Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Fine Dining and the Penn Cohort

When I stepped out of the Civic Center BART station in San Francisco, I began to seriously second-guess my decision to wear a short wool coat instead of a swim parka, Onesie, or similar garment that would have covered my entire body in cloth. The notorious SF winds were unpleasantly chilly as I walked the short blocks to catch a taxi with Clara, her dad, and my mom, but once I was inside I ended up being fine. Our destination was La Folie, chosen venue to host the Ivy League Connection dinner with alumni of UPenn and benefactors of the ILC. Dyana So and Alex Elms, ILC alumns and recent admits to the Penn Class of ’16 were also in attendance; as they are both past ILC participants they were happy to answer questions we might have.

As we arranged ourselves around the two long tables, I was happy to see that I was seated next to David, who will take physics at Penn with me this summer. David goes to Middle College, so I don’t know him as well as I know Clara or Chloe, and I was glad for the opportunity to talk with him. I was also able to get to know Ivette a little better during dinner, as we chatted about our expectations for the program and our different experiences during the interview process.

Mr. Schlein congratulates us and offers some words of wisdom
I also spoke with Louis, a Penn alumn of ’07 now at Stanford for grad school. He was friendly and open about his days at Penn. He also compared his different experiences in college and grad school, saying that Penn had lots of fun, quirky traditions that helped students bond, while Stanford had a stronger sports program that students could rally around.  I especially enjoyed hearing about the Penn tradition where the rising senior class marches through the entire campus to the president’s office wearing Styrofoam hats. After being recognized by the university president as the new senior class, friends take bites out of each other’s hats! Louis also recommended a couple of museums to check out while in Philadelphia, which I hope to do if I have enough time to explore the city.

Mr. Ramsey speaks about the unique opportunity we have been offered as a part of the ILC
Of course, all of these conversations were put on the back burner when the food arrived. Need I say it was amazing? We started off with hors d’ oeuvres like bacon and cheese tarts and artichoke soup. After taking our seats, we moved on to other treats, including delicious eggs flavored with herbs and served in their shells. My first course was a goat cheese tartin, which was beautifully plated in addition to being extremely tasty. The main course was a quail stuffed with squab and wrapped with potatoes, served with roasted vegetables. Although I later heard that it wasn’t what everyone expected, I found it quite satisfactory and was excited to try something new that I hadn’t had before. I feel as though my culinary gamble paid off nicely. Dessert was sumptuous, rich chocolate cake with brandied dried fruit. Although I wasn’t entirely sure that a 16 year old such as myself was supposed to eat the brandy-soaked fruit, I can quite truthfully say as a chocolate lover that the cake was amazing.

Goat cheese is one of my favorite foods, so naturally I had to order this dish
Quail dinner–mmmmmm, yummy
I was so excited to taste my chocolate cake that I didn't manage to get a photo of it before I started eating
Once again, the ILC put on a wonderful event that opened my eyes even more to the wonderful opportunities available to me at Penn. The food was wonderful, if that wasn’t already apparent from my long reminiscence earlier, the company was friendly and inspiring, and I even got home before 11 PM. I call that a success.

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