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Food and Dining

The Ocho: Apartment Dinner Party Locale


One Sunday morning, I was looking for a brunch place on Yelp when I stumbled across what seemed like a new, highly rated restaurant called The Ocho. Intrigued, I read the reviews, excited that something passably edible had finally come to Westwood. Instead, I found a mock “restaurant” run by Sunny Singh, the Bruins United presidential candidate from 2014 and a fourth-year history and economics student, in conjunction with his roommates. After some back and forth, I visited Singh and his friends/roommates, fourth-year psychology student Michael Ruder and fourth-year sociology student Patrick Cody-Carrese, after the end of one of their regular dinner parties on a Monday evening.

Though none of the trio plan to pursue cooking full-time after graduation this quarter, they still plan to keep the spirit of The Ocho alive by continuing to throw dinner parties in their post-college lives.

If you want to create your own Ocho-style experience, keep a few things in mind:

  • Be collaborative in the kitchen. There’s no need to put all the pressure on yourself as the gracious host and chef.

“We’re very competitive with our dishes and sometimes we make recommendations, like adding a little less salt, but all in all we want to see each other improve and make the best dish possible.”  – Cody-Carrese

  • Be creative in the kitchen and don’t just follow recipes from online.

“We always try to keep it different. We never serve the same dish twice.” – Cody-Carrese

  • The most important thing is the people you’re breaking bread with.

“It’s always great to be able to spend time with friends, to partake in a meal together. It’s like Thanksgiving every time (we host The Ocho).” – Singh

“I think the main ingredient in any delicious dinner party is the people. You gotta have the right people coming in order to make a good dinner party.” – Ruder

“Share your stories like you share your food” – Cody-Carrese

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Office Hours

9 Questions You Should Ask Your Potential Roommates (But Won’t)

It’s that part of winter quarter again: time to figure out housing. This is the time when your crippling loneliness and social ineptitude is magnified by the need to figure out your roommates for next school year.

We all know the drill when it comes to screening roommates, whether they be current friends or acquaintances, but can you really ask them what you want to know if you’re going to live together? Here are nine questions you probably won’t ask your potential roommates it wouldn’t hurt, though, to ask their current roommates about them.

1. How often am I going to get sexiled? No, really. How often?

The age-old problem of “sexile”, or sex exile, is something that many of us have to face. Do they have a long-distance significant other, or are they the type to bring someone home after Thursday night at 2 a.m. (when you have an 8 a.m. on Friday)? Consider the amount of sleep, how much you like your potential roommate and if you plan on doing a bit of “sexiling” yourself.

2. What is your tolerance for a pile of really gross and/or moldy dishes? How about if it’s my midterms week?

For those making the move to the apartments or simply moving from one apartment to the next, dirty dishes are an important aspect of cleanliness. They attract flies, may grow mold and build up quickly. Make sure you and your potential roomie are on the same page when it comes to cleaning priorities, especially under the stress of midterms.

3. Nighttime flatulence and/or snoring. What can I expect?

It’s an awkward question no one wants to ask, but given that we’re all human beings who produce methane gas and strange noises, it’s a valid concern.

4. Are you the leader of a new on-campus club without a place to hold meetings?

Maybe your potential roommate is some visionary with an idea, but hasn’t had the foresight to book a room in Ackerman or elsewhere for their weekly meetings. If that’s the case, you should get used to them and 20-plus other people holding court in your living room while you’re trying to study.

5. If at some point I puke on myself or our furniture, are you going to get all holier-than-thou?

For those of us too far removed from our AlcoholEdu days to remember how to pace our drinks, there may come a time when you experience an untimely reversal of fortune. An understanding, or at least tolerant, roommate would be ideal if you would bet money on you having a post-alcohol fit of vomiting in the 2015-2016 academic year.

6. If we share a tandem parking space, how often can I expect to get my car out?

Tandem parking spaces are the only way we can fit all our cars into the North Village apartment area. Unfortunately, they’re also a total pain. If you’re looking into bringing your car on campus, make sure you find someone reliable and reasonable when it comes to sharing, or at least someone you’re comfortable with screaming at when you’re late for your internship and need to get your car out.

7. How forgetful are you when it comes to your financial deadlines?

If you have flaky roommates, keep yourself open to the possibility of being the monthly rent and utilities nag. Or maybe that’s you, who knows? If that’s the case, be ready to be hounded by your more responsible roommate come the end of the month.

8. How often do you plan to throw parties and/or hold get-togethers?

Whether the definition of “party” includes 10 or 50 people, it’s nice to know if you and your roommate are on the same page about how many parties you plan to throw and the exact parameters of that.

9.  Are you going to steal my milk, or are you going to steal my milk?

Self-explanatory.

 

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How-to

Apartment Hacks: A Guide to Saving Money and Time

It’s week six now. If this is your first year in your new apartment, you’ve had at least two monthly rent due dates pass, as well as the majority of your midterms. On top of this, you’ve had to do all the other things you’ve always had to do: homework, reading, extracurricular activities, volunteering, hanging out with friends and most importantly, watching Netflix. There’s also the very real possibility you don’t even have a couch yet.

Apartment life is harsh. It can be cruel. The relentless churn of monthly bills and rent payments, the never-ending mess (made worse by your messy roommate’s existence), the relative social isolation compared to the Hill. What’s an apartment-dweller to do? Here at Mojo, we understand your struggle. Money is tight. Extra time is nonexistent. Here is a handy-dandy guide with some apartment hacks to make your life a little easier.

Groceries and other basic purchases

  • Check out the Smart & Final weekly circular. It offers deals on basic groceries such as meat and produce.
  • Invest in a Costco membership card, either by yourself or with your friends and roommates, assuming at least one person has a car. Costco is great for bulk items like paper towels, toilet paper and groceries you use a lot of. (Emphasis is on “a lot.”)
  • Use Google Shopping Express. (It only offers dry goods; no fresh dairy, meat or produce.) There is a three-month trial with free delivery, and it generally delivers to your door within about 24 hours. This is especially efficient for heavier things, such as bags of rice or flour – both a time- and money-saver. Google Shopping Express offers many different items from different stores, including Costco and Smart & Final. It’s also useful for other items, though its selection may be limited.
  • If you only want to stay in Westwood and shop at Trader Joe’s, Ralphs or Target, be sure to keep a general idea of where to go between the three stores for specific items at their cheapest price. In other works, check and compare prices between Trader Joe’s, Ralphs and Target because these stores are so close to each other! Trader Joe’s, for example, has cheaper bags of lemons than Ralphs – last time I checked, Trader Joe’s had a pound of lemons for a dollar and cents and Ralph’s was selling lemons for $4. Pro tip: Go with some friends who also need to do some grocery shopping and just split it up. Once you have a general idea of what’s cheapest where, you’ll always know you’ll be saving the most money on what you need. 
  • If you’re looking for specialty or ethnic foods, Ralphs is almost always a rip-off. Try looking for stores further away or online to get your box of Japanese curry, kimchi or whatever. Nijiya Market on Sawtelle Boulevard is much cheaper for curry boxes, for example, and Korean red chili paste can be bought off Amazon.
  • Make a monthly grocery budget. Save your receipts for a month and figure out how much you’re spending on groceries so you can figure out what’s necessary and what you can do without. You’ll be amazed by the final number.

Cooking

  • Make an off-day a “bulk cooking” day. Whenever you have an uninterrupted two hours, make bulk foods like stir-fry and pasta salads so you can survive the rest of your busy week/month/life (until it runs out, I guess). You can also experiment with freezing bulk portions of foods, so buying freezer bags or Tupperware is a great add-on to this bulk-cooking technique.
  • Separate frozen meats into single portions, cut onions and other vegetables in bulk and refrigerate ahead of time. This speaks to the usual evening when you’re exhausted but still need to cook dinner, and you haven’t even defrosted your chicken breasts that are stuck in a hunk of other chicken breasts.
  • Cook “one-pot dinners” or similar dish-efficient meals. Plenty of recipes online are targeted at busy people who don’t like cooking food that results in 1,093,230,982 dirty dishes, not counting the final plate and silverware you’re eating off. Try making these, and figure out the best way to minimize the dishes you need to do.

Cleaning

  • If you live with other people (which you most likely do), you’ve probably figured out an efficient way to delegate cleaning responsibilities to everyone. While cleaning may be a drag, figure out the best, quickest way to complete your chores. Once you do that, buy appropriate cleaning supplies in bulk, and your chores will be a lot quicker and easier.
  • Invest in all-purpose cleaning supplies to cut down on the number of cleaning supplies you need to buy. This can range from Lysol wipes to general all-purpose cleaner. You can also make your own, for a variety of purposes. (Hint: This involves a lot of baking soda and vinegar – a good idea to buy in bulk from Costco.)
  • If you have a cleaning schedule that changes weekly or biweekly, try to negotiate with your roommates to have your midterm/heavy weeks off cleaning. A little bit of coordination and organization can go a long way, and it prevents your apartment from going entirely to the dogs.
  • Keep emergency cleaning supplies on hand. In other words, have a game plan for apartment cleaning emergencies, such as:
    - Your drunk friend vomits all over everything after you throw a party
    - Major spills on carpet or furniture, of any type (wine, food, etc.)
    - Other major disasters
    A lot can be fixed with around-the-house products, but you may need to invest in some heavy-duty cleaner to keep around for those disaster situations.

General

  • Keep a list of numbers for plumbers and repairmen on hand for all those things your lease doesn’t cover or your apartment manager refuses to fix.
  • Set reminders on your phone for bills and rent payments, even if your roommates are in charge of those.

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