Thursday, July 19, 2007

Palate bending experience

If only for the fact that I find it extremely annoying to have my espresso order be translated into "a doppio, for Mathias", I try to steer away from Starbucks. Unfortunately, the cafe I usually go to closes at 3, so when I need a late-afternoon shot of caffeine, I have to compromise and go there; which is a great opportunity to keep up with the latest trends in weird coffee-related drinks Starbucks keeps coming up with.
Their latest, the Raspberry Mocha, is truly a winner. I quote the press release:
For a truly refreshing experience, Starbucks has paired the flavors of fresh raspberries and delectable chocolate, inspired by the very sweetness ofsummer.

This comes with a very mysterious add campaign, claiming that "Lawn moving is a competitive sport", and that "Life is better from the porch". I really have no idea what this is about, but then that's also probably why I don't buy drinks "inspired by the very sweetness of summer".

Or so I hoped; I order my usual double espresso"doppio, for Mathias"; but when I take the first sip, something feels terribly wrong. A strong scent of raspberry is there, reminiscent of air-refreshing aerosol; apparently, the "barrista" inadvertently innovated and laced my drink with some raspberry syrup. I can't say whether life is better on the porch, but for sure it's much better without raspberries in espresso. This thing has to be the vilest thing I tasted in quite a while - and the taste is just amazingly persistent. I could still taste it half an hour later.

The second palate-bending experience of the week happened at Sanmi, a Japanese restaurant on 3226, Geary Boulevard. The place is recommended for the non-sushi dises, so L and I go for a Sukiyaki (delicious) and a Black Cod Kasuzuke.
There are things you like, there are things you dislike, and all sorts of indifferent stuff in between; and then, there are a few things where talent and strong personality are obvious, but which are so outlandish that the question of whether you like it or not just does not seem to apply, because there is no clear point of comparison for them.
In the realm of movies, "2001: A Space Odyssey", is a good example; in Japanese food, there is the Black Cod Kasuzuke. I have never tasted something remotely similar before; L and I spent a good part of the dinner trying to figure out the strong taste. Was it coming from the fish, or from the sake and miso marinade? Was it more reminiscent of black olives, or coffee? Right after watching 2001, I had similar discussions, trying to make sense of what I had just experienced - but I believe this is where the analogy will fall apart. I watched the movie a second time, in hopes of understanding it better, but I doubt I will try the Black Cod Kasuzuke again. If you are not faint-hearted, and want to get off the beaten track of sushi, I would definitely recommend it, though.



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