making noises I’d rather not…describe. Use your imagination.




Vernetti Media Preview - Larchmont Village
Seared yam and sage polenta cake

Intervallo: Chef Steve Vernetti’s take on Italian-American cuisine reflects a lifetime of diverse experiences and training. At age six, his mother taught him to cook on the family’s working ranch in Nevada, where they grew their own produce and raised livestock. As an adult, cooking became his vocation and Vernetti honed his art by traveling throughout Europe to Berlin, Paris, Venice, Florence, Amsterdam and Brussels. When Chef Vernetti and his wife, Joanna, now co-founder of a television production company and the restaurant’s creative visionary and business manager, moved back to the U.S. in the late 1990s, he cooked with The Patina Group in Los Angeles. The Vernettis settled in Larchmont and are now raising their three children here (adorable, by the way, as the proud chef shared photos with me).


Vernetti Media Preview - Larchmont Village
Cannoli • house ricotta cream, candied peel/pistachio

Comments: I cannot tell you how difficult it is to find a decent cannoli in this town. Thank goodness for people like Chef Vernetti who get its simple beauty.


Vernetti Media Preview - Larchmont Village
Panna Cotta • fresh strawberry composta

Comments: Throwing all caution and stomach warnings to the wind, I ate this with gusto and nearly licked my plate. My favorite dessert of the evening.


Vernetti Media Preview - Larchmont Village
Tiramisu

Comments: Took one bite before crumpling to the floor and slipping into a food coma.


Vernetti is in the restaurant every day, creating both traditional and innovative dishes – building on Girasole’s legacy, and filling his restaurant with the happy sounds of his community. During the remodel, he traveled, researched and tasted to ensure every dish at Vernetti is made with the highest quality ingredients. He continues to try new variations to menu items and add nuances while keeping all the favorites that Girasole patrons came to know and love.
“To own a restaurant right here in Larchmont Village, in the same neighborhood where we are raising our family, is pretty amazing,” said Chef Steve Vernetti. “Serving homemade pastas and choice cuts of meat and seafood, seasonal vegetables and baked goods, and seeing all that happens around a table set with a well prepared meal in a lovely setting is a dream come true.”


Vernetti
225 North Larchmont Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
323-798-5886
Facebook
Hours:
Dinner: 17:30–23:00
Lunch: 12–15:00 (beginning next week!)
Weekday Breakfast: 09-12 (SOON!)
Weekend Brunch: 09–14:00 (SOON!)

Hello Kitty LIVE Supercute Friendship Festival


Hello Kitty LIVE (photo credit: Sanrio)


Did you know that Hello Kitty turned 40 years old last year? Los Angeles has been lucky enough to host so many Hello Kitty celebrations including Hello Kitty Con last October and the Hello! exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum, which just closed this past weekend. Now the rest of America will have the chance to experience Hello Kitty Live!

Hello Kitty is hitting the road this week, with her first-ever live North American tour: Hello Kitty’s Supercute Friendship Festival. Sanrio and international tour producer VEE Corporation have partnered to create, design and produce this inaugural tour event. Going beyond a traditional live stage show, the event will offer a unique multi-component, walk around family-friendly festival atmosphere for Sanrio fans of all ages.

For the first time in North America, Hello Kitty and her supercute friends Dear Daniel, My Melody, Badtz-Maru, Keroppi, Chococat, and Purin will appear in this unique celebration of fun, friendship and Sanrio surprises! Each event will feature Hello Kitty and her friends in multi-stage live performances and DJ-driven dance sequences, as well as interactive exhibits, animation, art, fashion, photo opportunities, event-exclusive merchandise and much more, all in one immersive festival environment!


Hello Kitty and her friends

Hello Kitty Live features the music of Bruno Mars, Kylie Minogue, Clean Bandit, Charli XCX, Echosmith, Nonono, Flo.rida and more!

“The collaboration between VEE Corporation and Sanrio will invite fans to step inside a Hello Kitty wonderland in their hometown,” said Jim Waters, Senior Vice President of Production for VEE Corporation. “Together we’ve created an experience that Sanrio fans of all ages will enjoy.”

Festival Dates:
Denver, CO (June 5-7)
Los Angeles, CA (June 12-14)
San Diego, CA (June 19-21)
and over 35 cities across the country.

TICKETS & SCHEDULE: For full show schedule & tickets, please visit hellokittyfestival.com

Join the fun, friendship and festivities as Hello Kitty’s Supercute Friendship Festival makes a supercute stop in your city soon. Download the Hello Kitty Events App to stay updated with event information, connect with fans and earn supercute badges.



all photos are courtesy of Sanrio via Orsi Public Relations

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