Saturday, October 16, 2010

October 16th

October 16th.  Do you know what is noteworthy about today?  Take a guess.  Go ahead.  Try.  

[Apparently it is the first, official day they start selling eggnog in the grocery stores.  (Or at least in Austin.)  I know this because I found  I realize that alone doesn't prove anything, however, having discovered in the past year or two that they start selling eggnog in October, I've been keeping an eye out for it and with 3 kids I swear I go to the grocery store nearly every day.  (And I definitely went yesterday as well as Thursday and there was nary an Eggnog in sight.  Trust me, I tried to will it into existence right there on the spot.  Twice.)  Still unconvinced?  How 'bout this:  I started this blog entry last October and then was overcome-by-events so that by the time I could get back to it, it was too late to be accurate.  So, yes, I saved it for an entire year, anticipating today.  Vivi and I were at HEB this afternoon when to my delight I spotted a modest row of eggnog jugs in the sea of milk, waiting hopefully for someone to take them home, despite the insanely early time frame, given that most people only seem to be interested in drinking nog at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Luckily for them, there are people like me.  Okay, well, maybe there's just me, I don't know.  Bringing one home, I safely stashed it in the fridge, awaiting the quiet, uninterrupted, ideal moment that I could fix myself my inaugural Chai Eggnog Latte.  (Cheggnog in Starbucks parlance.)  Six hours later, I sat down to my MacBook Pro in the semi-dark solitude of a quiet-but-for-my-mellow-music house and pulled up last year's in-progress entry.  The date listed on that post...October 16th.  Freaky, yes? ]

Oh my.  That first sweet, nutmeggy waft. 

Its creamy warmth caressing my lips as it slips between them.  Its heavenly richness, almost a buttery toffee flavor, tantalizing my tongue as I savor the liquid before swallowing.  (I realize I sound just a tad obsessive.  It's just enthusiasm.  Really.)  My very favorite chai all year long:  the first Chai Eggnog Latte of the season.  Which leads to another obsession enthusiastic passion of mine...Halloween.  (Let's see, are the requisite signs present?  Elaborate costume requiring items ordered from at least 3 different online companies. Check.  My house extravagantly decorated to the point that Rand has started saying it looks like a Halloween store.  But the world's classiest Halloween store, right, Honey!?  Check.  My kitchen counter attempting to hide stashes of spiderweb cupcake papers, black string licorice, tiny candy eyes, brain ice cube molds, and various other interesting food-related items of the season.  Check.)  My stress level is revved up way beyond my normal type-A-ness into holiday-overdrive-mode, which of course, starts on or before October 1st when your fall/winter holiday season kicks off by hosting a huge costume party.  But I digress.

I can't decide if Starbucks is my favorite treat or my worst vice.  I didn't drink any caffeinated beverages until an old friend of mine introduced me to an iced chai latte about 10 years ago... and then there was no going back.  Starbucks enables the "high maintenance" mentality of the Sally Albrights of the world, of which I am most assuredly one.  But it took me a little time to become an expert in HMBO (High Maintenance Beverage Ordering).  First, I just ordered a Chai Latte.  I soon realized I could request nonfat.  Then, I discovered that certain locations add water [the horror!] to their chai mix + milk recipe so I started adding the "No Water".  I finally got tired of tepid teas two minutes out the door so I learned to ask for "Extra Hot".   My regular order (not on a daily basis, but a couple times a week) became Grande Nonfat Chai Latte Extra Hot, No Water.  Hence my blog name.  Funny thing is, that is no longer quite accurate.  (I'm so high maintenance, I've moved into another tier; you might call it Extreme Maintenance or possibly Ultimate Maintenance?)  I became frustrated ordering my Extra Hot, No Water only to find that it wasn't particularly hot, let alone extra!  So, being the chatty woman that I am, I asked one of the chummier baristas that I know and who always makes my chai appropriately Extra Hot -- and by that I mean, if I'm not ever-vigilant taking my first sip, I scald either the tip of my tongue or the roof of my mouth  (which I manage to do about every other week, on average.) -- about the Extra Hot modifier.  He informed me that EH is supposed to be 180 degrees and that the normal beverage temperature is 160 but that often times if baristas are in a hurry and because they are starting with the colder chai mix + milk, they tend to underheat it.  Plus, frankly, "Extra" anything is subjective as it's based on the normal standard.  (161 degrees could, technically, be considered Extra Hot.) In short, he said I should be ordering my chai as 180 degrees specifically.  I'm actually tempted to order it slightly higher, say 185-190, as it's still not always quite hot enough but I realize I'm edging toward the Freak side with a capital F when I say that.  Not that I mind publicly flying my Freak Flag, I just don't need to scream and yell as I wave it. 

My new-and-improved standard is:  Grande Nonfat Chai Latte, No Water, 180 Degrees.  It doesn't roll off the tongue nearly as well, does it?  Initially, I fretted that my blog name was now outdated, but then I realized it's perfect.  It's very obsoleteness is a symbol of my constantly-evolving desire to make everything just so.  Besides, If I tried to redo everything I ever realized was not-quite-perfect, I'd never work on anything new.  (And then I'd have to rename my blog Revisionista.)