Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Unexpected Coffee Break 2

Twice in one week!

On Sunday the haru-ichiban winds were out of control. (Haru-ichiban are very strong, slightly warm gusts of wind said to be the start of spring. Think: Mary Poppins.) They stopped traffic, literally, halting and delaying JR trains all across Tokyo. Of course, as God (or Murphy or Christophe) would only have it, Ninapod and I were scheduled to arrive for luncheon (that was on purpose--a mere lunch? No, this was a *luncheon*) at a long-time family friend and former neighbor's house about an hour away. In fact, this was even a rescheduled luncheon from two weeks prior when a (get this) a snowstorm (in how many years in Tokyo??) intercepted our gathering, icing the roads and even making sure Nina caught a cold.

The journey one-way took just over two hours. As I waited for a train to get ready I ducked into an adjacent Doutour cafe and ordered a matcha latte, my recent drink of choice. The verdict: It is better than Starbucks'. I like lattes scalding hot and this was unexpectedly so, without me asking the barista for it to be. The matcha syrup was not too sweet and the dollop of cream and sprinkle of real matcha powder on top was fun. It was the perfect coffee break for a windy day when everything is unexpected.

Photo: As I waited in line I noticed little bags of dried fruit selling for a few hundred yen.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Power Shortage and an Unexpected Coffee Break

Just as I was tranfering train lines at Iidabashi today, a man's voice announced the electricity had gone out on the trains. Luckily it was a mere 5-10 minutes until the power came back, but unsure of how long I'd be standing waiting and since I was not rushing anywhere I took refuge at a small Starbucks within the station.

I had an iced coffee and a small-ish sandwich, one half filled with a crunchy (cucumber?) potato salad, and the other a slighty soggy-ed shrimp and tomato combination. As is usually the case in Japanese sandwiches, the bread was nothing special.

I always enjoy coffee breaks, all the more if they are unexpected. And I'm also always surprised at how unimpressive food is at Starbucks in Japan, especially considering the plethora of good food available on almost any budget level everywhere else in Japan (except sandwich bread). What's up??