Although I blogged relatively recently, I figured I'd share what I've been up to since then. The last couple weeks have both been really stressful and awesome at the same time--stressful because of the presentation that I had to give and awesome because....well, food, friends, and hobbies. :)
The weekend after Disneyland was a chill, plan-free (and lab-filled) weekend. I went to Old Pasadena with a few friends to eat at this place called Dog Haus. I had a burger and tots and it was pretty awesome and cheap :) They use sweet hawaiian bread for the hot dogs and the burgers, which was very delicious.
The last week at Caltech was actually pretty hectic. I was trying to finish up some purifications before discovering that the FPLC column that I have to use was not working properly, so I was in lab for long hours on Monday and Tuesday. Most of us interns had to present on Thursday, so I spent Wednesday and Thursday preparing for that instead of doing actual benchwork. I did do some fun things though, like going out to Korean bbq for the last time for a while (Boston, why you no have kbbq -.-) and some good boba. If you're ever in the LA/Pasadena area, make sure to have a lot of boba. It's pretty amazing and there are a lot of good places.
Thursday evening was the semi-final and final rounds of the Caltech Iron Chef competition. Back in June, I had organized a team and we competed in the first round and barely won after having some major teamwork issues, and due to scheduling issues, the organizers had waited until the last Thursday to do both the semis and the finals. One of my team members couldn't make it but maybe that was for the better since we didn't have the 'too many cooks in the kitchen' problem this time.
The semifinal ingredients were cod, fresh fettucine, and vanilla beans. Interesting, right? The main organizer of this event is a trained chef, who also happens to be the director of student life at Caltech. He's really awesome and has a very well-stocked kitchen, to which we had access. I wasn't actually sure what to make of the vanilla beans, so we did a lime cream sauce on pan-fried (with butter and lime juice) cod and fettucine and a side of almost-caramelized carrots with vanilla beans. Apparently several of the teams had done some very sweet sauce with the pasta, and our citrusy flavor stood out, so we won that round and were able to compete with another team in the finals. I honestly didn't expect that at all, so this was a pleasant surprise.
The finals involved a bag of fingerling potatoes, one sweet potato, 4 duck breasts, and a bag of apples. I actually knew how to cook the duck from our first round, where we had to butcher the duck and cook it, so I think my team had a bit of an advantage (for those curious souls, you're supposed to cook the duck 30 minutes skin down and 1 minute on the other side to get the skin all crispy and the duck pink on the inside). We made a fingerling potato green bean salad, crispy skin duck with apple sauce, and honey and brown sugar glazed sweet potatoes with black sesame seeds. Our salad was pretty plain and the other team did a better job than we did on the potatoes, but apparently our duck was perfect (despite me serving it skin down.... whoops) and we ended up winning. :) It was probably the proudest moment of my entire college career, since usually classes are just frustrating....:P
After the competition, I talked to the organizer person for a bit about molecular gastronomy and he 1. gave me a super fancy book to look at and 2. gave me some chemicals to take home and play with! I took several chemicals back with me in ziploc bags, which actually made me nervous--if the TSA were to check my checked baggage, they might have found some very sketchy looking bags containing white powder. Fortunately, the chemicals are all safe, so some of you may see me doing some experiments in the LMF kitchen in the fall. :)
|that's not sketchy at all....|
So....that's what I've been up to in the last bit of the summer. I'm just spending this week listening to some good music and doing some work at home in upstate NY before going back to MIT on the 31st. I'm hoping it won't rain much because I already miss the Cali sun, but it already rained today and it's the 2nd day back so that isn't looking so good. I guess I could use some getting-used-to to the east coast weather again before the winter hits.
See you all soon!
-Sumin (or DJ Get Sum in.... my friends are very creative. I hope I didn't just scar frosh with that name)