photo by Kimberly Verdin

Spring semester at UNLV has ended and summer break has finally arrived. A lot had happened as the semester came to an end. All eyes had been focused on study guides during study week and students felt the pressure from final exams. The school held events to help students relax and clubs ended strong with final events of their own as well. Of course, Epicurean Society ended the semester a bit differently than everyone else.

The final event the Epicurean Society held for everyone was the sale of Fizzy Fruit, or simply carbonated fruit. The sale had been set to happen on April 18 and on April 26. As explained before, Epicurean had teamed up with Greek fraternities Pi Kappa Alpha and Sigma Alpha Mu for an event held by the Greek community at UNLV. I have to say that my favorite carbonated fruits were the raspberries and blueberries, the reason being that they remained carbonated for longer periods of time than the rest of the fruit. There were also blood oranges, green grapes, strawberries and regular oranges.

Not all fruits were carbonated in case customers were feeling a bit less daring. With the weather having been hotter, students were attracted by the prospect of being cooled down with the taste of refreshing and cool fruit. The club had a great turnout of course and any leftovers were used to make fruit smoothies. The club makes a point to not let anything go to waste. It was pretty interesting and amusing seeing the reaction of customers when they received a sample of the carbonated fruit to try. Their reactions mirrored that of members’ first experience during the demo a few weeks back. The progression in reactions consisted of curiosity, then surprise, followed by wonder, and finally excitement from wanting to share the experience. Hopefully, we’ll be able to sell carbonated fruit next year with new additional fruit.

The last event by the Epicurean Society was a dinner arranged by the club’s own Jacob Budisantoso on May 10. This event was more for the club itself, as it was meant to be a gift for members as Jacob will be graduating soon. This means that the club will be losing a very valuable member of the family as he is always helping out and leading the back of the house preparations for events held by the club. I’m really glad I was able to get to know such a wonderful person. The dinner was a 5-course meal achieved with the help other Epicurean Society members such as Kevin Ng, Hannah Min, Clayton Sloan and Austin January.

The first dish of the 5-course dinner held a much more personal meaning. For example, the first dish was an amuse consisting of three different foods. It consisted of spaghetti with black vinegar in the sauce and a mushroom croquette, a shiitake mushroom dumpling and morel and golden raisin relish with potato espuma. This dish symbolized Jacob’s beginning progress in cooking and where it has continued forward. The second course was a salad comprised of a quick pickled daikon, rainier cherries, heirloom cherry tomatoes and green apple slices with a mint. These pieces were placed on top of a macerated cranberry and black vinegar sauce. The third course was a herb coconut sorbet and carrot puree soup served tableside, playing off a butternut squash soup. The fourth course was a Tom Kha Gai mushroom risotto with fried dates and keishi glazed trumpet mushroom. This was covered with cilantro oil and micro cilantro. The fifth and final course was a sort of dessert consisting of fried yucca chips, goat yogurt whip cream and a rolled roasted beet in the center with guava lemon reduction inside. On top of the guava lemon reduction, a torched rosemary was placed on top for aromatic effect.

Preparation for the dinner took 4 days, including the day of the event. I must admit that it was my first time trying such dishes. As I might have mentioned before, I’m a newbie when it comes to the F&B industry and more so in the world of cooking. I never knew such combinations were a possibility. The taste and flavor of each dish were foreign to me so it made for a good learning experience. Everyone had their preferred course dish and mine would be the fifth course since I have a sweet tooth. For the dinner, we even had the pleasure of having Chef Mark Sandoval join us and he provided us with explanations of any ingredients we had questions on. It was like one big family dinner and one I will never forget.

Epicurean members will be spending their summer differently. Some members will be taking summer classes, starting their internships, taking up more hours at their job or maybe just spending their summer with their family. Just like Jacob, there will be other members of the Epicurean Society who will be graduating soon. I know that every single one will be missed and I wish them much luck on whatever may come their way. No one knows what to expect for the upcoming new school year with all the changes being made within the club and at UNLV, but until then, I’ll try to update everyone on the adventures of members during the summer.