First Ever Iron Chef at Rice

This is a candy centerpiece made by one of the chefs!

Last Thursday was the Iron Man 3 movie premiere, but prior to going to that, I got to attend a related event on campus that day: Iron Chef! This was a competition among the head chefs at each of the six serveries, and gave them the chance to really showcase their skills and creativity. Each team (a head chef and two helping chefs) prepared an assortment of appetizers, desserts, as well as a drink, which were left to the attending students to sample and vote on for best of show. Unfortunately, I arrived a tad late and missed much of their creations, but was able to try a few things thanks to some friends. Nevertheless, based on how amazing everything looked, all of the chefs certainly did a great job! After the appetizers and desserts, the chefs then began with the main event, preparing an entree using the “Mystery basket” of ingredients, which consisted of Texas quail, quail eggs, ground buffalo, purple cauliflower, rice sheets, and guava. One entree featured buffalo-stuffed quail, which I found slightly reminiscent of Epic Meal Time’s stuffed turkey. Of course, all the dishes were outstanding–a few of my friends were positively drooling as they watched the judges sample them. Most of all, it was such a treat getting to see each of the chefs in their element as they crafted their respective entrees. I hope to see them compete again next year!

Hedge-Hopping Downtown

It’s crazy how fast my first year at Rice has flown by! During my year here, I’ve really come to appreciate some of the off-campus perks of being a Rice student. As you may know, the serveries at Rice are closed Saturday nights, giving you the chance to go “over the hedge” for dinner with friends. What makes things even more convenient is your Q-card and Hedge-Hopper card. The former provides free transportation on the Metro light rail, which takes you straight into the heart of Houston Downtown, while the latter gives you a nice discount at restaurants around Rice. On one particular excursion, the restaurant in question was Bombay Pizza. I split 3 of their specialty pizzas with 3 friends. We were impressed with the restaurant’s unique take on an American classic: the pizza crust was crispy naan, and the toppings were distinctly Indian but not overpowering. Thanks to our Hedge-hopper card, we got a whopping 25% off our meal; I recall paying somewhere around $5.60. The deal was further sweetened, literally, when we got 10% off our gelato at the neighboring Bella Coffee & Gelato with our dinner receipts. Afterwards, we rode the Metro light rail back to campus, concluding our very satisfying dinner outing.

Of course, I understand pizza/Indian fusion may not appeal to everyone. Not to worry! There’s a wide variety of participating restaurants to choose from, which range from sushi, tacos, burritos, and noodles to crepes, frozen yogurt, and…haircuts? (not a dessert, but there is actually a discount to a barber shop!) A full list can be found here. Happy hedge-hopping!

A Day in the Field

A cluster of snail eggs

After a week of midterms, I got the chance to spend the following Saturday working with a graduate student on her research! As I have only done bench research before, ecology field research was most certainly a new experience for me—mind you we were actually in the middle of a field about a 20 minutes drive from Rice. Despite the nearly perpetual rain throughout the day, I can still say I thoroughly enjoyed it! From 8:30 in the morning until about 1:00 in the afternoon, we harvested and sorted the plants growing in her circular blue plastic experiment “tubs,” each of which took about an hour to get through. Though demanding, the work was rewarding; I got quite good at identifying, and uprooting, the different plants. I also got to see some interesting creatures—from beetles, lizards, and dragonflies to the fist-sized snails harvested from the tubs. What intrigued me the most was the swathe of coral I spotted on the leaf of one plant in particular. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a cluster of eggs, which the graduate student revealed to have been laid by a single snail! While others may find it gross or trivial, I’ll admit I was astonished, as I for one had never seen snail eggs before, much less those in such nice hue!

Freshman Impressions

So 4 weeks into my first semester here at Rice isn’t long at all, but it is enough time to really start settling into the swing of things–already I’ve taken my first test and first quiz. In addition to my engineering courses, I’m taking my writing seminar this semester. Freshman Writing Intensive Seminars are required semester long courses to help freshman hone their writing skills. There is something for everyone here—from reading graphic novels to the constitution, from learning about public policy to health research. I’m currently in the course “America through French Eyes,” in which we’ve already read Tocqueville and even Tintin! Check out a listing of all of the fall courses here.

Overall, 17 credit hours is a bit tough, but luckily I got into what may be the best LPAP ever…YOGA! Don’t be mistaken, this class is definitely not sedentary (The Art of Relaxation might be though). In fact, our yoga instructor was telling us how in a matter of weeks we’d be just like her, doing handstands like second nature. I am most certainly more than a bit skeptical, and fear that her confidence in me (and in all my fellow yoga trainees) may be misplaced. Nevertheless, I will definitely try my best to meet her lofty expectations. Check back with me in a couple of weeks–I just might be meditating, in handstand position!