Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Travel Series: Drink Up

Going by the title of "tourist" just recently spawned grand ideas that can even outdo the delusional's mind. While there were too many to mention, I do remember concocting strange plans such as travel blog, buffet series and spring fling. Blimey, what was I thinking?

None of it was accomplished though, thanks to the lazy old me.

Going back to my old habits of being hungry and famished, thoughts that filled my head were always centered on food. However, to stir things up a bit and to at least pretend that I exerted some effort into cooking up something new, I've decided on a beverage oriented post.

Being a water person, this may not be as extensive as, say, a wine connoisseur's blog, but still, these drinks quenched my thirst, made my day and deserve a special bulletin, so cheers!

In a side trip to Taiwan,I felt obliged to take a sip of milk tea and pay homage to the East.

[caption id="attachment_1596" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Casa Mila Cafe, Taoyuan Airport"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1595" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Earl Grey Milk Tea"][/caption]

While the concept of the Earl Grey Milk Tea is far from foreign for us Filipinos, this one was a bit on the "fastfood" side since I spied a teabag at the bottom of my cup. No brewing of tea leaves or sinkers of some sort. Just plain tea with milk and syrup to go with the sandwiches perhaps. Still, the flavor was excellent, straightforward, and something I can easily replicate at home, if the craving arises.

Moving on and finally reaching the West Coast, I learned that milk tea joints are not as popular in the US as they are in Asia. Whenever I said "milk tea" people just gave me a blank stare, but when I saw Boba Time at the mall, I had to exclaim, "So you do have milk tea in the States!" Still, people misunderstood my perfectly English statement and called it Boba Time. Just that. So whenever I referred to milk tea, I said Boba Time and then people smiled, as if it was the only Asian beverage place ever created.

Boba Time is a local mall favorite, among the youth perhaps since they don't have the adjustable sugar level settings that adults love. For about $2 to $4 for a cup, it's probably more expensive that the Philippine milk tea, but then again, I don't trust my math.

[caption id="attachment_1601" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Boba Time, Puente Hills Mall"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1597" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Mocha Green Tea Smoothie and Almond Milk Tea"][/caption]

When asked if I wanted "Boba" in my smoothie, the immediate answer was, "Of course!" I imagined the popping boba in the local joints and expected the US variety to be just as delectable. Lost in translation was the key to my disappointment as the hyped up boba turned out to just be the typical pearls. Oh well, at least the drink was superbly creamy and tea-lightful! (So good I bought it again, but this time no more boring boba.)

I saw Quickly at a nearby establishment. Yes, the Quickly we grew up with but with much better beverage pictures. While I didn't have the time to try it, I once again screamed, "You have Quickly here!" Blank faces.

"It's just like Boba Time!"

"Oh wow! Really?"

Nobody tried it though.

Who can forget Jamba Juice? Certainly not me, never mind if the menu is almost the same locally, except for some veggie juices, light smoothies, coffee, tea and frozen yogurt (available in tart, chocolate - which I didn't get to try because my toenails were already turning blue - not a good sign).

[caption id="attachment_1598" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Jamba Juice, Brea Mall"] [/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1599" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Acai Supercharger and Peach Perfection (Berry Fulfilling not in photo)"][/caption]

I'd have thrown a tomato at them if the smoothies tasted way different from the Philippine counterpart, but no, they tasted just the same. Good to know that our Manila franchise maintains the consistency and quality of Jamba Juice, and the local blokes are a lot friendlier too. Except that in the US, they serve the beverages in styro cups in an effort to show their concern for Mother Earth. Oh and they take way longer to melt, which they can thank their geography for.

The Berry Fulfilling promises 1/3 the calorie content of the original smoothies with the same amount of fruit. A bit on the frothy side, they probably skipped the juice or yogurt. Next time though, I wouldn't mind ingesting more calories for that creamier texture. Wait, what next time? Must be the jet lag talking.

Lastly, a trip to the grocery piqued my curiosity and finished off my spare change, as it became a quest to try out at least a vitamin water brand. I ended up with snacks for an army and these 2 drinks.

[caption id="attachment_1600" align="aligncenter" width="461" caption="Vitamin Drinks from Target, with Ben and Jerry's stealing a pose"][/caption]

While not really a vitamin water advocate, the vitamins and "other" mineral content are certainly legendary, to my satisfaction since I did run out of multivitamins. The flavors are much more grand sounding and always favor combos (like Acai strawberry or lemon blackberry - I'm making these up but they really do these fruity combos). Fuze also has L-Carnitine, so I packed it to Vegas in the hopes of helping with the diet that never was. It probably didn't do much for its cause, but I did learn to save more the next time around, and never ever forget my vitamins again.

All in all, the drinks were superbly enjoyable and quite an adventure on their own. In the midst of a cold weather though, time is best spent dining on real solid food. Warm, crisp and crunchy.

Coming up next are desserts and salad - which should be more gratifying, the very reason why the word "diet" should never exist and why I live to eat. Ciao!

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