Chez Panisse Chef Cal Peternell at Yale

When it was announced that Chef Cal Peternell from Chez Panisse was coming to Yale, I knew I had to go. It was like my two worlds — the Bay Area and Yale — were colliding in one fantastic meal. I had been to Chez Panisse once, on my fifteenth birthday. In addition, I had been to every Guest Chef (or as I commonly call it, “Celebrity Chef”) event hosted by Yale Dining. This was the first chef whose name I actually recognized. And so, even when I was put on the wait list for the event, I hounded the event coordinators to get in. And I did.

Like all of the previous Guest Chef Events, the menu was created by Chef Peternell, but the cooking was conducted by the Yale Dining staff. Some dishes were more stellar than others. Overall, all of the dishes were better than the dining hall food. Some of my eating-mates expressed disappointment, but I left my meal pleased.

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Iceberg lettuce salad.

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Deviled eggs with curry and saffron.

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The roasted butternut squash hummus was excellent. I probably devoured 3/4 of this bowl.

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Chef Peternell spoke, but mostly read from his new book.

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These meatless meatballs were meh.

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The twice-cooked pork with salsa verde was definitely the best main dish. Filling, rich, and good.

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Braised chicken legs.

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The macaroni and cheese was no different from the regular dining hall macaroni and cheese (which is pretty good) save for the oven-baked bread cumb topping.IMG_1093

Pear upside-down cake.

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Student-Run Hospitality at House of York

This year’s Yale Pop-up project, run by Lucas Sin, is House of York — a family-style restaurant open on Friday’s in the Davenport Buttery. My friend Jake and I were lucky enough to get a reservation their first week (and their opening night!). Obviously, the dishes were far superior from the dining halls, and I loved the family-style concept. This first week, the Vietnamese fried chicken main was the shining star. The smorgasbord of side dishes that came along all had their own unique concepts, but were less stellar in comparison. I can testify to the fact, however, that House of York keeps on getting better and better every week. I would make a point to go at least once this semester.

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Sesame rice crackers with edamame-miso hummus

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Stem stir fry — massaro farm bok choy and chinese broccoli

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Sausage buns — chinese preserved sausage, mushrooms

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Saigon charcuterie — cha lua, smoked tofu, fish cake

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Spring rolls — rice paper, beets

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Buttered corn with nuoc cham, bird chilies, fried shallots

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Avocado seaweed salad with ginger wasabi, and lime

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Sweet potato cakes with tom yum paste and coconut cream

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Vietnamese fried chicken with beet juice barbeque sauce and chipotle aioli

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Mango Sorbet with thai basil shortbread, goji berries, dried lilies

P.S. Dessert was also divine.

The Pantry

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Earlier this year, when the days were sunny and the leaves were still green, CP and I took a nice, long stroll to The Pantry – one of New Haven’s best and most renowned brunch establishments. We had to wait in line, but the weather was nice and the wait was nothing too extreme. The food was well worth the wait.

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The Pantry is known for their Cinnamon Roll pancakes. If you go to Yale, chances are you’ve seen at least a few Instagram’s of one of The Pantry’s Cinnamon Roll pancakes. The pancakes are huge, delicious, and decadent.

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We also ordered the Eggs Benedict. They were the best Eggs Benedict I have ever had. CP and I both agreed that the Eggs Benedict were, in fact, better than the Cinnamon Roll Pancakes.

Together, between the pancakes and Eggs Benedict, we had a fantastic meal that was both savory and sweet.

nom.

There are a lot of things I have eaten and photographed that I should and need to talk about. I’m going to start with nom.

Ever since I learned about Nom., the student run restaurant at Yale, I have wanted to try it.  I finally organized myself and booked a reservation – unbeknownst to me, I booked a reservation for their last open day.

The pop-up restaurant is located in Davenport College’s buttery, and nom. made use of all of the space there was to offer, using both the kitchen and the buttery countertop, and filling all of the remaining space with tables and chairs for customers. I went in a group of four people and we ordered virtually everything on the menu. The dishes are small, tapas-style.

The flavors were great and the ideas were fresh. Although the execution was not always perfect, the food and the restaurant as a whole far exceeded my expectations for what is a student-run restaurant out of a basement. This kind of idea and project is what makes me oh-so proud and happy to be a part of the Yale community. It is also embodies what makes the Yale experience so yummy – a pervasive passion for food.

We started with a bunch of small dishes (think banchan style, the smorgasbord of small dishes that precede a traditional Korean meal). These included:

The kimchi carbonara

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The tsukune slider – chicken-mushroom burger, red miso, papaya-daikon slaw

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The glazed eggplant

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The tom yum tacos – shrimp, coconut tom yum sauce, mushroom soil, lime

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The chopped chicken salad

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The Cantonese pork belly

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And The nom khao (Laotian fried rice ball)

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The best were by far the Cantonese pork belly and the nom khao. Although the rice of the pork belly was a bit hard and undercooked, the flavors were spot-on. We ordered more and extra of the nom khao to fill our bellies. The glazed eggplant was also a hit, as were the tsukune sliders. The chopped chicken salad was my least favorite.

For dessert, we all split a hodge podge which consisted of frozen pound cake, mixed berry compote, greek yogurt, coconut, nutella, and more. How could you not like?

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We accompanied our meal with yujacha soda, made of Korean citron tea and homemade soda. I loved it, though my dining companions were less keen on it. I grew up with citron tea, however, and already love those flavors.

Overall, my thoughts: nom.

A Respite with Restaurant Week: Ibiza

Last week was New Haven Restaurant Week. I saw the week-long event as an opportunity to try out some of the restaurants in New Haven, where fine dining has blossomed in recent years. On a Wednesday night, I tried Ibiza with a bunch of girl friends. The restaurant is extremely close to campus, and I have passed by Ibiza on many occasions. The restaurant is always crowded late into the night, and I was excited to finally try it.

Dinner was delicious and filling. The menu provided a variety of dishes ranging from those tastefully simple (say mushroom risotto) to those more complex in flavor and concept (the lobster with caramelized endive foam). All in all, the consensus was that the meal was an overwhelmingly positive experience – it was especially nice to taste fresh seafood as opposed to whatever sea-faring animals they serve us in the dining hall.

Here’s what we had:

Ensalada de gamba y aguacate – Grilled shrimp and avocado mixed green salad

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Ensalada de pulpo – Grilled ocotpus salad

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Trio de tapas – Codfish mousse, Boquerón, avocado and cilaniro purée, Grill chorizo sausage and green lentil salad

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Langosta – Steaed Maine lobster off the shell, carmelized endive foam, sautéed oyster and shiitake mushrooms, fingerling potatoes, lobster oil

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Arroz de setas – Mushroom risotto, tetilla cheese, truffle oil

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Raya – grilled skate fish and polenta-cauliflower cake

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Lemon bavaroise with fresh fruit salad

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Best Value Meal Swipe: Suvir Saran at Yale

I’ve discovered there is some value in checking my e-mail in college. Free shirts, free cookies, free concerts, and sometimes – an essentially free meal by a Michelin-star chef. When I saw the e-mail from Yale Dining about a “Celebrity Cooking Demo,” I immediately signed up. Supposedly, the sign-up sheet was filled within a matter of minutes.

For my $12 dollar meal swipe, I received a four-course meal on linen tablecloths served by waiters in white – a stark contrast to the usual buffet-style dinners served in the dining hall. Most of all, I enjoyed sitting down for a meal (it lasted over two hours) during a hectic week of midterms. Meals here often feel, and are, rushed. It was nice to take time talk with friends and strangers alike over good food.

When I arrived at the table, I was immediately thrust a basket of warm pita and urged to try the various dips set up. They were delicious. My favorite was the baba ganoush, or as Suvir Saran described it, his “eggplant salsa.” The red salsa on the left also had a great kick to it (and no, it tasted nothing like Mexican salsa). The hummus was nice, but did not come close to the superior texture and taste of the Armenian hummus I enjoy in San Francisco.

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Suvir Saran spoke for quite a while on the dishes we were being served and his interest in producing healthy, sustainable food. Unfortunately, once the dishes were served (as Saran was speaking), the focus was on eating food and not listening to him.

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Shrimp in Curry with Corn. The curry was positively delicious.

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The next few dishes were served family style.  Please excuse the less than ideal photography (a result of the lighting and my distance from certain dishes on the table). They were less satisfying after the fabulous shrimp, but more satisfying than a typical dining hall meal.

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The dessert was definitely the least satisfying dish as the flavors were bland and the texture grainy and foreign. It was a kind of Indian pudding with raisins. I don’t think the Commons dining hall staff knew what they were serving.

ImageThanks Suvir for the best dining hall meal I’ve had yet!

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