Basking in the California sunshine

So the past few days I've been visiting California to interview at Stanford and to see some college friends. The weather was amazing, it felt like Boston's spring. The sunshine was warm, there were palm trees, and dusty mountains in the distance everywhere I went. Stanford itself was the most extravagant campus I have ever seen. They really spend a lot of money spoiling their kids lol (maybe me one day?). The sunny happiness of the students being in a country club-like campus and a relaxing curriculum was really infectious. They were literally all smiles, and every student I met couldn't seem to shower the school with enough praise. I have yet to see a school where the students were this much in love with their school (Rochester and Dartmouth are distant seconds).

 

After seeing Stanford, I had time grab dinner with my friend Tony near the school. We walked up and down the main street with restaurants, and finally decided to stop in at a place called University Cafe, which served American food at a moderate price. First came a bread plate with a tomato-based dipping sauce (I couldn't figure out why it was orange, but it was similar to a marinara I guess). The bread itself was too hard on the outside, and a little soggy in the middle, but it still tasted fine because we were both starving lol.

For my entree I got a chicken pot pie with tossed greens on the side. It was the type of pot pie that has a cap of puff pastry on top of the liquid pot pie, and I really like this kind of pot pie because it was the kind that Baker dining used to serve all the time. The pot pie filling itself was delicious, as it was sort of like a cream of mushroom soup, with asparagus, mushrooms, onions, peppers, corn, peas, and chicken chunks. The flavors came together really well, and even though I was starving when I came in, I was definitely satisfied afterwards. The greens on the side were tossed in a vinaigrette that contrasted nicely with the sweet creaminess of the pot pie. It was jazzed up comfort food, and it definitely hit the spot.

Tony wanted to get a 12 oz steak au poivre, but the waiter got confused and gave him a steak salad instead lol. The steak tasted like it was marinated with teriyaki sauce, which I thought was kind of interesting. It came on top of a bed of stir fried vegetables and some salad. Not quite what he wanted, but at least it wasn't a bad replacement heh. (Sorry, pic is a little blurry, I blame Tony because he took it lol).

And for dessert, we went across the street to a Japanese-European fusion bakery called Satura Cakes, where after trying some free samples of a very rich and dense chocolate cake, we decided on sharing a bread pudding together. For the life of me I can't remember right now what type of fruit was in the bread pudding, but I know the dessert itself was a great way to end the meal. It had the spiciness of a pumpkin pie, with the soft-crunchy chunks of fruit like an apple pie, combined with soft bread and a creamy mousse-like filling, all topped with whipped cream. It was light and refreshing, and although it was cold, the flavor of the spices made a warm impression on me. It was a quintessential autumnal dessert, even though autumn has already passed.

The following day for lunch, I went out with Tony and another friend, Linda, for Shanghainese cuisine at an Asian strip mall. The food was amazing, and reminded me of all the Shanghainese dishes that I've eaten growing up. We ordered "jiao bai" (water bamboo) with peppers and pork, "nian gao" (rice ovals) with napa and beef, pork liver in brown sauce, and "xiao long bao" (Shanghai meat buns). Everything was delicious, and the cooking style was light and clean, just like Shanghainese cuisine is great at when it wants to be. When I had this meal, I realized just how sick I was of the greasy, fried food of Cantonese cuisine up in Boston's Chinatown. They're not kidding when they say that Chinese food is better in California (there are so many Asians here!).

And finally, a picture of me and my friend Tony (I'm almost embarrassed to post this because I look so stupid here, but I guess what the heck, it's for the memories right?). I wish I could have stayed a little longer, and done some more "Californian" things heh, but there's always next time!

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