Saturday, November 7, 2009

Yin-Yang Refreshment

Frozen yogurt used to be good, but now it can be great. When I was an undergraduate student at Stanford, getting some fro yo at Tresidder Union was a fun and sweet break from studying. I'd usually get vanilla with M&Ms, not exactly high on the nutrition scale, but something to satisfy my sweet tooth. That fro yo store gave way to other food vendors over the years in its little corner location inside Tresidder. How surprised I was to see that a new frozen yogurt shop has taken up this same spot some twenty-five years later, and even better it's a Fraiche yogurt shop. Score!

Fraiche represents a new wave of freshly made, organic, European-style, probiotic cultured frozen yogurts that taste above and beyond the old sticky, sugary variety. These shops, including Pinkberry and Red Mango, usually offer original tart, chocolate, green tea, and fruit flavors. Toppings go beyond mini M&Ms and jimmies to all kinds of fresh fruits, gourmet chocolate chips and shavings, breakfast cereals, and chewy mochi pieces, which bring me back to the Botan Japanese candy with dissolvable rice paper wrappers I had as a kid.

On my most recent foray to Fraiche in downtown Palo Alto I had the pomegranate frozen yogurt topped with blueberries and olallaberry puree. After a three mile walk around the Stanford Angell Field track, I savored this concoction as my anticipated lunch. To me this yogurt is so good that a regular size with two toppings accompanied by the awesome Blue Bottle coffee transforms my definition of the mid-day meal. The nutritional kick (low or non fat, fruit, calcium, protein) provides further justification for my thinking. There's a method to my madness--maximum flavor and nutrition with a reasonable amount of calories.

The combination of tart, delicately sweet, cool, creamy, fruity frozen yogurt and warm, bittersweet, full-bodied coffee created a delightful combination of flavors, satisfying head, heart, and stomach. It had a yin-yang beauty to it, something simple yet complex, old and new, hot and cold, textures and flavors intermingling, firing up different taste buds all around my tongue. I'm partial to pomegranate, and this frozen yogurt flavor delivers. I always like berry toppings, and the purees pack a more intense flavor that brings me to a state of sublime.

Blue Bottle coffee is an Oakland-based purveyor of some of the finest coffee in the world. You can get it locally at Fraiche, or up in the city at the Ferry Building. They also have a website to order beans directly. I ordered a bag of their Ethiopian Yirgacheffee, rated by one expert panel as some of the finest coffee in the world. It comes from the Ethiopian location where coffee originated. A farmer discovered one of his goats dancing all night and traced its odd behavior to a mysterious bean the goat had been eating the day before.

From the moment our Blue Bottle package arrived to our house to the somewhat sad moment we finished the whole pound of beans less than a week later, the amazing fragrance floated through the air, strongest in our kitchen, wending down the hallways and awakening my senses when my alarm clock went off in the morning. It's definitely my current favorite blend, and made me understand why some call coffee the nectar of the gods. Waking up to a freshly brewed pot of Blue Bottle is the best way to start the day. Coffee has numerous proven health benefits too, another justification and method to my coffee-obsessed madness.

1 comment:

  1. Dang, now you've given me a craving! Just got off the treadmill but not planning to head to Fraiche today--wanna meet tomorrow for lunch?

    Nice column, Suz! :)