In Which There are Two Smooth and Icy New Sippers…

Le frappe avec durian

Considering how we’re nearing the end of October, it depresses me to no end that the weather in my neck of the woods continues to be scorching hot – as bad as summer, really – leaving smoking tempers in its wake, a covey of throats parched beyond endurance.  Which is why, thank goodness, some of my favorite nosh-stops have new sippers to help beat the unseasonable heat.

Cafe France, in particular, pays homage to the durian – that controversial Roi des Fruits [King of Fruits] this season through its simply named Durian Frappe.

Now, seriously: durian is one of those things that you either love to death or loathe worse than the Plague.  Its distinctly pungent aroma in its raw state turns off even some of the bravest gourmets and gourmands, but it rewards those who brave the smell with rich-tasting flesh that tastes like a heavenly amalgam of roasted almonds, custard, and cream cheese.

At Cafe France, you don’t have to deal with the smell as the fruit is processed down into a puree, then blended with milk and ice into a smooth, refreshing, distinctly-flavored beverage.  It’s quite thick and, consequently, is rather rich – but, strangely enough, it actually gives you an energy boost when you feel that the damned heat has pretty much sapped you dry.

It may not be to everyone’s tastes, but it sure has my vote.

The salted caramel mocha frappucino

In contrast, there’s Starbucks‘ new salted caramel mocha which appears as a straight-up espresso-based drink and as an ice-blended frappe.

Considering how I’m something of a fan of salted caramel, I regret to admit the truth: I was brutally disappointed.

This is how Starbucks describes its salted caramel mocha frap:

Mocha sauce and toffee nut syrup blended with coffee, milk and ice. Topped with sweetened whipped cream, caramel sauce and a mixture of turbinado sugar and sea salt.

The grim reality?  I could barely taste the coffee; heck, I couldn’t even discern the individual nuances of coffee and chocolate that so characterize any good mocha!  It was all drowned under – completely and utterly awash – in the taste of caramel.  Now, if Starbucks had stayed true to its blurb, there should also have been a hint of saltiness – an almost buttery one, as a matter of fact – to provide sharp contrast and some relief from the throat-catching sweetness of the syrup.  Sadly, though, I couldn’t taste any salt at all!

I am not sure if the whole salted caramel schlock would work better in a hot drink, but one taste of it is enough; it’s not worth repeating in any form.

So, the rest of you can cool down with that vile tumblerful of cloying sweetness that tries to pass itself off as coffee.  If I wanted a caramel-enriched Starbucks drink, I’d stick to the classic caramel macchiato and not mess with this new monstrosity.

What’s keeping your throats cool these days?