Monday, January 23, 2006

Espresso con panna

On Saturday, after I caught a film noir picture up at the AFI, I stopped by Union Station and decided to get some coffee and a sweet. I went to the dread Starbucks and the line was mercifully short. I ordered a solo Espresso con Panna. When I got to the register, I told the young lady what I ordered and she said, "What?"

"Espresso con panna."


"It's on the board," I pointed, "right under 'Espresso Macchiato.'"

"Oh. Yeah, I see it." She punched the amount into the register. "What is it?"

"What is it?" I repeated.

"Yeah, what's in it? I never heard of it before."

"Oh. Well, 'panna' means 'cream' in Italian."


"Yeah. So, it's, um, some espresso with a little whipped cream on top."

"Oh. Huh." And she handed me my change.

When the drink came out, it wasn't what I'd expected. Traditionally, the drink would be made with a "dollop" of whipped cream. Instead, the entire eight-ounce cup (the elusive "short" size) was filled to almost overflowing with whipped cream. No kidding. The espresso was almost inaccessible under the thick layer of fresh whipped cream. There was enough in there for four or fiver regular sized dollops. Lord love the incompetence of the current crop of Starbucks baristas.

On another Starbucks related note, I've started ordering their "espresso macchiato" as my regular drink. It's what I think a cappuccino should be: all milk foam and no steamed milk in an eight-ounce cup. And the two-shot version is only $2.04 (after tax in DC). However, the macchiatos vary from branch to branch. The one I ordered today contained quite a bit of steamed milk. Even so, it still had more foam than I've ever gotten in a cappuccino in a DC Starbucks. I can live with it. (Note: do not confuse the "espresso macchiato" with the "caramel macchiato." The caramel macchiato is very, very sweet and is full of steamed milk. It is also quite tasty.)

For a discussion of the economics of the short size option at Starbucks, take a look at SomeGuyInDC today.

Also, please take a look at the new "parent-safe" movie review/discussion site I started this weekend. Tell me what you think. I'm still fine-tuning and I'm open to suggestions.

Grateful for: the espresso macchiato--short.

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