Teach Me How: Your Oldest Family Recipe

IMG (2)-page-001 I looked down at the ingredients my roommate Ariana had laid out on the kitchen counter. Huh. No skewers. This week, I’d asked Ariana to walk me through her favorite family recipe and was a little taken aback to find that “chelo kabobs” do not in fact involve skewers. “When people think of kabobs, they always think of the Mediterranean version,” she told me as she grabbed ingredients from the fridge. She’d been craving this special recipe and was quick to get started on teaching me about all the different types of Persian kabobs: “there is one with steak and one with chicken… but my favorite type is made with lean ground beef,” and that’s just the one we made.

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First, Ariana shredded the onion (tears ensued) and mixed the shreds in with the beef. She then seasoned it and placed the meat on the pan like one big pancake. As clearly I was the less experienced cook in the kitchen, I was delegated the task of chopping the bell pepper and tomatoes. After cutting the giant meat patty with the spatula, we flipped the slivers of meat and added the veggies in to cook. Then Ari whipped up yogurt, cucumbers and mint and made “mast o’khiar” which is basically an amazing creamy sauce. And just a note–it was not a dash of mint, it was a ton, making the concoction seem almost like a green sauce.

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9“This is me and my sister’s favorite thing to eat… it is making me miss my family right now” she said as we started putting our plate together. We made some rice and paired it with the kabobs and the mast o’khiar. Ariana told me about the spice, sumac, which she loves to put on the rice to add Persian flavor. “My grandfather made the best kabobs and rice, and he always put a ton of sumac on the rice.”

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Finally it was time to try our creation, which smelled (and tasted) incredible. Ariana was beaming, so happy to eat the meal that reminds her the most of home during Berkeley’s treacherous and high stress midterm season.

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LOST AND UNDERAGE: PORTLAND

Handcrafted Kryptonite Lock holsters.  Hair Salons for l’Homme.  Leather business cards.  More square inches of tatted skin per capita than any other population.  Enter Portland, Oregon.  Some places are just worth checking out with some time to blow and a notebook in hand, and when you’re not of legal age in an artisan bar capital, the journey is limited to a dry route of the city.  Join a Portland newcomer for an abridged guide to some downtown Rip City escapades that lived up to all of my wildest stereotypes.


 

While a friend works a boring 9-to-5 at a local shoe store I have his old Schwinn to scrape around on which inadvertently led me to…

IMG_4932Courier Coffee- Nothing was cooler than this cup of hot coffee.  Shoegazer rock that I likened to a lazier version of My Bloody Valentine echoed from a pink vinyl spinning on the electric record player.  When I asked for some water the barista inquired, “sparkling or distilled?”  I was gripped by déjà vu, half believing I was back in Shangri-La at the Yo-Yo Ma afterparty.  Enjoying my water as close to its natural state as possible, I chose the latter, and our friend procured a large canning jar from the mini-fridge filled with clear liquid.  He proceeded to fill a smaller Kerr jar with my distilled H2O.  I thought this was a real kick.  Both employees behind the counter looked like backup guitarists for Mac Demarco.  I ordered a delicious brick of gluten-free granola.  I want to build my house out of these bars for their impenetrable heartiness and physical durability then proceed to eat out a door for myself.

Maak (Soap) Lab- When I went inside of this factory store I wasn’t sure if it was an art gallery, woodworking guild or homeopathic incense store.  Turns out they make soap.  I chatted with Taylor, the store’s patron, and he told me a little about the process of making artisan suds and the Portland soap game at large.  By the time he came around to talking about cedar extract exfoliants, I felt like it would have been criminal to walk out without buying a bar.  Nine dollars later I had myself a small cardboard box containing Taylor’s espresso bar soap with “notes of local dark roasted coffee and toasted oats” and a bagful of complimentary samples to gift to roommates.  Whether expensive soaps are your dig or not, I recommend that everyone stop by to chat with the tall, dark, handsome, and tactfully conversational Taylor.

Cool Dads- Impeccably disheveled hair. Leather and Paisley suspenders.  Turtleshell Burbury’s.  White button-down tucked into straight-legged tweed slacks.  The grand finale: knee-high, leather Armani riding boots.  What do all of these have in common?  Cool Dad #4 donned them all as ordered his cappuccino.IMG_4906

Foodtrucks- Blocks of them.  For some cruel reason Anna Thai Basil and Thai Basil had to park directly next to each other.  I spent ten minutes trying to distinguish any dissimilarity in the menus, portions and/or food quality and found none.  Some of the featured dishes employed the same Google-poached stock images.  I let the shorter line decide and went with Anna’s hot chicken pumpkin curry.  It was hot. It greatly pleased my taste-buds.  I ate it in a nearby park where homeless men checked their emails on MacBook Pros and took slow puffs from their $200 Pax vaporizers.

Ruby Jewel Scoops- Early Tom Petty and some handmade ice cream anyone?  Dapper dads crawl around this place with their spawn like ants on a fallen popsicle.  The tatted-up, blue-haired cashier recommends the Caramel Bacon Brittle and I took her advice.  It doesn’t disappoint.  Fun fact: The pink painted USPS dropbox is NOT a garbage can.  A large chalk mural reads “Ruby Jewel Celebrates Dads” and exhibits a crudely drawn man with a chalk tie and lifeless eyes.  As more customers snake through the line I realize this place is a feeding ground for young dads and I begin to feel a bit on edge– like a caged scuba diver surrounded by a school of disinterested reef sharks.

Powell’s City of Books- Anyone will tell you to go here and I am no exception.  When all the chairs were occupied, I squatted on a block in the children’s section and was entertained for a half hour as a methhead tried (unsuccessfully) to find something in his back pocket.  I picked through zines—zines about being gay, zines about Prince, zines about art, zines about zines… And settled on one compilation where writers responded to the question: “What gets you up in the morning?”  Maybe my reason for getting off the couch this morning was to buy this zine, with its ingeniously witty installations, mediocre print quality and unbeatable price of $1.99.

Thanks for accepting me as a consumer Portland <3.

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SF Mission Street: A Journey to becoming “Uniquely Cool”

 

On the Friday of the dead week, I finally went to the famous Mission Street in San Francisco with my high school friend. I always wanted to go there seeing many photos taken at Mission Street by my artsy friends on Instagram. The photos showed many beautiful mural paintings and I felt a bit more strongly than usual the urge to remember to go to the place one day. Ironically, that day I finally made to Mission Street was the Friday of the dead week, one of the busiest days of the semester.

We took bart to get to Mission. The farthest I got on bart was till the Civic Center station so I never knew there was station literally named as “16th St Mission.” Our first destination was Four Barrel cafe. The cafe was so pretty and nice “inside out”. By “inside out”, I mean the appearance and the taste of coffee, respectively. The cafe had a special kind of ambience. I would like to call it, “raw aesthetics.” It was mostly brownish and blackish all around. There was a sense of ruggedness to the kind of feeling that we got from looking around the cafe. The whole space was pretty large, including a small factory place at the back of the cafe where the process of coffee beans is done. That raw kind of feeling was well-matched with the small factory place and the coffee-bean machine that were taking up the half of the cafe space. Everything was pretty boundless and open. People could watch the factory over their wooden coffee tables. There were several art pieces hang on one side of a wall and they all were geometric shapes. The cafe had that distinct sort of a raw beauty.

Second place we went was the coolest thrift shop I have ever been to. The shop’s name is NO. The name is simple and strange so I wonder what would be the meaning behind its name. There were lots of nostalgic yet still-fashionable used clothes. The clothes were unique in their own styles that I felt like I could take them all to my closet. The clothes were special fashion pieces that a person can not easily find in common clothing stores in shopping districts. I finally entered the world of thrift shops and I am sure my start is a very special and good one. I did not buy any because I wanted to be extra-careful and make the best choice of my life and also because I wanted to have an excuse to visit the shop once again. My friend got unique pastel-orange flannel.
After getting out of NO, we went to a series of many other cool thrift shops that were on the walk along Mission Street and took some rest at the Dolores Park as the end of our journey. Mission imbued with creative spirit that comes from so many thrift shop that seemed like telling each one of them’s own unique stories. There were so many delicious things too. The Four Barrel coffee and the hand-made ice cream we brought to the park were the best. Mission was so uniquely cool and it urged the people there to be like that too. It was not only a place of everything but also a place of niche. Everyone should go to Mission at one time of their lives and find their own niche coolness. Mission is the place of self-discovery and self-exploration.

BARE Reviews: Sushi Secrets

I’ll admit it: I’m a bit of a sushi purist. Not completely, of course–the occasional elaborate, punny-named, “Asian fusion” roll still catches my eye–but in general, when it comes to sushi, simplicity is the key to my heart.

So when Sushi Secrets, a fast-casual restaurant whose main draw is its wide array of packed-full sushi “burritos”, came to Shattuck Ave., I was a little skeptical. Their offerings seemed too far a departure from my beloved nigiri and California rolls to suit my tastes. But naturally, I eventually came around and decided to pop in for a quick bite.

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The ambiance in Sushi Secrets is very college-student: informal, laid-back, and designed for the on-the-go diner. There’s a comfortable disconnect between the decor (artsy wall decorations, including a fancy lampshade installment), the music (Japanese rock), and the TV (Toy Story 2). Seating is fairly sparse, since this is mainly a to-go place; however, there is a lounging area in the back facing the TV. Overall, the atmosphere is neither welcoming nor repelling, it’s just there in the event that you choose to make use of it. I went during off hours and was one of three people who made that choice.

Sushi Secrets’ counter has an assembly-line of proteins, vegetables, and sauces. All the basic sushi roll proteins are there, including imitation crab salad, spicy tuna, salmon, tempura shrimp, unagi, and tamago. The vegetables range from the standard cucumber, carrot, and avocado to the not-so-standard sweet corn and jalapeño. Sauces are mainly aiolis, and range from sweet to savory and mild to spicy. Garlic aioli, wasabi aioli, and sriracha aioli are just some of the restaurant’s many sauce offerings. As for the sushi burritos themselves, Sushi Secrets offers two options: the eight menu rolls ($7.99 + tax), which include a range of fish rolls and one vegetarian roll, and the customizable roll ($8.99 + tax), which allows for two proteins, three sauces, and unlimited veggies. They also offer a tuna poke salad, a sashimi bowl, and takoyaki balls. I sampled two menu rolls and one customized roll.

The first roll I tried was the Denemon, the veggie roll from the menu. Of the rolls I tried, this was my least favorite. There was too much filling for the amount of rice on the roll, which detracted from both the taste and texture qualities. Additionally, despite the many vegetables inside the roll–including eggplant, carrot, corn, and a delicious sweet potato which I wish there had been more of–it was the shredded cabbage that somehow stole the show. The roll also tasted somewhat bland and dry compared to the others, which leads me to believe that maybe I got a mis-made roll. I’ll have to go back and check, but for now, my opinion on the Denemon is that it’s pretty disappointing.

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The Bijoubu roll: unagi, tamago, imitation crab salad, cucumber, shredded cabbage, and julienned carrots.

The second roll I tried was the Bijoubu, whose main components were unagi, tamago, and imitation crab salad. This one was much better than the Denemon, though there still wasn’t enough rice. The flavors meshed well, though they were a little sweet, and there was just enough aioli that the roll didn’t feel dry, but not so much that it overpowered the other flavors. All in all, aside from the sweetness, the Bijoubu is a pretty good roll.

The customized roll: spicy tuna, tempura shrimp, cream cheese, cucumber, shredded cabbage, and julienned carrot.
The customized roll: spicy tuna, tempura shrimp, cream cheese, cucumber, shredded cabbage, and julienned carrot.

The third and final roll I tried was a customized roll. This one was hands-down the best. With the menu rolls, I felt that there was always something slightly off, or something I would have changed if it had been me making the roll. Obviously, being able to pick and choose what I wanted made that issue nonexistent. I chose a spicy tuna and shrimp tempura roll, added some spicy-savory aiolis, and piled on the veggies. One of the possible downsides of getting a customized roll is that there are so many different protein, sauce, and vegetable offerings that it can be a little difficult to know which will go well together. However, the staff was knowledgeable and very willing to recommend sauces and vegetables that would go well with my protein choices. Despite my constant complaint of Sushi Secrets’ burritos not having enough rice, this roll was delicious. I would highly recommend going with the customizable roll option.

Conclusion? Still somewhat skeptical, but a lot less so. All of the rolls have a high filling-to-rice ratio, which can be a little off-putting, and the menu rolls, while still tasty, seem to have some flavor combinations that are slightly out of whack. The customizable roll, though priced slightly higher, is a better option than the menu rolls, and the knowledgeable staff can recommend delicious combinations of flavors and textures. Overall, Sushi Secrets is a solid place to grab a quick lunch or dinner, and they offer free delivery after 5pm, for those of you who want the convenience of Nude Sushi coupled with the novelty of the sushi burrito.

Visit Sushi Secrets:
2110 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 210-8568

TOTALLY TAKE OUT

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After a long weekend of feasting on Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, it’s safe to say you and your stomach need a break! But before you unfollow all your food porn favorites, indulge in TOTALLY TAKE OUT, a vibrant and flavorful shoot that will get your taste buds going– and you sweating. These dudes show us that food can be both fun and sexy, and that us girls aren’t the only ones who have to hold a juicy burger while striking a pose. Let’s be totally thankful that we have some stylin’ boys who will take us out for a bite, all while helping with our Post-Thanksgiving detox. There’s no need for hitting up the gym this year. Instead, let’s just grab a side of benefits with our tasty, new friends.

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Creative Director & Lead Stylist: Alexa Penn

Production Team: Celestine Griffin & Leah Hotchkiss

Photographer: Lieyah Dagan 

Models: Tom Edmondson, Joseph Buchan, & Marko Gluhaich

Clothing: Mars Vintage & Various Closets 

Smitten by John’s

Dude, I love John’s Ice Cream. Especially their birthday cake flavor, oh man…too bad, they upped the price by 25 cents, but I guess $1.25 isn’t too bad. Ube is good too, and Susan said Thai Tea is her favorite. But yeah this article isn’t about John’s, it’s about the place I went to yesterday — Smitten Ice Cream.

The bus was so slow I think I could’ve gotten here faster by walking…

At the last blog meeting Caroline was like “so what are you going to write about” and I was like ah fuck it I’ll just write about the ice cream place we went to last semester that someone was supposed to write about (possibly me) but no one ended up writing about.

Another shot of the front of Smitten

So I walk in the place, looks alright, it’s got this sort of Chipotle-esque interior with like metal and wood everywhere and these ridges on the wall, and the open kitchen and behind-the-counter area where you can see all the prep that’s going on. And in front of the customers there’s six big metal machines that are constantly mixing ice cream and spewing out clouds of smoke like fog machines.

A big tank of nitrogen greets you on your way in
Sold behind the counter for you to express how smitten you are by Smitten
My photographer’s best attempt at capturing the continuous outpour of “smoke”

A large billboard on their wall explains that the smoke is from the liquid nitrogen that they apply to freeze their ice cream. Apparently this process makes their ice cream creamier and unique. Cool, can’t wait to try it. I’m busy telling my photographer to take better pictures, but I manage to glance over their menu and see that they have a bunch of different sizes and toppings and everything. But they carry only a handful of flavors…maybe they change it up every few weeks or something.

Not just ice cream; they’ve got sundaes, floats, and brittle too

Alright….I’m being informed by my photographer right now that their menu reads “Today’s Flavors” so it’s in fact possible they change the flavors every day. I suddenly realize that I didn’t ask for some BARE money to buy the ice cream with, but my photographer reassures me that our purchases will be reimbursed by the BARE finance team so I hand over my credit card slightly less uneasily, ordering salted caramel in a cone for myself and maple brown sugar squash in a cup as requested by my photographer. She really did request it. No lie. I am sure she will enjoy her flavor thoroughly and I’m almost a little regretful I didn’t order it myself.

The cone costs $6.20 and the cup costs $5.45 (both in size small) which is “fucking expensive” according to my photographer and, yeah, I guess it’s pricey but it’s probably because this place opened not too long ago — it probably costs a lot to have a huge tank of nitrogen that’s constantly pumping out gas onto the ice cream and the customers. Anyway, there’s a good number of people in Smitten’s today, so we have to wait a bit before we get our cone and cup.

For some reason, the cup comes out a lot faster than the cone, but it’s all good. Instead of eating it right away though, my photographer takes so many pictures of the ice cream that it starts to melt in my very hands, which is unexpected considering on their very walls Smitten promotes their special “liquid nitrogen” cooling process that their apply to their ice cream and measures a cool -321 degrees Fahrenheit.

Maple brown sugar squash

Haha, whatever, I’m sure it was just because my hands are really warm; I told my mom that I have circulation problems and that my body is overall warmer than the average person’s but she ignored me.

My ice cream, almost ready

After a while my cone comes out and, by this time, my photographer’s ice cream is nearly 100% liquid. I am forced to wait some more before I can eat my cone as pictures of the ice cream are taken.

Mine’s salted caramel ^o^

And then…finally! Oh that magnificent first bite. I can’t describe how good that very first moment of sinking my teeth into ice cream feels. Every subsequent bite just isn’t on par. The salted caramel is decently caramel-y though it tastes different than other salted caramels I’ve tasted in my day and I just cannot quite put my finger on what it is.

I look over at my photographer and the look on her face captures the sheer joy she is feeling as she spoons maple brown sugar squash into her pie hole.

All right,  to be honest, she didn’t like it and I end up having to finish the ice cream for her because I’m Chinese and don’t like to waste food even if it’s, in her words, “digusting”.

All in all, I would say Smitten’s is the place for you if you’re looking to try a new place and you’ve got some extra cash on hand. Despite what my photographer claims, the ice cream is fresh and enjoyable, but seems to melt quickly, and there’s usually a wait because a lot of people come here. In short, it’s just a personal matter of price and value, and for me, being on the college budget and all, I’ll be sticking with my single scoop of birthday cake flavor from John’s. But I’d definitely eat here again…if you pay for me.

– Kyle

(Photo credits: Susan “Big Complainer” Lee)

My Time in the Middle East

I left California to begin my long journey to the Middle East to visit my family in Jordan and Palestine. I will be traveling for three weeks, and can’t wait to document my time there. For the first stop, I flew out of LAX to the airport in Istanbul, Turkey. After a long and tiring 13 hour flight, my family and I decided to take advantage of the few hours we had in Turkey during our layover. We left the airport with a few pieces of luggage still in our hands and began to walk the streets of Istanbul. Not being able to speak or understand the Turkish language, we somehow managed to call a taxi, find a restaurant on the beach, and explore the beautiful city and its streets. In only a few hours, we ate delicious food, met great people, and saw amazing sights-an awesome start to our travels. This is my second time in Turkey, and I definitely plan to come again.

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I spent my last few weeks abroad in the Middle East where I went to Jordan and Palestine to visit family and have a good time. Despite the violence and political issues going on in these areas, my family decided to continue with our trip and enjoy our short vacation. With a huge family and over 60 first cousins, there was never a dull moment. I caught up with cousins who I haven’t seen in years, reminisced on childhood memories with my grandparents, ate delicious home cooked Middle Eastern meals, attended my cousin’s wedding, and walked the streets of some of the most historical cities in the world. It was exciting and interesting to be apart of a completely different society and live with those of a different world than my own. Now back in my California home, I miss my family and time in my parent’s homeland and can’t wait to return and make more amazing memories with everyone.

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Matteo Porcedda – Eat, Cook, Love

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Matteo Porcedda, a second year rhetoric major, has lived in Cloyne for almost a year. He is a passionate musician and cook: he is equally crazy about hip hop music as he is about some good old baked chicken. In Cloyne, not only has he found a second home, but a source of musical inspiration, and a dream kitchen where he could ‘get wild’ with food. Currently one of the fourteen head cooks of Cloyne, Matteo takes pride in serving his family’s recipe to satiate a hundred and fifty members of the house. Although this requires hours of work and preparation, he makes no complaint. Instead, he sees its as an outlet to express his love for Cloyne. He is also adventurous and spontaneous. In Cloyne he finds the perfect environment and liberty to unleash the side of his. In today’s article, Matteo tells us about the joys and challenges of being head cook, and the perks of living in Cloyne.

Matteo began as an assistant cook last semester (Fall 2013), he initially tried out to be a head cook and unfortunately didn’t make the cut. ‘I was heartbroken’, he says as he stares into far space, as if he could still experience the emotional pain, ‘I’m Italian and cooking is in my blood. It’s really personal to me and I even wrote about it in my poetry class.’ Undefeated, Matteo was happy to participate again in the cooking trial this semester. Cooking has long been his family tradition and culture, and being able to showcase his father’s recipe to his fellow housemates adds on to his excitement and ambition. This time, he made a minestrone soup.

‘I remember it was like the size of a canon and I had to reach in with my whole arm, I felt like the captain of a ship,’ he giggles as he describes, ‘It was so stressful and half way through I didn’t think I was going to make it on time. When I was making it and I wondered, “Are people going to like this? I put everything into this – are they gonna think it’s some weird Italian soup?”’

After hours of sweat and uncertainty, Matteo’s hard work eventually paid off. The house loved the soup and finally elected him as a head cook. ‘People kept on coming up to me and complimenting on the soup. This speak a lot about the benefits of co-op living: having a community that notices, validates and affirms you, and it takes time to do so.’

From then on, Matteo has been taking weekly cook shifts with another fellow head cook and three other assistant cooks. Cooking for a large house like Cloyne is definitely no easy task. Every workday he begins his shift at two in the afternoon, and food has to be ready at exactly seven. Five hours is barely enough time for Matteo. ‘Say when we’re doing a chicken,’ Matteo explains, ‘we also have to think of gluten free option, vegan option, vegetarian option, and on top of that there are also salad and dessert. When we don’t make it on time, people start to complain – they get hungry, you know? Everyone’s busy at Cal and has their own thing to do.’ He admits that cooking indeed is a stressful and tiring process, and half-jokingly says that by the end of it, he just wants to take a nap. However, cooking is more than just a routine to him. In the midst of panic and distress, cooking is an excellent way to build friendship.

‘The whole idea of having to maintain something is sort of like taking care of this big kid of the house. We (the cooks) are all like parents, who have to take care of it together, and I feel like that unites us. Especially on a scale this big – when we’re cooking, we’re cooking for a hundred and fifty people; if we’re making brownies, we’re using forty cups of flour; if we’re making chickens, we’re making ten chickens. It’s a lot of food, and it becomes like the Food Network Challenge sometimes. We unite through this conflict, and we become friends. Being involved in a work situation like this really has brought us together, and allowed us to be emotionally vulnerable with each other.’

More importantly, it is simply the joy that he sees in his fellow housemates after serving them a good dinner that gives him the ultimate motivation. ‘We do it to show our love for the co-op, so it’s more than just getting the job done. We do really care about this house.’

His specialty is chicken, and he is particularly proud of his range of dishes that he is able to create with chicken. He could happily talk about making chicken as long as he pleases.

‘My fellow cook Aaron and I, we like to get kind of wild with our chicken. So, the other day we made this pineapple garlic glazed chicken. We didn’t know if it was going to work – we stuffed it with pineapple, put some ground garlic under the skin then made some pineapple syrup to go on top of it, but you gotta risk for the biscuit, and it ended up being bomb – so bomb. We’re lucky to have good chickens too.’ The food managers of Cloyne are in charge of finding the most local and sustainable food that fit within their budget. Eighty percent of their groceries are organic – meat such as chicken, comes from animals that are locally raised. ‘It’s nice to have that resource support,’ says Matteo, ‘It’s like we have a whole farmers market in our fridge. We have beets, mushrooms, green onions, eggs, cabbage – everything.’

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When asked what his favourite house event is, Matteo gives a long pause before he eventually responds. It turns out that (surprisingly), his favourite event is food-related. ‘I’d say special brunch that we had last semester.  You can hear all about special brunch, but you won’t get the real feel until you actually taste the food! People prepare for this two weeks in advance. They choose a recipe, and there are twenty cooks, each with a dish to feed up to fifty people. I ended up making a hundred baked potatoes, and there were also gingerbread houses, sausages, breaded meat… It was a really creative moment. It could be perceived as wasteful but we were conscious of that, we put the leftovers in the fridge. It wasn’t just about the eating either. We rented out a bouncy house, it was a beautiful day and we had music and sunshine and everyone was dancing and dressed up in lederhosens.’

Besides cooking, Matteo likes to produce hip-hop music and play the guitar in his free time. He is grateful that Cloyne gives him the opportunity to so, as he often visits the music room which only people with instruments have a key to.

‘I love spending time there and making music. I’d be working on a music project down there and another person will come in, and they’d be playing jazz, or practising vibes. I like to be interrupted by them. It opens my mind.’

Not only does he find Cloyne musically stimulating, but also intellectually as Cloyne is home to all types of majors.  ‘People are in the kitchen or study room studying every night. There’s definitely a communal energy of studying together, and what’s cool is hearing all these conversations during these study sessions that happen between disciplines. Any sort of conversation that happens during this time has a very diverse group of voices, and sometimes there are disagreements. That’s my favourite part. This house cannot be summed up as one culture. ’

No longer able to live in Cloyne, Matteo will miss the most the open-mindedness that is unique to Cloyne. ‘It provides the opportunity to experiment, not in terms of using drugs,’ Matteo explains, ‘but say if I want to dress up as a girl – I could mess around with gender norms, and play with my sexuality without being labelled. It’s very socially progressive in that sense that we try to break that gender boundary, and it gives people a safe place to experiment. It’s hard to find the same environment anywhere else.’ A mural that says ‘I’m glad that we met’ at the entrance of the house sums up his bittersweet emotions.

‘College is a very fleeting place, so is Cloyne, we’re only here for four years and in the end, people go separate ways and live separate lives. It reminds me of my dad’s philosophy on life, like what he said before he passed away, è stato bellissimo, meaning it was beautiful. It’s about accepting the truth and closure on things, but also appreciating the beauty of it. ‘

2014-04-05 08.36.01 2.jpgArticle written by Loretta Chan. Images c/o of Loretta Chan.

Bakery Review: Cakes and Purls

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The cupcake boom is far from over in California, and while Berkeley has yet to see the opening of a Sprinkles store, it does have a quaint cupcakery of its own – Cakes and Purls, located on Allston Way (between Oxford and Shattuck).

This weekend I was feeling nostalgia for the ubiquitous cupcake stores of my hometown in Los Angeles, and decided to venture out to downtown Berkeley to ease my cupcake craving. Those with a sweet tooth can probably agree with me that this dessert is a simple but satisfying treat.

Upon entering the shop, I was surprised to find charmingly cute décor adorning the walls and spacious room with plenty of tables and chairs. The interior of the bakery was clearly decorated with creativity and thought. Brick-lined walls lend a warm feeling to the place while the soft, natural lighting makes it a location to study or relax on the weekends. The rolls of yarn lining the shelves of a wall bring a unique coziness to the atmosphere of the shop. The owner seems passionate about both baking and crocheting, and even told me that she holds crocheting classes on certain days.

The actual cupcake section of the shop is not large, but includes interesting flavors such as Lemon Curd and Salted Caramel. Although I went for the cupcakes, I was also tempted to try the brownies and cheesecakes that are offered. In addition, an array of gluten-free and vegan choices are on the menu.

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I tried two flavors: Peanut Butter & Chocolate and Red Velvet. The frosting was delicious and all the flavors were spot on, but the best part was that neither of the cupcakes was overbearingly sweet. I often find that to be the common fault of most cupcake bakeries, so it was a pleasant surprise for Cakes and Purls to be the exception. My only complaint was that the cake was somewhat dry, not the fresh-out-of-the-oven moistness I was hoping for.

For vegans and the health-conscious, this bakery is nevertheless a must-try. The baked goods are definitely hand crafted and much healthier than most of their counterparts in other bakeries around Berkeley. As for students looking for a change of scenery from the usual crowded study spots like Café Milano or Starbucks, I wholeheartedly recommend Cakes and Purls – it is still a hidden gem from those who are gearing up for winter studying sessions.

Flavor of the Month: Pumpkin

As the temperature lowers and I find myself leaving my place with more and more layers of clothing each day, there seems to be one thing that keeps me going this chilly October month: Pumpkin flavored everything! I have spent one too many nights at cafés these past few days with a pumpkin spice latté on one side and a pumpkin dessert on the other—two things that are necessary for consoling me during these long hours of midterm studying. I can literally be having the worst day ever but the moment I catch a whiff of some pumpkin dessert, I get this odd sense of calm and hominess that just makes me so much happier. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one out there who feels this way…anyone?

So today, as a college student on a budget as well as an over worked undergrad in need of a break, I decided to make a stop at Trader Joes and try my hand at some of my favorite treats that feature our flavor of the month—pumpkin! After scouring multiple recipe sites, I found a recipe for a pumpkin spice latté and one for pumpkin bread that caught my interest (courtesy of the kitchn.com and mybakingaddiction.com). I provided the recipe for both below (with a few tweaks) and I must admit, they turned out absolutely amazing. And just in case you think I’m biased, my roommate has nothing but rave reviews for my attempts at these recipes (pictures below). So alas, I conclude by wishing you all a happy baking and don’t forget to spread the love by sharing your delicious concoctions with friends!

Pumpkin Spice Latté

Ingredients: 2 cups milIMG_2666k, 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin puree, 2 tablespoons sugar, ½ tablespoon pumpkin pie spice, 2 tablespoons vanilla extract, ½ cup hot brewed coffee, whipped cream (optional), and 1 cinnamon stick (optional).

Total Time: 10 minutes                                  Serving Size: 1-2

Instructions: In a small saucepan, heat milk, pumpkin and sugar over medium heat until hot (do not boil). Remove from heat and stir in the pumpkin pie spice, the vanilla, and the coffee. Pour into mug and top it off with some whipped cream and a cinnamon stick (if you’re feeling fancy). 

 

Pumpkin bread

Ingredients: 1 (15 ounces) cIMG_2679up pumpkin puree, 4 eggs, 1 cup vegetable oil, 2/3 cup water, 2 cups white sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 3 ½ cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, and 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice.

Total Time: 75 minutes                              Serving Size: 2 loafs

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, whisk pumpkin, eggs, oil, water, vanilla, and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture and blend. Pour batter into two 7×3 inch loaf pans that have been greased and floured. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.