Sunny & Cool Day Becomes A Rainy & Thundering Evening

Today a Saturday was one of the coolest yet sunniest days in a long while. It was bright and sunny yet there was a cool wind blowing throughout and hence it was prefect for a day out. I took a book and went out to spend some time reading in cafes while sipping on coffees.

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Nice day for some cold coffee. I also had a really good tandoori chicken sandwich from Cafe Coffee Day, the first stop for today. A couple of hours spent in the cool confines of my favourite coffeeshop franchise while reading a book is great for relaxing on the weekend.

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Marine Drive was my next destination. Another hour or so spent reading while sitting on a bench overlooking the Arabian sea is awesome. I had to go back in for more cold coffee but this is a quick pic I snapped while inside the Bay Pride Mall.

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Alas days like these are few and far between. My second cup of coffee was this new and improved and simply titled cold coffee from the Bay Pride Mall’s food court. The same coffee just better tasting and with a generous shot or two of chocolate syrup – man it was really good. Well good for a place that doesn’t specialize in coffee.

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Before leaving the mall I stepped into a store that sells computer/laptops, mobiles and accessories and bought a new Dell USB wireless mouse to go with my new Dell laptop. Pretty cute with a nice glossy matte finish that is so smooth to the touch.

Food Review # 44

My very first visit to a Starbuck’s – I had the Iced Caramel Macchiato & Basil, Tomato & Mozzarella Sandwich. I’m skipping quite a few videos to post this one here because my visit to Chennai was a short one and I just blogged about this visit to the famed coffeeshop franchise. So here is my review of the Starbucks food & coffee.

My First Ever Starbucks Visit

So…I have never ever been to a Starbucks in my life until this Friday. And that’s because they don’t have an outlet in Cochin or anywhere near here for me to visit. There isn’t one in Kerala at all but there are a couple in Chennai. So on Friday after I left the office post raising a request for my return flight back to Cochin, I called for a taxi and headed towards Phoenix Market City / Phoenix Mall in Vellacherri (which is part of the main city of Chennai). It took me almost 40 minutes to get there.

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I entered the mall after the elaborate security checks and immediately fell in love with the large mall. We need more malls! I walked into the ground floor and immediately saw a large banner for Dunkin’ Donuts. But I think that was just an announcement of the franchise opening (I didn’t bother to read it completely) and did not see an outlet in the mall. But I turned left at one end and saw……Starbucks! Yes, it’s like the mothership calling me home!

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So I didn’t know that they had a Starbucks here but I was happy anyways. Starbucks is one of the franchises that I really wanted to try (it was in my top 5) and I walked in, checked out their menu and settled on an iced grande caramel macchiato and a basil, tomato & mozzarella cheese sandwich on foccachia bread sandwich! Whew, that is a mouthful. And what a good mouthful it is!

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So here is the large elaborately lengthy named a basil, tomato & mozzarella cheese sandwich on foccachia bread sandwich. That bread is so delicious even on it’s own and I love the seasame seeds on it. It’s also got fennel on it, I think. The mozzarella was delicious but the tomatoes were a downer. The basil was more like a pesto but I like the combination so much anyway. It was really good and light. Not having had anything other than a coffee or two for breakfast, I was so happy for that sandwich.

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And ofcourse, the reason why I went in, a famed coffee from Starbucks. I had a hard time settling on one coffee to try and decided to go with the iced grande caramel macchiato. It was good but I expected much more. It didn’t blow my mind or anything and that could be because I built it up in my head for so many years before actually trying it out. But still good. I will have a review video out sometime soon. Enjoy the pics!

My Prize For Winning A CCD Twitter Contest

About 2 months ago I had taken part in a caption making contest that Cafe Coffee Day was running on Twitter. They had 10 photos and chose the funniest for each as the winner. I was the winner of the 2nd photo. I finally got the prize delivered to my residence (albeit after following up with them on Twitter as well as email)

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This afternoon while I was out I got a call from FedEx informing me about the package and I have them directions to my apartment. As I was away mom signed it for me.

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The first item in the box is this espresso machine that you see above here. Kinda works like a filter coffee I guess. I have never used one before but I will try it out say by tomorrow.

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The second item in the package was a tin of Dark Forest coffee that Cafe Coffee Day sells in their stores and on online. I will try that one out as well as soon as say tomorrow. Hope it is good!

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The third item is the large coffee mug that you see on the right. It came in this little box. Unfortunately I already have a very similar coffee cup that I had bought from CCD a couple of years back. It’s basically the same with just some added images – truth be told the added images makes the cup look rather tacky and I much prefer the old design!

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Now the bad thing – the coffee cup comes with a saucer. However the saucer was broken in transit and I got it in several pieces, as seen here in the photo below! I dunno if it was the fault of FedEx but that is terrible!

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And the last item in the box is this “Cafe Moments” card that they sent me – it works like a debit / prepaid card at any CCD outlet and they had put in Rs.100 in the account to start me off. The total value of the prize package is Rs.1000. Here is the video of the unboxing in 2 parts.

Shirts, Shoes & Stuff

Last evening’s lovely rain duped me into thinking that today might be a cool day weather wise to go out for a bit of long delayed shopping. It was instead a rather hot day and even now, at 6:40 pm, still 33 degrees Celsius. Anyway I had planned to go shopping with my cousin Sujith, as I’d called him and asked him if he wanted to join me. He was game and so we decided to meet at Men’s Studio near Kacheripady by 11 am. Unfortunately for us the sun was blazing hot by then. As I live nearby, I reached much earlier than he did and I went in and sought a salesman at one of the counters. I looked at well over 30 shirts before selecting around 8 and tried them out before selecting 2 to buy for now. I’ve asked them to keep one in reserve for me and that I would come by on Monday and buy it. I had the money but I also wanted to buy a pair of shoes and decided to get that first.

Sujith and I went to get some coffee and a small bite to eat and step out of the hot sun for a while. As we drank our cold coffee, sitting on couches next to the ceiling to floor length windows of the cafe, we stared at a stupid tank lorry driver who, knowingly or unknowingly, drove from a side road onto MG Road and basically blocked the busy street for over 20 minutes. With the Metro railway work being done on Mg Road, as it is the road is heavily congested and now a large queue of cars, buses, autos and bikes were now piled up on the road as a illegal turn to the main road was done by this guy. It was fun to watch for us as he twisted, drove and turned for many minutes but I’m sure the driver of the lorry was under pressure and many people on the roads and on their vehicles were cursing him.

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We then went to buy shoes but – the preferred place that I go to was closed so we tried a couple of other places. We waited for a while to be served but no one came for a long time and so we left the first place. The second place said they had a large 70% discount as part of a clearance sale. They lied! Someone should tell them what the meaning of a discount is – marking a make believe large amount as the original price and then slashing it and showing an amount, which is the actual rate, is not a fucking discount! Everything was charged quite high and I knew that I could the same shoes at a lower rate in my preferred store so I decided to wait for a couple of days and try my luck again.

We then went for lunch and had pizzas (videos will be uploaded soon) and Appy Fizz to wash it down. More walking in the sun for checking out shoes and we ended the evening with frappes (bad choice as I was too full with those). But it was so hot and we were sweaty and I was tired. After an hour sitting in another cafe we left to our respective homes.

Bru’s Cappuccino Packets

Bru is the preferred coffee brand of choice in my household. We prefer it to the more costlier Nescafe and the cheaper Sunrise (these are the only three instant coffee powder brands that we buy). Given a choice, I would probably buy Bru over the other two. Yes you get more fancier brands but they are too expensive for this family.

Bru had launched different packets of these cappuccino styles & flavourings (not sure when but I have seen a few here and there) but I find them lacking in quality and taste whenever I have tried such stuff before. Recently I found a single packet of the Creme flavoured cappuccino powder, enough for making a 120 ml cup of coffee, which came free with something else I bought at the store. Yesterday evening I thought I’d try it out and see how it measured up to the cappuccinos I have had at cafes like CCD and Barista.

One word – yuck! It tasted so bad enough though I followed the instructions to the letter. The aftertaste was so terrible that I had to eat a banana just to get it outta my tongue!

My Lament To Cafe Coffee Day

I posted this on Cafe Coffee Day’s official Facebook page sometime back along with the photo!

“Your outlet in Shenoy’s Junction, Mg Road, Kochi has become so depressing. I went there this evening after a gap of a month. The quality has been declining steadily week after week. A couple of months back I had pieces of plastic (from the milk packet) in my frappe. Today I went there and the place is looking like a dump. Cartons, boxes & black garbage bags filled with stuff dumped to one side. Due to this there was a lack of space on one area of the cafe, where I had the misfortune of sitting and the tables were pushed so close to each other. I regretted placing an order especially when my veg samosa arrived – the texture is like leather! I could use it to make a pair of shoes! Atleast the coffee was good. But I am not going to step inside the place again. Here is a pic of said cartons & black plastic bags. Couldn’t take more as my phone battery was dying.”

Elephant Dung Coffee

Thailand’s more elite resort chains is releasing “one of the most expensive and exclusive” varities of coffee in the world. The coffee is ground by hand and brewed at 93 degrees Celsius in a syphon machine “using technology developed in 1840 in Austria.” According to the resort’s press release, the result is a “very clean and flavourful taste,” which is a curious way to describe coffee brewed through beans picked from elephant feces! No you didn’t read that wrongly. Yes, it’s elephant dung coffee!!

The Black Ivory blend, made from coffee beans digested and excreted by Thai elephants, is billed as producing a particularly smooth cup. “Research indicates that during digestion, the enzymes of the elephant break down coffee protein,” the Thai-based hotel group, which is selling the pungent brew at around $50 for two cups, said in a statement sent to AFP on Thursday. “Since protein is one of the main factors responsible for bitterness in coffee, less protein means almost no bitterness.” —– Oh really!

At $1,100 per kilo — roughly $27 a cup — it really ought to be the cleanest, most flavorful taste on the planet. Elephant caretakers dig through the dung of the elephants in their care to extract & retrieve coffee beans digested by graceful pachyderms.