Posts Tagged 'coffee'

A Dean and Deluca Kind of Birthday

I used to hate birthdays, but now that I’ve started to acknowledge them a day to eat everything, I think I like them now. I went to bed at 2 AM disappointed because no one wished me a happy birthday, but when I woke up the next morning, I had dozens of missed calls, voicemails, text messages, and Facebook alerts. I went to bed thinking the day would suck, but woke up thinking it was promising.

I started off the day with homemade scrambled scallion and asiago eggs, turkey bacon, orange juice, and a Starbucks coffee. (I don’t really like bacon, but I figured it’d be nice to have with eggs.) I opened all of the windows so there was a beautiful breeze flowing through the apartment. The air in the apartment is usually thick, but the mix of the fresh air from outside and the smells from breakfast lingered for hours. It felt like a refreshing summer day in the suburbs.

I made my way down to Dean and Deluca in Soho to pick up a macaron and an iced coffee. I’ve been dying to try their coffee, but I don’t know how to make my own coffee, so I never bought it to avoid putting my own sugar in. I figured today was the day to try it. I just bought a coffee macaron from the bakery area and I glanced up at the menu – iced mocha, iced this, iced that, Strawberry Italian Soda. It has been years since I’ve had Italian soda, but it so delicious that I instantly ordered one. I turned around and my friend surprised me with a red velvet birthday cake.

Of course I picked Cafetasia for my birthday dinner. It is my favorite Thai restaurant and one of my favorite restaurants of all time. The food is always delicious. The service is always fast and excellent. The atmosphere is trendy and awesome. Even if I could, I wouldn’t change anything about Cafetasia.

We ordered Mango Batita drinks, which were described as a mango and pineapple drink. I expected them to be yellow, or even orange, but they came out green. Weird. (On second thought, it is green because it is mixed with blue liquor.) They didn’t taste too strong, but half way through the drink, I was drunk. I quickly drank the rest as I saw the appetizers coming over, so I turned into drunken eating mode and just devoured it all. It was the best food at Cafetasia that I’ve ever had. I don’t know if it was because the chef was especially amazing that night or because everything tastes better when drunk. Leaning towards the latter, but I devoured BBQ beef skewers, chicken satay and toast, gyoza, extra spicy chicken basil udon, and then some of my friend’s pad thai.

We didn’t eat the cake until later that night, but it took us two minutes from start to finish. It was the most dense and delicious cake I have ever had. It was such a rich and dark red velvet. I seriously wonder what Dean and Deluca can’t do. When it comes to food, especially bakery treats, they are truly the best of the best.

I laid down for a bit to recover from dinner and the cake and then made hard lemonade with Belvedere. Turned on Iron Man, and passed out somewhere within the next hour. I didn’t expect my ship to sink that quickly, but it was the perfect end to my birthday.

Problems with Starbucks in Manhattan

I’ve been an avid Starbucks customer for six years now. I am sure my Starbucks addiction would have started sooner had a Starbucks been constructed years earlier in White Plains. But the first one was on Main Street, some odd years ago, an all glass structure plopped right next to the fountain, to serve as both a homeless shelter and refreshing coffeehouse. (It acted more as the former and less as the latter as the years went on.) I found another Starbucks in Ramsley Square after the move and I’ve been addicted since. The cost was offset by a soothing atmosphere, delicious taste, and the pompous feeling. Let’s face it: everyone feels above everyone else when they have Starbucks in their hand. It was a source of both refreshment and elitism for me.

I set aside $250 every month to sustain my elitism, but that soon developed into an addiction. I’ve had crying fits of rage when I didn’t have my Starbucks. I’ve gone from depressed and lonely to happy and cheerful in just one sip. Starbucks is more than its coffee. But Starbucks in Manhattan continuously forgets that and serves substandard drinks with attitude at astronomical prices. Here’s a list of complaints, annoyances, and sources of hatred that have dwindled my budget to a mere once-a-week habit, at most:

  • Bad Drinks: I am understanding and sympathetic when my name is spelled incorrectly as “Micheal.” But when you destroy my drink the first time, don’t be annoyed when I ask you to make it for a second, third, and as it has happened before, fourth time. My order is not complicated (venti sugar-free vanilla, non-fat chai), but it is specific enough to have a distinctive taste that I notice when a shot of chai is missing, or when the barista completely forgot the sugar-free vanilla. There are only two Starbucks in the city with commendable baristas: Starbucks on Spring/Crosby, and on 41st and Madison. The Starbucks at Astor messes up on average of two times per order, and leaves a one inch margin of nothing at the top of the drink. (They don’t even have the courtesy to kill that space with ice!) And the one in Union Square on 15th is in its own world. It is dirty inside, the staff are completely rude, and they manage to destroy every drink, if they even remember to make it.
  • Terrible Wifi: The internet was shoddy at best when Starbucks required that you either pay for it or enter your Gold account information. But now that they’ve enabled it for the public, it has dropped to the terrible status. I have longed for the opportunity to order a decent chai and sit and surf the internet on my laptop. The anger is amplified when you wait fifteen minutes for a seat and the internet doesn’t work at all. I highly doubt it would cost more than $50 per location to increase the bandwidth, speed, and reach.
  • High Costs: I pay $4.74 for my Starbucks in the suburbs. That same drink is $5.24 in the city. My Gold card brings it to the 4.20s in the suburbs, but only to 4.70s in the city. I’d be understanding if the drinks were heavenly, but they are the opposite. It is a huge turn off to go to Starbucks, pay higher prices, and receive a drink that tastes terrible.
  • Rude Baristas: I am sick of the looks the baristas give me when I ask them to remake it. I don’t care how long the line is. I don’t care how many drinks you are working on it. If you made it right the first time, then I wouldn’t be requesting a new one! Some have even had the audacity to come up to patrons using their laptops and asking them if they have ordered a drink or will be ordering a drink. When the barista asked me, I ignored him. How dare you ask if I’ve ordered a drink? I was tempted to pull out my Gold card, and even my Black card that I keep in my wallet because its design is beautiful, and throw them at him. I understand that Starbucks wants to ensure that the public is not mooching off its internet (and bathrooms), but then the company shouldn’t have enabled free, public wifi. I’d be more than happy to log into my account to use internet. I’d be more than happy to swipe my Gold card on the bathroom door. But don’t come asking if I’ve ordered a drink.
I can keep going with my list, but I’ve come to accept some of them and am understanding. But these problems are the most occurring and the most annoying. Starbucks has such a large customer base that these rants and lists don’t matter, but it’s nice to vocalize my rants through blogging. I have complained before and exchanged emails with HQ Starbucks employees, but to no avail. My addiction has diminished and I’m sure Starbucks will continue to be an infrequent refreshment.

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