The countdown begins to November 4, 2009. And the mad dash to nail down that 2010 planner.
Next Wednesday, the iconic green cups at Starbucks give way to the season’s glitterati: drinking cups splashed in reds and whites, dolled-up pastries, and new savories that satisfy. It’s the siren song of the mermaid ushering in the Christmas Cheer the way only Starbucks can.
Yes, the Peppermint Mocha Latte is coming back for an encore joined by the mysterious Dark Cherry Mocha Latte (my favorite – bittersweet chocolate, dried cherries, espresso, steamed milk); and the lively Toffee Nut Latte (toffee, toasted nuts, espresso, steamed milk); all decorated with a spritz of whip and sprinkled with red sugar sprinkles, cocoa powder, and toffee-flavored sprinkles (respectively).
The drinks are partners to the holiday food line-up, a selection extensive enough to last me throughout the 12 days of Christmas. The Pan-Roasted Pork Loin on Italian Country Bread is juicy enough to impress me but I’m taken by the Christmas Turkey Chicken On Cranberry Bread made more memorable with cheddar and cranberry mayo. “A great way to finish up the turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving,” my friend jokes. There’s also a Mexican theme going with two offerings: the Empanada con Carne Puff, similar to chili con carne in pastry, it’s cumin-spiked ground beef and cheese. Following closely is what I call Starbucks’ answer to the burrito, the Carnitas Con Pinto Wrap – shredded pork, pinto beans and cilantro-studded tomato salsa enclosed in a tortilla wrapper. I want to ask for hot sauce but I have a feeling it’s not in Starbucks’ inventory.
I appreciate puff pastry in any form even if it feels like I’m eating a hamburger, as is the case in the Patty Melt Puff which has a beef patty ensconced in the pastry’s buttery folds; it’sÂ the burger for the sophisticate. Though I don’t get to try it, Starbucks’ salute to Remy is embodied in the Ratatouille Roll, something substantial that’s easy on the guilt meter: multi-grain bread, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, and mushrooms harmonized with basil and thyme.
And the desserts, oy! Can there be anything that gets me in the Yuletide mood quicker than the CrÃ¨me Brulee Cheesecake, its glass-smooth surface glinting with a glaze of caramel, its tender custard speckled with vanilla beans?
Maybe not, but the Chocolate Crepe Cake is a worthy Christmas contender. Seventeen ”“ count ”˜em ”“ paper-thin crepes each gilded with pastry cream and stacked to make a mountain cloaked in chocolate ganache. Mmm. And because Starbucks’ F&B Specialist, Celine Clemente, doesn’t quit when it comes to making a good thing even better, she’s introducing a riff on the Chocolate Molten Cake. Yes, it’s the soft and warm cake with a gooey center but pierce the middle and witness the gush of a dark caramel and chocolate truffle escaping from its midnight midst. Can you say, “cake-gasm”?
I’m a bit upset that I don’t get to try the Caramel Turtle Torte, an exuberant combination of caramel and pecans embedded in alternate layers of dark chocolate and white chocolate cake. The Chocolate Toffee Nut Loaf sounds equally drool-worthy too. But I do get to try the Peppermint Brownie (ooh, minty!) and the too cute Gingerbread Cookie which I mistakenly assume is a Halloween treat. I’m already thinking that my coffee-loving friends will adore the Caramelized Hazelnut Loaf which is like eating a giant Nutella sandwich.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you about the Starbucks 2010 planner. This year, it comes in three different covers (see cover photo) highlighting the various processes from bean to cup, thus: the coffee bean plant, roasting, and lastly, the perfect espresso shot. Each cover also has different textures, from nubuck-like (coffee bean) to nubby (roasting), and finally, velvety (espresso). There’s even a tiny coffee bean made of pewter (I think) which, if you look closely, has Starbucks 2010 printed on it. Now excuse me while I go run to my nearest Starbucks. I’ve got to start racking up points for all three planners.
Starbucks Christmas Cheer 2009
Begins on Nov. 4, 2009 ”“ Jan. 6, 2010
At all Starbucks nationwide.