Dunkin’ Donuts Eggnog Latté

Chicken and waffles? Passé. Chicken and donuts? That’s more like it. Add a side of redeye gravy and you’re good to go. I entered donut-fried chicken into a Dunkin’ Donuts contest (of my own, and Dillinger’s volition) today and decided to pick up this hot-off-the-press Eggnog Latté while I was at it. It took twenty minutes to make, not because the talented baristas hand-beat the yolks and ground fresh nutmeg into steeped Arabica coffee beans, but because the cashier was lost or dead in the back freezer. After she cryogenically unfroze and took my money, I had a fresh latté in my hands.DSC_6555 Continue reading “Dunkin’ Donuts Eggnog Latté”

Starbucks Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino

I could never be single. Or for that matter, social in a setting free of appointments and rules. Sitting in a Starbucks, thumbing through a used copy of Carr’s “What Is History?” I am reminded of this fact again and again while watching students mill in and yak to each other over Macbooks and organic breakfast salads. But I haven’t come here to people-watch or ogle. The last Starbucks I frequented had a successful suit against me for that. (Starbucks vs. Foodette, “Please let me touch your macchiato! I want mine super creamed!” Undisclosed out-of-court settlement.) So, at this location I remain, and am sipping the dregs of a drink best forgotten.

The new Starbucks Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino takes a greasy, translucent page from the mystical tomes of Taco Bell, as it combines ingredients and concepts Starbucks has already introduced in a last-ditch attempt to catch on to the quicksilver salted caramel trend before it secedes to a greater force (Mocha. Frappuccino. Salted Caramel. Pretension.) and combines them into one drink. However much I love salted caramel, I really couldn’t get behind this flavor. It was the expensive equivalent of having a few odds and ends leftover in the fridge and mixing them together for a full, yet unpotable concoction.
If you’re not familiar with the grainy, wet texture of the Frap, which somehow manages to feel loose and semi-solid in the mouth all at once, nothing I can say will intrigue you enough to purchase it. It’s a Dairy Queen frozen hot chocolate in nicer packaging and an amicably flavored February slush storm, only more bitter and possibly colder. This particular flavor had 2/5ths of its namesake sitting dumbly on top of the drink, swirled on the surface and chilling into a semi-viscous caramel that tasted fairly average, lacking depth. Standard caramel topping with no burnt or buttery nuances. The kind you put on ice cream. The salt penetrated the deep waters of the drink, giving the bitter mocha an even more bitter, tangy flavor and losing all sweetness in the process.
The last tenth of the drink was different, albeit different in a hellish fashion. The caramel had finally seeped through and mixed in with the rest of the drink, the heavier, sauce-laden section separating the lighter, blended part into layers. All of a sudden, what was unpleasantly neutered in flavor was quickly radiating with sugar. The resulting texture was now slimy and gritty, and lacked any of the smoothness in flavor that I typically expect in a Frappuccino. And while I agree that any drink can be improved with a gut-busting squirt of whipped cream, any additional sugar would have made this virtually inedible. Seeing as I loved the coconut mocha, Frap, which tasted like a liquified Almond Joy, I was surprised that this flavor passed the test market. I’m not sure which candy bar this tastes like. Maybe partially masticated Bit-O-Honey marinated in a jar of lye. This flavor is awkward incarnate, in any case.

Arby’s Jamocha Oreo Shake

As I type this at the highly respectable hour of 3:55 in the morning, I am reminded as to why I really ought to drink coffee at a more polite hour. Last night, we were at a wedding of some dear friends, and I happened to slurp down a gin and tonic and coffee in succession, and then wildly dance to Rihanna and Creedence Clearwater. And now it’s four in the morning and I’m wandering around the house like a zombie, considering pulling an all-nighter but hoping that my own prose will bore me to sleep.

The Jamocha Oreo shake from Arby’s didn’t have this nocturnal affect on my brain, despite the fact that I drank it in the morning as I would my regular cup of joe. Actually, the only symptom of strangeness I had was the mental association the coffee flavor bought me. Arby’s uses very, very cheap coffee in its shakes, which has an adverse effect on how I perceive it to taste. Very, very cheap coffee reminds me of hotel lobbies and convention centers, with a burnt pungency to its nose, but hotel lobbies and convention centers make me think of nice things, like vacations. In this reverse logic, I somehow managed to equate a milkshake from Arby’s with high-quality, non-recession based activities. I drank it over the course of three days.
I’m not sure why I was given a large shake instead of a small, as I requested. It could have been the good graces of the Arby’s gods shining down upon me, rewarding me for driving to Chicopee, or the evil fates of Hellfire’s spawn, condemning my arteries to a destiny more torturous than I’d originally decided to subject them to. Oh well.
The shake was visually appealing, with wide zebra stripes of chocolate fudge running horizontally through the cup. It was one of the first products I’d tried where the real life item resembled the press release. The fudge was a tier better than Hershey’s syrup, too, with a rich viscosity and flavor, providing a strange contrast to the crappy coffee flavor. The Oreo flavor was bolder than I’d originally expected- the shake maker was obviously “on” that day and included chunks of Oreo not only on top, but in a fairly thick bottom layer. The pieces started out crunchy and fresh, and the larger ones were difficult to suck through the straw. With those, I had to strain and suck really hard on it, and with the pressure building up from my lips, the contents eventually exploded all over my mouth. Have you seen this? Have you heard about this? I spent ten minutes cleaning the grey goo off my face.
Strangely enough, the combination of rich chocolate, Oreos that got progressively mushier, and cheap coffee grounds was appealing in its own way. Although I couldn’t enjoy more than a few sips at a time, the shake had a consistency and flavor that I enjoyed. I feel like it’s far better than the shakes from other fast food restaurants, and has a unique and iconic flavor that sets it apart from the standard Neapolitan trio.

Keurig Mini and Brew Over Ice K-Cups

Now that the weather is humid, I sent my non-copyrighted Foodette Signal out into the sky, silently beckoning to companies and humans everywhere to please, assuage this shitty summer heat and help me out. The folks at Keurig heard me and from the sky, down came a Keurig Mini Brewer and an assortment of K-Cups. (I still maintain the opinion that “K-Cup” sounds like an off-brand plus sized version of the Diva Cup, but that’s probably why I’m not in advertising.The Keurig Mini is small, small enough to wedge comfortably in between most of our appliances and has the added bonus of looking like a small robot dinosaur when opened. This effect is only enhanced with the silver paintjob and additional stickers I added to its exterior. So far, I liked it. It came with an instructional booklet with the detail of your average BMW user’s manual. The machine was relatively easy to use, to the point where I simply tossed the booklet (gasp!) and started making a cup of iced tea.I was under the impression that the “brew over ice” function was an attachable piece to add on to the machine, much like a Leatherwood Hi-Lux M30 Red Dot sight or a bicycle horn, but it wasn’t so much of an accessory as it was a concept and repackaged version of what the Keurig had before. The BOI Kups (Haaaaaa!) come in all sorts of flavors. I went ahead and prepared the Southern Sweet Tea. Oddly enough, despite the instructions and press releases that the cups are “specially blended” and proportioned for usage over ice, there is no indicator as to which setting or ideal amount of water I ought to use for them. I know that part of the concept of all-inclusive customization is to be able to freely adjust the amount of water you wish to use, but the formula tends to be somewhat murky as to when that should be lessened for the BOI function.
The water reservoir at the top of the machine is monochromatic with an incomprehensible detachable piece for determining how much water is in the machine. Being used to clear, easy-to-read dials on the side of the Mr. Coffee, I was thrown back by this accessory. It looked like something I’d have used in the Middle Ages as a rain gauge. And as a result of my blind guesswork and lack of inclination to pull out the measuring cups, I ended up with watery iced tea.
With a machine as specialized and focused on variety as this, the fuzzy detail in water measurement isn’t a big deal if you drink coffee every day and have a specific mug that you use. You can easily just measure your water in that and then use it to brew the coffee. With the BOI, it tends to be a different story, as you then have to allocate for the amount of water you want to use, the water you’re going to displace when you add the ice, and then the extra water you’ll add from the ice, melted when the beverage brews. And the most realistic amount for a cup of iced tea, a 12 oz. glass with 4 ice cubes, is too large to fit underneath the dispenser. All smaller cups, like the one shown above, overflowed when I tried to brew with them. What gives? It seems like this isn’t engineered for iced beverages at all. Not only have I still not found the ratio I desire in a cold drink, I’m now relegated to the couch at night because I keep mumbling about BOIs in my sleep.There is a silver lining to every Keurig, though. Keepitcoming Love, who was initially sworn against the Keurig, has found it immensely simple to use and appreciates the varied gear they sell to mix up your morning cup of joe. As for me, I’m going to have to keep tinkering with it to reach my ideal.Special thanks to the folks at Keurig’s PR team for hooking me up with this gadget! They didn’t pay me to write this, but I might have propositioned one or more of their coffee machines one drunken night. It’s okay, the machines aren’t on payroll.

Lindt Ice Coffee Bar

One time, and keep in mind, this was about three weeks back, we did not have an air conditioner. We were hot and sweaty and irritable, had no interest in the fetid refuse of a community pool, and needed to cool down.

We improvised quite well, I’d say, and after ten minutes filling the tub, setting the fan up, and getting Parks and Rec on the laptop, we were in business. It was better than a pool. We could adjust the temperature and drink iced coffees, and there were no children sporadically urinating. It was that kind of cooling down and refreshing summer feeling that I was looking for when I picked up this bar, one that Lindt calls a summertime treat, and split it with Keepitcoming.This bar was not evocative of a fresh iced coffee. While it was good, with high-quality white chocolate and an ample amount of filling, the overall effect was just too sweet. Comparing it to the iced coffee we made, this was a rather paltry substitute. The bar consisted of a coffee creme filling with coffee bean pieces, all covered in white chocolate. That was the first mistake. The white chocolate, which was perfect in the Vosges bar because of the balance of sweet and zesty, had nothing to balance it out and was overwhelmingly sugary, like my middle school guidance counselor.The coffee filling was a noble concept. It’s nice to try to make something that emulates a classic summer drink, but it just falls short. The creme was less of a whipped, ice cream texture than a hydrogenated, sugary, slightly greasy mouthfeel, and that was pretty off-putting. The coffee bean bits were the most welcome flavor and textural difference, allotting a good, bitter roast to seep onto the tongue. Unfortunately, these bits were far and few between, the only remote hint of any coffee flavor resting in this bar. It was as satisfying as waiting a half hour for a watered down Frappucino, and around the same price. I’d rather have an iced coffee and my improvised pool.

Milk Coffee Kit Kat

In every relationship, there’s always a hierarchy between partners, an age-old fact that presents itself with the dawn of each day. This has recently come up in my own partnership, and has led me to question all that I know in my day-to-day happenings.

And still, the fact of the matter remains- Keepitcoming Love makes the best morning coffee. I make delicious eggs. Case closed.

It’s just how it’s always gone. We’ll both do breakfast or I’ll slip down and whip something up, and she makes the coffee. But sometimes, we’ll be sitting in our robes on the chaise lounge, listening to The Zombies on Pandora, and I’ll come bounding up like a puppy saying, “Surprise! I made coffee!”, and we’ll both take a sip and simultaneously wince.

“Did you use the coffee spoon?”
“Yeah.”
“Did you use the right ratio?”
“Oh, totally.”
“Really?”
“I might have done a little improvising here and there, but it’s okay, right?”

She’ll take a few sips. I’ll shrug and say something about how nice the weather is and inconspicuously try to mix sriracha into the coffee. It fixes everything, right? And halfway to a terrible, watery grave, we’ll look at each other and say, “This coffee is pretty bad.” She’ll stroke my head and tell me I’ll learn- someday. I’ll sigh. And she’ll pad back to make another pot of coffee. And that’s one of many reasons why I love her.

It’s how it’s always gone. As much as I’d like to wake up earlier than she does and bring her coffee in bed, it’s just not a skill I’ve cultivated yet. Until now. Now, I can bring her this new finding, the milk coffee Kit Kat bar from the Asian grocery, and essentially emulate the idea of coffee in a single serving of a candy bar.Originally, I was convinced this was a tea-flavored Kit Kat, because the package had photographs of cherry blossoms and a cup of something tea colored, so I naturally assumed it was. Not so. When I bit into this bar, I got an intense, dark rush of coffee, like eating a chocolate covered coffee bean. If it weren’t for the white chocolate around it, I’d have been turned off to the flavor, as without the extra sugar, it is quite bitter. I’m not sure if the white chocolate is supposed to imitate the milk addition to a cup of coffee, but it certainly sweetens it up and cuts the bitterness.I was surprised at how much I liked this bar, because I’m more inclined towards chocolates with caramel and peanut butter flavors in it, so this was an entirely foreign experience. The size of the bar, a miniature Kit Kat, was perfect. Any larger would have been overkill. The wafers in this were crisp and airy, and gave a nice textural depth to the candy. All in all, it provided an accurate coffee experience that I’d be glad to serve Keepitcoming in lieu of my strange brew.

Starbucks Bacon and Gouda Artisan Breakfast Sandwich

Starbucks has done it again, rolling out some new sandwiches for breakfast or an early lunch. I went today with my friend, Fantastic, after a book signing with Temple Grandin and grabbed one!

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much, but in a pinch, my stomach will accept anything. And I was pleasantly surprised when I was handed a molten hot, toasty, and slightly buttery ciabatta roll with the egg, bacon and cheese peeking out of the side. Without even tasting it, Starbucks was ahead of Subway in making their hot sandwiches somewhere above tepid without charring the bread.It smelled really great- bakery fresh, and the ciabatta delivered like Jim Morrison on his first and last appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show- hot, fresh, and it made me (almost) high with that amazing, just baked smell. It was crispy on top and had a wonderfully sour tang to it, but not so much that it overpowered anything else, and it was entirely soft with no crunchy end bits. The whole breadtangle is a 5 x 5 square, and I bet you could make some awesome pixellated art out of them if Starbucks offered a multi-grain ciabatta, but I was here to work, kids, not to play.

The fillings were sublime. The bacon was plentiful- like, at least 3/4 slice’s worth per square inch, so about four slices on the whole thing, enough to get a good mouthful in a bite, and the Gouda was a brilliant move. It was very gooey and very aromatic within the sandwich and made delicious, cheesy strands when I took a bite. I think the “parmesan frittata” is a little self-aggrandizing, Starbucks. I mean, really? Frittata? It’s a scrambled egg square. We all had it in middle school. Still, though, it was better than any scrambled eggttata I’ve ever had from a national chain, plopped down in that generic circular shape. It was fluffy and integrated the parmesan really well.

I want another one. And you know what that means. Yes, Starbucks, you’ve done something right.

Oh, and that on the right is my own personal creation- my signature Grande iced Chai with chocolate syrup. What do you like to drink at Starbucks?

Asian EXTRAVAGANZA! Part 1: Drinks

Okay, so a little background. My friend Swagger and I went out yesterday on a delightful quest for an Ocean State Job Lot, which turned into a huge adventure finding and retrieving items from an Asian Grocery.

We got some beverages first, for review. I’ll be doing it all in part by cuisine. We found dollar store beverages and Asian things to show you today.

First up was the Wang Dream aloe juice. After giggling profusely at the funny name, we took a sip. The texture is very strange. It’s a very thick juice, and the texture is only comparable to drinking melted Jell-O. At first taste, it tasted like apple-scented shampoo would taste like. On the second round, it developed a muscat-like taste, and the little beads of aloe tasted much better. It was, in all, a really refreshing drink and not horrible for costing $1.70. The texture is a little off-putting, though. I kept expecting it to develop a skin on top, like its Jell-o imitation.

5/10- OKAY

We also found a treat I’d been dying to try, but hadn’t really wanted to order online: soda for weeaboos, AKA ramune. The ramune was immensely fun to open, like a grenade launcher, and I felt a real sense of accomplishment when I got the marble down and the soda tried to explode all over my hands.

Unfortunately, the taste was really disappointing. We had the choice of original, melon, Hawaiian blue, and strawberry, and chose strawberry. Swagger said the Japanese don’t like things too sweet, and it was evident in the taste. If anything, the ramune tasted like watery and minimally flavored seltzer. If that was strawberry flavored, plain must be really gross. A huge disappointment, even if the packaging was awesome. We loved the Engrish on the label, too. “Enjoy pop soda!”

4/10- DISAPPOINTING

That was it for the Asian beverages, as we’d already stocked up on discounted sodas at an Aldi and Ocean State Job Lot before. Onto the discounted stuff. We bought two sodas from a company called “Snow,” advertising crisp, minty beverages, and one ominously nomikered Java Pop.

The “Icy Green Tea- Light” Snow pop thing was nothing special in the way of bottle mechanics, like the ramune, and it was encouraged to serve “ice cold”. Okay. So we put our ice batons and waited. We took a sip.

The smell was intense, like we’d just sauntered into a Colgate factory on a hot day. It looked like beer, and tasted like sparkling Listerine. There was no green tea flavor at all. We now understand why these were three for a buck. They were loaded with sugar, 35 grams a bottle, but had no sugary or sweet taste to speak of, and were horrible. We spat them out and dumped the remainder of the soda in the yard.

0/10- INEDIBLE

Okay, so after that astronomical failure, we popped open the Whiteout Peach flavor. Not looking good so far, Swagger said. So we opened it, poured it into our glasses with ice batons, and waited. Took a sip. Again, we hated it. Just spitting out the drink made me feel much better.

I don’t know what was wrong with these two beverages, aside from the glaringly obvious fact that we bought them from a dollar store. But the Whiteout peach was exactly the same. There was no peach taste to find, it smelled like toothpaste, and was sugary on the label, but had no sugar to be found. These just sucked, completely.

0/10- INEDIBLE

I’m not proud to do it, but I have to give the Snow Pops my first zeroes. We spit them out. They were horrific.

Last up was the ever-intriguing Java Pop, in vanilla flavor. It boasted being all organic, all seeing, all knowing, with pure sugar cane.

We opened it and poured it into the bottle. It had a sickly sweet flavor of sugar and vanilla, like snorting powdered sugar. Upon trying it, we smacked our lips a little, probably trying to see if they stuck together. It did taste like vanilla coffee, that was accurate. In fact, if you condensed it, it would probably taste even better sans bubbles. But this combination was just gross. Soda and coffee is really disgusting. And the sugar this one had almost negated the fact that it was organic. Just disappointing.

1/10- GROSS