Coffee Bean’s Lemon Meringue Tart

One of the other festive treats that I wanted to try from Coffee Bean was their Lemon Meringue Tart. I have a soft spot for lemon (curd) tarts, because of the expected tangy/zesty taste from the citrus fruit. However, there have been several disappointments because in some places, the curd turned out to be more sweet than tangy/sour. The only one I can remember of recent tries that I liked was from ABC.

I asked the staff before ordering, if this item was more sweet or sour and they told me it was sour. I took a leap of faith to believe their words and ordered it, even though I didn’t particularly fancy meringue, which thankfully was just a small strip adorning the top of the tart. I wouldn’t exactly say that this is a winner, for the simple reason that this, like many others, are mass-produced and the tart base has already been exposed for too long to make it a little ‘stale’? It doesn’t have the nice fragrance that we expect buttery tart bases to be, and because this is served up cold (I don’t think anyone would warm it up for me), there really wasn’t any ‘bursts’ of excitement from it. The curd filling, on its own, was actually sweet, as I felt. Because the tart isn’t fresh anymore, when you cut through it, it just falls apart into its individual parts, i.e. the tart base would separate from the curd nicely. And you could even just remove the strip of meringue on top. The strawberry, or whatever there was of it, was just dry and nothing more. Ok, what did I expect, right?

Anyway, when I tasted the curd, I immediately felt let down, because I had believed the staff and ordered it! But to be honest, when I paired it with the tart base, it actually did somehow take on a more tangy taste, which is quite weird because the base should be more sweet and the sour should be coming from the curd right? Or maybe it was just a figment of my own imagination.
Anyway, it isn’t a total let down, but nothing spectacular either, at S$5.80 per pop, which doesn’t fill up much of my stomach but makes for a decent sized tea/coffee-break item. It does look pretty though. Next up, if I am game enough to try more festive items, I think I would just go with the log-cakes, those should be hard to go wrong, unless of course if they skew more towards the high end of the sweet barometer.

More Merry Bites from Starbucks!

Moving right along to lighter and happier posts, I continue my eating ‘trek’ of festive treats from the cafes. I am that limited when it comes to cafe-food, because I am too lazy to venture to new cafes, which explains why most of my food posts are from repeat places. Hmm. Something to chew on, perhaps?

Met up with a friend sometime back because I had a sweets craving. It is not atypical for such a craving to occur, just that usually I follow my meals immediately with something sweet, but in this case I combined both the meal and dessert, so there you have it – a sweet treat and a savoury for the meal.Presenting more of Starbucks’ Merry Bites – the Sticky Ginger Date Pudding, and the Triple Turkey Pie.

Starbucks describes the pie as a “hearty pie that’s filled with a trio of turkey – ham, bacon and smoked; a cherished Christmas staple”. I guess turkey has always been associated with Christmas, at least to me, and the same goes for cranberries, though the latter I have no idea why. Maybe it is because of its colour and how when it’s used in food/drinks it adds to the festive cheer? The pie in its full, glazed, glory.
And the cross-sectional view of its inside. I don’t think I would have known that it’s a turkey pie, not that I know what to expect of the taste of turkey ham, smoked turkey or bacon, because it doesn’t have a very distinctive taste. However, it does remind me of a typical chicken pie complete with vegetables and potatoes; the filling feels a little like a curry puff’s filling without the spiciness. But overall, it’s not bad because I was told on a separate occasion by a Starbucks partner that the Salmon pie/quiche may be a bit salty so I decided not to pick that. The crust was fairly light and flaky, and it’s good to eat it quickly while still warm so that it still retains some crisp.

As for the pudding, its description was that of a “sweet union of candied ginger and dates, complete with caramel and white chocolate drizzle. Christmas on a plate.” as per Starbucks.
I found this a little sweet though, whether it’s the gingery paste atop the cake, or the molten insides. However, the fact that there is a hint of ginger taste kind of balances out the sweetness of this dessert. It might have been too much to finish on my own so it’s definitely good for sharing! Like I have always qualified that I have a ‘calibrated sweet tooth’, even though I admit to the sweet tooth, the threshold isn’t that high or it really depends on the particular item in question. These two choices were generally OK, neither hits or misses; last year’s Christmas menu had more interesting items to pick from, like the spicy puff pie that really felt like a giant spicy curry puff!

Coffee Bean’s Almond Pistachio Danish… 

I’m quite stoked that Christmas is coming soon. Yet at the same time, I’m aware of the fleeting nature of this festive season. It doesn’t stay long enough, or as long as I would have liked it to be. Year after year, it’s the same anticipation, and hoping that it would not end, then the cycle repeats.

Following from my last post on Christmas food items at the cafes, there was also something from Coffee Bean’s festive menu that I had wanted to check out, one of which was the Pistachio Almond Danish. I do find Danish pastries a little on the sweet side usually, but this one looked fairly safe and fluffy, from its cross-section, so I ordered it one of those days when I popped in for breakfast (that I thought would be quite light). Well, it wasn’t that heavy to be very honest, even though it’s supposedly a brioche. And I think it wasn’t laced with too much sugar to make it sweet like I imagined too. However, the thing that made this item a “miss” was another taste that overwhelmed everything else. Maybe that was why I didn’t think it was too sweet or buttery. The Danish had an air of stale oil when I bit into it, especially the inside. It was like as if the item had been standing for too long and whatever oil used that was trapped within had turned a little rancid. I thought it was my imagination and actually ate about half of it, but each bite confirmed the taste. The outer crust did not have that offending taste/smell, probably because of the benefit of being exposed and not having the oil trapped inside, but it was overall a disappointing choice. Typically, where pastries are concerned, I don’t waste much of them, except for overly-generous creams and stuff that are piled on top of cakes, but I just couldn’t make myself finish the Danish somewhat.There are other Christmas items on Coffee Bean’s festive offerings, but I had already tried their fruit cake last year, which wasn’t too bad. There is also a Lemon Meringue tart, which looks rather interesting but I’m now worried that it might be too sweet, knowing as to how it’s a meringue. Probably I won’t go so wrong with the log-cakes or stollen, but then you never know.

Starbucks Christmas 2015 Muffin

The season is here again! Since October I have already been looking forward to Christmas… or rather the whole year I have been looking forward to Christmas. It isn’t just the festive vibes that I anticipate, but the cool weather too. Despite that I am not such a big fan of the rainy season sometimes, especially when I am outside and have to get my feet or shoes wet. Rain in Singapore can be quite a horrible experience because of the thunderstorms and heavy downpours that make being out in the rain a ‘get-drenched’ affair, even with an umbrella. Yes, I think we will need a golf umbrella, a raincoat/poncho (heavy duty type) and Wellingtons, in order to stay dry.

So… I have digressed. This is the season when cafes start coming out with their festive menu, whether food or beverages. Since Starbucks is one of my usual joints, even if they don’t serve exceptionally good coffee (in fact, most people think their coffee is horrid but it works fine for me), their Christmas stuff are usually something that I would  give a try, at least a few items, at least once. The first thing that I picked for food was the Apple Cinnamon Muffin. This photo is taken off the website of Starbucks Singapore; if I have the chance, I’ll post my own photo later. 🙂

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Is there anything special about this muffin? Well, for one, I think the hint of cinnamon isn’t very strong. That is probably good for people who are not so into it; but then if you aren’t, you probably wouldn’t even order this item right? What tops the muffin, as well as contained within (albeit in a rather small amount) is similar to what you would find in an apple pie, candied/spiced bits of apple. I think it isn’t exceedingly sweet, based on my memory of it until now, and since it is not huge for a muffin, it is just about nice to go with a nice, hot cup of Americano.

Drinks wise, I am quite happy they brought back the Gingerbread Latte. Apparently, that is what they wrote, but I don’t really remember this being on our local festive menu. For the last years when I had it, or even the first time I heard of and tried it, it was always overseas. Nevertheless, I’m glad we have it this year and that was of course the first drink I had! It isn’t as sweet as the Toffee Nut Latte, and because it has some hints of spice from the gingerbread syrup used (I assume), I generally enjoyed it and preferred it over the TNL.

Starbucks Christmas delights part 6

As we near the end of Christmas, I promise that my postings on Starbucks Christmas delights will also be nearing their end. I have tried almost everything that I wanted to from the local Christmas menu so there also isn’t much else to go on about. Just bear with me for a little while more!

This year, I noticed that they introduced a couple of savoury scones. I’m not sure if there were similar items in the past years but if there were, I did not give them a try. I decided to go ahead and check them out this time round, since savoury scones are not something that I would expect; they are meant to be buttery and sweet, but I guess there is no stopping the introduction of a savoury taste. Besides, there are also savoury muffins and waffles, which I have yet to try because I think those would be weird. But then again, we never know, they could be just as, if not more, delicious./home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/452/2193806/files/2014/12/img_1024.jpgOne of them was the Green & Red Pepper Scone with Cream Cheese. It actually was nice and didn’t feel weird at all, because the peppery flavour lent by the green & red peppers were not overpoweringly strong so they gave a different dimension of taste to the buttery item. The cream cheese used also made a difference, because it didn’t taste like the regular ‘creamy’ cream cheese, rather it was a slightly milder form I think, so the tastes were complementary instead of contrasting. The colours here are a little too vivid to see the scone and cream cheese properly but its wedged into the middle of the scone like a burger and for me, at just the right amount though I would think cream cheese fans would feel it’s too little.

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The other savoury scone on their menu was the Turkey Bacon scone. I was a little iffy about this because somehow this sounds more ‘savoury’ than the peppers but decided to give it a go anyhow. Those are bacon bits used even if from the picture they resembled more like dried cranberries./home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/452/2193806/files/2014/12/img_1025.jpg

Similar to the pepper scone, this was surprisingly good. In fact it wasn’t as savoury as I thought it to be, because it was only the bacon bits that were used and other than that, the scone remained true to its buttery origin. It felt more like a normal scone than the peppery scone without the differences in tastes other than what the bacon bits added, and could come across as a little dry as it started crumbling when I put the knife to it. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/452/2193806/files/2014/12/img_1026.jpgSo there you go! It almost wraps up all of my Starbucks Christmas posts. Almost. Because there is just one last item to go. Soon. 🙂

Travel times with Starbucks

Christmas, or the end of the year, is my favourite time of the year. The weather has typically been cooler around this period and marked with the dual Christmas and New Year holidays, the festive vibe just reverberates throughout the entire city. It also coincides with the time when most people would be on leave or travel for vacation, so most would be in a relaxed mood, winding down the year and perhaps gearing themselves up for the new year (if we ever can get ourselves to do that).

And as with all enjoyable times, they just pass way too fast and somehow it seems like in the blink of an eye, we are almost at the edge of it. The year will be over in just about 2 days and Christmas has come and gone. Although I had griped to those around me, incessantly (and I really send my heartfelt apologies for the constant whining), about some of my follies and their consequences, I am still thankful for several things that happened this year. We cannot bemoan the quick passage of time because it doesn’t recoup anything, lost time is irrecoverable and that is why we are always told to look forward.

Maybe the year-end also put me in a strong festive mood and in October I took a last minute decision to fly to Bangkok. It was supposed to be a planned trip somewhere else, but plans change when people’s minds change. Then in December, it was again another last minute trip to Hong Kong, which was supposed to something I wanted to do for a friend but ended up otherwise. It was then that I appreciate the spontaneity of one of my friends, someone whom stepped into my life unexpectedly.

So to get on with things proper, this is a Starbucks post after all! I am no ambassador of the coffee chain with the ubiquitous green mermaid logo, heck they don’t need ambassadors when they are almost everywhere, but I do indulge in their Christmas delights all too often, each year without fail. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/452/2193806/files/2014/12/img_1027.jpg

Last year we had the Cranberry Orange Loaf in Singapore which I really liked. Unfortunately, it did not make a reappearance this year, yet I was really excited when I saw that something similar was available in Starbucks Hong Kong! So of course I would order it and it was good! I think as compared to what we had locally last year, this felt more ‘bread’ than cake/loaf as it was a little drier and lighter. Only managed to have it once due to the limited stomach space and number of meals. Sigh./home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/452/2193806/files/2014/12/img_1028.jpg

In Hong Kong, they also had the Gingerbread Latte which is my best-loved Christmas drink after I discovered it last year in Manila and had it pretty often there and even Shanghai. Somehow I don’t know why Singapore doesn’t have this. Had it in a cute short-sized beverage to lessen the guilt, as I ordered a huge cranberry scone that morning. Haha. Was also surprised to see they were selling gingerbread man cookies so I bought one for my friend who was joining me for the trip. 🙂/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/452/2193806/files/2014/12/img_1029.jpg

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A couple of weeks after returning from Hong Kong, it was off to Bangkok to celebrate Christmas! It was another impromptu trip but not as last minute as the Hong Kong one. To say that I was celebrating Christmas in Bangkok is a little bit of an exaggeration as we didn’t really do much when we were there; it was more of a trip to chill out and eat, relax and do nothing in particular.

As fans of Starbucks, we won’t fail to check ourselves in once in a while for a cup of coffee and some sweet treats. So at Bangkok’s Starbucks, these were what we found.

There was no Gingerbread Latte here so the focus was more on food. Carrot, walnut and raisin muffin anyone? It’s almost like having a carrot cake sans the cream cheese frosting baked in a muffin cup, nice and moist and at just the right size for a muffin. Aside from that, the muffins here are baked a little different from the ones we typically see in Singapore. There isn’t the ‘muffin top’ that we often see, spilling out of the cup that has somehow caused the term to morph into a derogatory description of people who probably consumed too many muffins and ended up with fats hanging out over the waistbands of their jeans or skirts. And that made us wonder if that was the reason for the names of their muffin; the other one we ordered was a Skinny Banana muffin. Lol. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/452/2193806/files/2014/12/img_1032.jpg

And on another day, we had a Chocolate muffin, which surprisingly wasn’t as sweet as I expected. I had always steered away from ordering a similar version in Singapore whether in Starbucks or elsewhere but this perhaps will cause me to give it a try the next time. Notice the lack of that ‘over-hanging’ bit I mentioned before. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/452/2193806/files/2014/12/img_1031.jpgAnd the Cranberry Bliss bar, which is another Christmas item that we didn’t have this year. Actually I cannot recall if we had it last year but I remembered having it in Tokyo some time ago. This year I raised this question to my friends or rather mused rhetorically if the widespread use of dried cranberries in food products is a real Christmas tradition or just by virtue of the fact of it bearing the Christmas-y red colour. Most people felt it would be the latter but who knows right maybe there really is some link between Christmas and dried cranberries just like how log cakes, gingerbread cookies and Christmas stollens are always associated with this festive period?

Starbucks Christmas delights part 5

I believe these are called Christmas delights but for some reasons I have named all my previous four posts as Christmas moments. Anyway, I am too lazy to change them so I will leave them be. Have been fairly busy and also lazy of late to update so posts are really intermittent, especially now that this blog has evolved into a pin-up of the food that I eat sometimes.

Was aggrieved by Starbucks recently due to some problems with reloading of my stored value card and the issuance of reward points. Sigh. I realise that it doesn’t really pay to be honest sometimes because I end up short-changing myself. This had kind of marred my impression of the coffee chain, when I had considered myself as a sort of Starbucks fan, preferring it over Coffee Bean or Spinelli. Perhaps this will lead me to cut down on my frequency of visits and eventually I will just stop being a member of their rewards programme. Oh well, let’s see what happens.

So one of the other items I had from the Christmas line-up was the Christmas Turkey Pie. IMG_0532.JPGAs with most of their pies, with the exception of the brusselsprouts quiche, this is fairly huge and would make for a good meal on its own. For me at least, and I believe I am speaking for most people. When it comes to pastries, I think I have a healthy appetite, but not so much for other things maybe, like proper meals. I like this pie, almost as much as I did the Devil’s Curry Pie, other than the latter being more spicy and giving it that extra oomph. I am not sure if the turkey pie contains much turkey, but I did remember seeing and eating small chunks of turkey sausage, along with mashed up potatoes for the filling with a nice peppery flavour.

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Goes well with a long black, as usual. You don’t need a cappuccino or latte to fill you up further, a good black coffee would be the perfect accompaniment for this.IMG_0534.JPGMaybe this will be the last item for me, unless I decide to try the savoury scones that they have. I don’t think I have tried any savoury scones before, so let’s see. Not too keen on the chocolate mint cheesecake, unless I can find someone to share it with. But the blip with the rewards card, and also the other coffee chains’ offerings are incentivising me to move on!