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Odds and ends

  • So, Chantico, Starbucks' latest hot chocolate drink, has been receiving a great deal of food forum and weblog press. Everything I've read about it has been gushingly enthused. So I tried some today... and was disappointed. Yes, it's much chocolate-ier and not quite as sickly sweet as their usual hot chocolate, but it's still a bit syrupy, and still way too sweet. I needed to drink water afterwards to recover. If you're in Toronto and want good hot chocolate, go to J.S. Bonbons on Queen St., or Soma. Toronto Life (Feb 2005 issue) also recommends Jet Fuel, Le Gourmand, and the seven-branch Churrisimo.
  • I always, always forget that any journal listed in the U of T card catalog as being in the Engineering library isn't, if it's before 1985. Of course, this is the same library that could not find the special collection, hidden-behind-the-desk volume I really did want to look at today. They'd better not have lost it.
  • I bought useful things today: a powered USB hub and another set of cardboard shelves for organizing articles. (medievalist is right - I need to update my book database - in FileMaker - to include the whereabouts of articles.)
  • Whole Foods sells quince paste and spicy quince preserve, but no fresh, whole quinces.
  • Dinah's Cupboard (on Cumberland between Bay and Yonge) sells both quince jelly and quince jam.
  • The LCBO stocks quince-flavored brandy... but, not being a brandy fan, it's not worth paying $50 to acquire.
  • Iranian archaeologists have unearthed 5000-year-old cumin in a dig. I wonder how much evidence there is for other spice use that far back? (via mirabilis.ca)
  • And my email box contained a very delightful thing from my mother today: a link to an image painted by my great-grandfather. It's lovely. Relatives are trying to buy it, if it's still available.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 28th, 2005 03:40 am (UTC)
Thank you for saving me from the mystery of Starbucks' chocolate. I'll just take your word for it. I keep thinking, if it were GOOD hot chocolate, they wouldn't need to keep selling it so hard.
Jan. 28th, 2005 04:01 am (UTC)
I understand that everyone has a different set of taste buds and different foods appeal to different people. But I feel sorry for anyone for whom this is the best hot chocolate they've ever drunk.
Jan. 28th, 2005 06:45 am (UTC)
ps--I added "Shrew_Access" as an RSS feed to LJ if you want to add!
Jan. 28th, 2005 09:45 am (UTC)
Interesting...I don't think they're advertising that particular chocolate beverage at our Starbucks here...thanks for the review!

Personally, I'm still all for the hot chocolates my co-worker Steve makes...we have lovely fairtrade cocoa mix and he's worked as a barista (and we have a big espresso machine) so he whips up some of the best hot chocolate I've ever had.

For nostalgia value, though, I still miss Haymarket hot chocolate, even if it really did just happen to be steamed chocolate milk!
Jan. 28th, 2005 01:38 pm (UTC)
History of spices
Timeline available at this fascinating site.
Jan. 28th, 2005 05:48 pm (UTC)
Re: History of spices
What a lovely site! I wish it went into even more detail. The timeline is written in such generalizations. How much is known about which spices Hapshetsut traded in? etc. There's a book due out in April called Spice: History of a Temptation which I've been eyeing. Not that there aren't already plenty of histories out there on the subject which I haven't read yet. I know cinnamon and nutmeg each have their own popular histories on the market.
Jan. 28th, 2005 03:59 pm (UTC)
I've tried Chantico twice-- the first time it was sweet but not excessively so, and the second time it was so bittersweet and rich I had to add some cream to sweeten it up a bit. So I'm wondering if it depends on the barista and the proportions they use in mixing your drink. Maybe you got a dud, or maybe we have different tastes... The only thing I was disappointed about is that from the ads it looked like it would be thicker, like the Italian kind you eat with a spoon.
Jan. 28th, 2005 05:44 pm (UTC)
Re: chantico
Cream would really help it. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't anything I'd go out of my way for either. It needs something to leaven that sweetness. You're right though, different batches and different bariste would make a different. I might well have one again at some point, since coffee shops make convenient meeting-up places.
Jan. 28th, 2005 05:01 pm (UTC)
whoa! what an image. especially the difference between the treatment of the sky and the middle/ foreground. that's reeeeeeeeeeelly interesting.

How did she find it?
Jan. 28th, 2005 05:42 pm (UTC)
A relative who still has my great-grandfather's last name located it doing a websearch of some sort. And then emailed the link on to other family members.
Jan. 28th, 2005 05:39 pm (UTC)
I haven't tried chantico myself but I overheard a group of people in the queue saying it was too sweet/syrupy and they couldn't finish it - to be honest that's the picture the ads oainted for me as well. Not being a fan of overly sweet ('overly chocolatey'?) hot chocolate I decided not to investigate.
Jan. 28th, 2005 05:41 pm (UTC)
Sweet does not equal chocolatey. The two often go together in confections, but personally I prefer dark and bittersweet chocolate, both of which often has very little sugar indeed involved. (Pure chocolate is too bitter for me though. It needs some sweetener.)
Jan. 28th, 2005 09:16 pm (UTC)
I guess sweet doesn't equal chocolatey, but the advert seemd to conjure up all that was bad about over the top chocolate drinks. I could feel myself instinctively reaching for a glass of water...
Feb. 2nd, 2005 01:32 am (UTC)
Absolute garbage! You can immediatly tell it's a basic powder based drink that's too sweet and processed. (Comes in a powder and mixed with water or milk. The best hot chocolates in the city are listed in Toronto Life magazine with exception of the churrisimo hot chocolate, which is much like the xantico. Soma and Le Gourmand both make their own authentic thick "spanish style" hot chocolate that blows away what Starbucks is tryin to immitate.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )