Starbucks Winter 2009 offerings

Tazo Tea Lattes

London Fog: Very good; very sweet. First time I had this, I didn’t take the Earl Grey tea bag out, and by the end of a Grande, I was sick of the taste of Bergamot. Take the tea bag out before drinking.

Vanilla Rooibos: Even better; also very sweet. Floral tea doesn’t overpower the drink. The Starbucks employees tend to pronounce rooibos like it was French: roo-bee. Apparently, it’s Dutch (Afrikaans more accurately) for red bush and pronounced roy-bosh (very soft sh, close to ss). Still, I like ordering a Vanilla Ruby more than a Roybush.

Black Tea: Apparently, when I had tea with milk and sugar as a kid, I was drinking a Black Tea Latte. Who knew? My grandparents were very ahead of the curve.

Cupcakes

Double Chocolate: Way, way too sweet. The cupcake tastes like it’s made with artificial sweetener. The icing tastes like sugar with a chocolate liquor aftertaste. Not particularly chocolate-y.

Red Velvet: Excellent sour-cream-y tasting icing. Red sprinkles that launch off the cupcake and into clothing with every bite. The cupcake is kind of chocolate-y, but is that a fruity, almost cherry-undertone? Red Velvet is not supposed to taste like cherry, or any fruit. Black Forest is chocolate and cherry. Red Velvet is just red Devil’s Food.

Vanilla Bean: Sorry, I don’t buy vanilla cupcakes. I don’t order vanilla ice cream, either. It’s a hang-up I have. I’m all like, why didn’t you finish making this dessert? Isn’t there supposed to be something else in there? Vanilla? Really? It’s like ordering tea and getting a cup of hot water. Oddly, I love a vanilla soda and vanilla yogurt. Anyway, vanilla cupcakes are too boring for me to order. Get it yourself.

Tazo Fruit Infused Teas

Berry and Apple: My sister-in-law tried the Apple and said it was intense. She had to water it down. I won’t get the Apple, but I will probably try the Berry iced. Even if it’s too sweet, the ice will help water it down. Going to wait until the local temperatures around here average a bit higher than 20 degrees, though.

Food Review: Trader Joe’s Spring Onion Rice Noodle Soup Bowl

Trader Joes Spring Onion Rice Noodle Soup BowlAt a recent visit to Trader Joe’s, I purchased a Spring Onion Rice Noodle Soup Bowl. The packaging made it look like a step up from typical dried brick-style Ramen noodles. (Always note the words “Serving Suggestion” on packaging. There are no peas, corn, carrot shavings, baby corn, or basil leaves in the soup.) These soups come in their own bowl, which makes it easier to make (no dirty pots), and adds significantly to the waste. While one can conceivably keep the plastic bowl, there is a cardboard outer-package, the bowl is wrapped in plastic, there are three plastic-wrapped flavor-packets within the bowl, and these are wrapped in a larger plastic wrapper. Cardboard can usually be recycled, but my town does not want cardboard from food containers. The plastic bowl is numbered 5, which my town does not recycle, and it doesn’t come with a lid, which makes it usefulness, after using it for the soup, limited. But enough of the waste. How does it taste? Pretty good. Sweet for a soup. Peppery, too, which gives it a bit of zing. The noodles, despite what it looks like on packaging, are not long noodles. This soup must be eaten with a spoon. Those that like to ruin Ramen noodles by breaking up the brick will appreciate the length of these noodles; I, however, do not. One problem with rice noodles is that they continue to suck up any liquid long after cooking. The instructions indicate that soup can be microwaved or cooked by adding boiling water. Either case, it takes about 3 minutes. That’s fast soup. But as the soup cools, the noodles increase in width until it’s hard to find any free liquid. The noodles never become too spongy in texture, though. A clear benefit of this soup over Ramen noodles is the amount of fat. Like Ramen noodles, one package is two servings. Also like Ramen noodles, eating half of it is a joke. It does not keep well. But the entire package of Spring Onion Rice Noodle Soup Bowl is only 4g of fat (2g saturated), where a typical package of Ramen noodles is 14g of fat (7g saturated). It’s not much better sodium-wise, however: 1250mg vs 1600mg. Pre-packaged food rarely stacks up in this case. But I often add other flavorings to Ramen noodles, and I don’t have to with this one, so I’m still better off since I’m not adding more salt. Finally, the other major difference is price. Ramen noodles can be found for little more that a dime per package. This bowl was 99¢. Not that big of a deal, but still, 900% more expensive. It would have been tough justifying this extravagance in college.