Tuesday, April 3, 2012

First Ever Free Cone Day! - Ben & Jerry's

April 3, 2012
Ben & Jerry's, Philadelphia PA
Blueberry Vanilla Graham Greek Frozen Yogurt
Sweet Cream & Cookies Ice Cream

Before today, I was aware that Ben & Jerry's is quite a popular ice cream brand. I just never had the chance to try it since I'm not the kind to buy one scoop of ice cream at an ice cream shop. So I got really excited last week as I walked by Ben & Jerry's on campus and saw the poster for Free Cone Day. Finally, I get to try all their exotic flavours!

I decided since it was only one scoop at a time, I could go twice. It was such a nice, sunny day today - the perfect weather for ice cream in April. I was planning on getting their Mango Sorbet but they did not have that in the store on campus. Therefore, during lunch break, I got the new Blueberry Vanilla Graham Greek Frozen Yogurt. I was not disappointed - at all.

I have always been a fan of frozen yogurt but I need the yogurt to have a creaminess to it as well as be sweet enough to taste more like ice cream rather than acidic yogurt. This cup of purple and white blend with that sprinkle of brown was so good! The blueberry gave it a nice, fresh taste. It was light yet creamy and smooth. The sweetness was just right, not at all overwhelming. The graham cracker swirls provided a nice contrast to the yogurt. The texture was lovely. This was definitely one of the best frozen yogurts I have had. One cup was just not enough.

In the evening, I went back for a cone. This time, the line was much longer, which may be why the scoops were so large. The employees were definitely rushing but no one complained about the size, that's for sure! I decided to go with the Sweet Cream & Cookies Ice Cream this time. I chose this over Banana Peanut Butter Greek Frozen Yogurt because the ice cream was a 'scoop shop only' flavour and I was feeling up to something extra creamy with a touch of chocolate.

For a cookies and cream ice cream, it was decent. In general, this is one of my favourite ice cream flavours. However, I do not think Ben & Jerry's ice cream is distinct in any way. The best I have had of this flavour is still Häagen-Dazs' cookies and cream. The cookies were quite good. I prefer the slightly larger chunks so the texture becomes more distinct. I like that soft, slightly moist chocolate sandwich cookie. The sweet cream ice cream was more of a disappointment for me. It is still a good ice cream, just nothing special.

It was great to have a chance to sample some ice cream shop flavours. I think the fact that it was an international event is extremely cool. I wonder if there are any Ben & Jerry's back home? However, I am tempted to go to Cold Stone Creamery and Häagen-Dazs or other ice cream shops back home this summer and try the exotic offerings they may have. Maybe I'll start with Timothy's. I cannot wait for summer and froyos, that's for certain!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Back to Christmas Time - Starbucks

April 1, 2012
Starbucks, Philadelphia PA
Peppermint Brownie Cake Pop
Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte

I was so excited two days ago to find that the second Starbucks on campus was carrying the Peppermint Brownie Cake Pop. I first tried that stick of deliciousness before Christmas break and it was love at first taste. I was never a fan of peppermint candy cane but I have to say, the blend of candy cane, sugar, white chocolate, and decadent chocolate brownie is very scrumptious. I made sure to eat this and take a photo this week because since it is Christmas-y and a seasonal offering, Starbucks might discontinue it anytime.

The second trying this dessert did not disappoint. The shell was sweet with that nice peppermint twist. The white chocolate is somewhat hidden behind the peppermint flavour, not overwhelming at all. I almost wish there is more of a white chocolate creaminess to the flavour. The shell was not hard either so it did not break into pieces too easily, making it easy to eat. The inside was just perfect. The brownie was moist, not overly sweet, and very soft and chewy. The texture is just right, and so is the sweetness level. In no way is this overly sweet. I would say it is one of the less overwhelming Starbucks desserts. Although it is small, I could have eaten a bigger one, or even a second cake pop, no problem.

Having worked (well, volunteered) at Starbucks over a year ago, I know that the handcrafted beverages' quality really depends on the barista. Each drink can be drastically different. It all depends on the amount of syrup and more importantly, the way the milk is steamed. My first ever cup of Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte was good, but then I got a very un-sweet cup the second time. That stopped me from getting it again. Today, however, I was feeling up to giving it another shot. I am glad I did.

I asked for no foam so the whole cup had more milk and creamy richness to it. The amount of syrup in this particular cup was just right. The nice and light sweet flavour was great and a perfect blend with the milk. The cinnamon on top added a nice hint of spice. This cup of coffee has definitely reawakened my taste buds, making me want to go back for more espresso beverages. I will make sure I do that sometime next week. Steamed milk, when done right, is always a nice drink.