It was a farewell dinner today. The beginning of the end. Crazy to think in less than a week I’ll be back in Denver and this entire country hopping adventure will be completely over.
Justin and I went to the Balmoral Hotel. As a birthday gift I’d received a gift certificate for their restaurant, and there really wouldn’t have been any better way to use it than taking my best lad out for dinner.
The Balmoral’s restaurant is legitimately called “Number One”. And it’s frequently regarded as the best restaurant in Edinburgh (if not the best in Scotland). It has a Michelin Star, a tasting menu, and basically everything I’ve come to love about fine dining.
So let’s talk menu. The amuse bouche’s were a tasty pastry cup fish mousse, roe deer raw, and the most delicious “truffle bomb” a rice shell filled with truffly goodness.
Course one was an oyster from nearby.
Followed by my first time eating foie gras, with a delicious licorice bread (that really just tasted like gingerbread but was black)
Then was a scallop kedigree which is really just a fancy way of saying seared scallop on potatoes.
We continued with North Sea cod, served with surprisingly delightful chanterelle mushrooms and crispy chicken skin.
Continuing on, the main course was roe deer, chervil root, and pear. This was a delightfully tender and game-flavor-free cut of meat.
After this it was on to the cheese course, where we had an interesting mix of French and Scottish cheeses, served with truffled honey.
Finally, dessert of a sea buckthorn sherbet served with carrot puree and browned butter crust. Sea buckthorn apparently tastes like tangerine.
But wait! There’s more! Last up was a bramble sherbet soufflé with apple pie ice cream.
And we got some post-dinner sweets to go along with it. A nice bit of tablet and a pineapple candy.
My favorite? Strongly the last course, the soufflé. It was by far the most technically perfect baked dish I’d ever consumed. And the flavors balanced and played with each other unlike any dessert I’ve had. This meal was a stark contrast to the Michelin street food I had in Singapore, and a similar contrast to Providence in LA. This menu was united around the theme of Scotland at the holidays. Not the general theme of seafood. Or the singular dish of the hawker stalls in Singapore. And it was a perfect goodbye meal.
Starting college can be a big transition. You’re moving to a new place, starting a new school and classes, and faced with making new friends in an unfamiliar environment. And, of course, there’s that whole “becoming an adult” thing. But, you’re also leaving a lot behind. Every new beginning means that an old chapter must come to an end. Leaving behind our friends at home may seem difficult, especially if they’re going to be a long distance away from you during the school year. Something I made sure to do was to spend a lot of time with them during the summer after high school. Of course, going to college doesn’t mean you’ll never see your friends again, or that you will no longer be friends with them. Good friendships will last if you put effort into them. It may seem hard initially. Coming into Caltech, it’s a sharp adjustment and many are caught up in the excitement of Orientation, Rotation, and starting classes. It may be hard to remember to check your phone frequently and to make time for phone calls and such. Rest assured that if you have other friends going to college, they’re probably going to go through similar things you will. In this transition period, it can feel like you’re going to immediately lose touch with people that mean a lot to you.
Let’s face it: the US loves being just a little different from everyone else. The obvious example? Units of measurement. As an international student from Canada, even I have no clue what’s going on half the time when my friends talk to me and use these weird nonsensical units. And I’ve literally lived on the border between Canada and the States for all my life. After a year here, I’ve finally got a sense of how the two systems of measurement compare and how you can more easily get your bearings with these weird units.
After a year spent in “soft-lockdown” at home in Atlanta, and as Caltech students prepared to finally return to campus, I was aboard an eight hour flight towards Edinburgh, Scotland. Since my junior year plans were interrupted by the virus who shall not be named, I’m spending my first term of senior year studying abroad through the Caltech - Edinburgh University International Exchange program. I’ve only been here just over a week yet have been exposed to so many new people, perspectives, foods, and classes.
When the announcement was first made that fall term was going to be online, I started talking to friends and looking for places to live. We were debating locations around the country: California, Florida, New York, etc.. there were plenty of options. Then it suddenly hit me, what is stopping us from going to Hawaii, covid numbers were better and a two week quarentine would ensure that numbers stayed down… I proposed this to my friend and we agreed it would be an amazing experience, but we didn’t want to get out hopes up. A month or so later we still haven’t decided where to live, Hawaii seemed too far and too difficult to plan. But we couldn’t get the idea out of our heads. We spent some time looking into plane tickets, places to stay, etc… and it actually didn’t seem so impossible after all. A couple weeks later and we were arriving here on the big island!