Various (i.e., endless) locations
$1.50 (price probably varies from city to city)
I know, right? Starbucks. I’m excited about a cookie from Starbucks. I didn’t expect this either, but to know me is to know that my mind -and mouth - are forever open to possible cookie greatness.
I’m totally not one of those people who walk around moaning about the tragic ubiquity of Starbucks. I don’t really mind Starbucks, to be honest. But the way things play out, I rarely find myself inside of a Starbucks – due simply to the fact that there are so, SO many really excellent local coffee shops in Portland. These are shops roasting their own beans or serving coffee made from locally-roasted beans. Within walking distance from my house I can drink Extracto, Caffe Vita, Stumptown, Heart, Coava – and probably a half-dozen others that I’m not remembering or that I even know about.
What I’m saying is that Portland – the east side of Portland in particular – is LOUSY with great coffee. I realize this is not news. In fact, it is pretty much a cliché at this point, the Portland coffee thing.
And even though there is not a Starbucks within a 3 mile radius of my house (I’m pretty sure), the company has a definite presence in Portland (to say the least). I know several people who refuse to patronize the business, but the truth is that when I’m driving from Portland to Seattle and I really want a cup of coffee, and my options are the “Jitters” kiosk next to Shari’s Restaurant in Kelso, WA., (where the coffee tastes not unlike the smell of the potpourri sachet in my underwear drawer) or driving a little further ito the Starbucks tucked inside of the Safeway on the opposite side of I-5, that familiar green and white sign is a very welcome sight indeed.
No, it’s not Stumptown and it’s not Caffe Vita, but it’s just fine. All things being relative, it’s good coffee.
Okay, so enough about coffee – I’m s’posed to be talkin’ about cookies. And I will. Bear with me.
See, as unopposed to Starbucks coffee as I may be, I have always been troubled by their sad-looking pastries. Why, I think to myself, would anyone waste money and calories on an assembly line, mediocre scone, muffin or cookie when instead they could so easily find a much, much more delicious one at any number of really excellent local bakeries? Besides being lousy with coffee, Portland is also quite lousy with good bakeries – a point I continue to reiterate on this very blog des cookies. One particularly great bakery in a SW Portland strip mall happens to be next door to a Starbucks. And every time I am there and I see someone walking out of the Starbucks carrying a cinnamon roll or scone, I must resist chasing after this poor, misguided soul to berate them for their imprudent and ignorant ways. It especially kills me when I see a person eating this when so easily they could (and should) be eating this.
So, two days ago when my brother told me that the oatmeal raisin cookie at Starbucks is above and beyond and that I should pay it some attention, I was, of course, quite surprised. Being that he is a cookie monster and scout in his own right, I held off skepticism and instead put it right at the top of my cookies-to-try list. And today I did just that. I actually made a rare in-Portland visit to a Starbucks (on 28th and E. Burnside) to capture said acclaimed oatmeal raisin cookie and taste it with my own mouth.
All of the preceding has been a very long-winded lead up to my thesis statement, which is this: Starbucks makes a damn fine oatmeal raisin cookie. It is far above average and indeed noteworthy.
I said it. Because it’s true. To be precise, the cookie contains dark raisins, golden raisins, and dried cranberries. It is soft and chewy and the brown sugar presence is stronger and deeper than most oatmeal cookies around. In fact, brown sugar is listed first amongst the ingredients, followed by real butter, eggs and all the obvious stuff. The only thing in there that I wouldn’t bake into my own cookies is cellulose gum. I don’t even know what cellulose gum is, frankly, but it’s the very last item listed, so I’m not planning to lose any sleep over it. It contains no nuts.
Okay, wait. So I’m now looking at the photos of all the pastries featured on the Starbucks website, and I have to admit that some of them don’t look half bad. Not half bad at all. Like this. Or this. Hmmm…could it be ME who has been imprudent and ignorant? Clearly, I am forced to investigate with further field research. I am simultaneously impressed and discouraged by Starbuck’s comprehensive nutritional/calorie information supplied on their site for every single item that they serve. Kinda takes the joy out of things, but the reality check is probably well-needed.
Perhaps this cookie revelation is an auspicious event, foreshadowing a new year of new cookies* where we least expect them.
*And by “cookies”, I mean people, love, beauty, ideas, songs, stories, puppies, and, of course, actual cookies.