This last month has been busy for UNLV’s Epicurean Society. Some highlights include a trip to Maison De Maggie to meet with Mr. Bonito Sahagun, a hot chocolate and ponche tasting and a member cookout.

The trip to Maison De Maggie was as informative as it was delicious. I have not had the pleasure of a good crepe since before I left for college. No longer having the pleasure of my parents making breakfast crepes, I was quite excited to go with our group. In Maison De Maggie, each crepe recipe is named after a family member or friend of the owner from her home in France. I ordered a dessert crepe to start with but came back for seconds, with of course, the “Matt” Crepe. Despite my general dislike for mushrooms, I greatly enjoyed their use in said crepe. After we received our food, Mr. Sahagun, a business advisor, spoke to us about the process for starting a business. He pointed out that even a group of college students such as ourselves, who spend what little disposable income that we have on food, could start a small business if we pooled our resources. Despite many of us planning to start our own businesses in the future, I doubt any of us have yet entertained the idea of starting a business while still in school.

Jonah and Jacob, leaders within our culinary education team, did a tasting of the differences in flavor, texture and aroma of hot chocolate made with cocoa from different countries. The varieties of cocoa, a donation from a fellow club member, were distinct from each other in each of those areas. One hot chocolate was prepared with Lindt, a Swiss chocolate. I found the taste desirable but the drink too heavy. I could not picture myself ever enjoying more than a sip or two. However, that might have been because I prefer my hot chocolate with a contrast of senses. The other hot chocolates filled that order. The second type was made of three chocolates from Oaxaca, Puebla and Guadalajara. The end result was a deliciously spicy drink with the burn element from cinnamon, as well as from chiles, while still having a much thinner viscosity than the Lindt’s drink. A palate cleanser was provided: ponche, which I have coined Mexico’s better version of apple cider. It is made from the rinds of bitter apples, pineapple rind and core, orange peels, piloncillo-a very unrefined type of sugar-and a handful of star anise and cinnamon sticks. Similar to the apple cider, it has a “spirited” version replacing the rum with tequila. We enjoyed the non-alcoholic version which was a nice balance of bitter and sweet. It was perfect at cutting through the coating effect of the hot chocolate.

Before our spring break, the club got together to have a membership cook-off. Teams were given some cash and a portion of a meal to prepare: appetizer, entree, or dessert. Our appetizers were prepared by Megan our club President and host of the event and Tessie. One of the appetizers was homemade guacamole and chips to go with the tacos, the other was a crostini with provolone cheese, horseradish cream, roast beef and fresh tomatoes. The primary entree, prepared by Jacob, was beef tongue tacos with the choice of either a homemade verde or chipotle sauce. The tongue was boiled in water and lime alongside spices and onions for 3 hours. He sautéed it and braised the sautéed cubes in the concentrated stock formed from the lime and onion bath from earlier. This was placed on fried corn tortillas, topped with diced onion, shredded cilantro and finally drizzled with sauce. Jonah helped me prepare the accompanying entree, margarita pizza on a cauliflower crust. This was the first time I had ever heard of, let alone made, a cauliflower crust but I have to say it was delicious! I am now considering how I could make it more dense to create a deep dish pizza crust. Perhaps drying out the cauliflower after steaming it by broiling it for a few seconds? For dessert, Kayla and Noel made a bed of roasted nut and cookie crumble topped with warm strawberries, flavored syrup and vanilla ice cream. This was a great bonding activity as well as a chance to give the members a chance to show off their skills in the kitchen.

In the upcoming month UNLV’s Epicurean Society is hosting its first savory sale. We will be preparing a gazpacho trio: one classic tomato, one made of grapes and lastly a watermelon gazpacho, to combat the rising Las Vegas temperatures. I look forward to seeing some of you at this event to help support the wonderful foodies at UNLV.