Nothing But Good: Or the Time I Ate My Face Off at Chobani Soho
Posted Aug 10 2012 7:14am
Dear Chobani Soho,
Thank you dearly for so graciously allowing me to crash your yogurt and fine ingredient pairing on Wednesday night. If it weren’t for you, I’d have gone to yoga, walked home, and lamented my mysterious aching leg . Instead, I met up with 3 incredibly pretty runners (Ashley from Running Bun , Kristin from Shore to Run , and Beth from Put Up Your Blog Already), got my ass whooped in knocking back a glass of wine (I really thought I was a fast drinker up until that point), and tasted dairy-filled fusions like cows were going out of style.
Today is day 3 out of 3 of operation keep Stacy off her feet, and to be honest, I’ve kept myself so busy with fun things like overcrowded yoga classes, yogurt tastings, BYOB dinners and solo living room workouts that I haven’t really had the time to put on a sour face. If I can make it to the weekend without running and, fingers crossed, wake up on Saturday morning without any pain in my leg, then maybe – just maybe – I’ll allow myself a short morning outing in Central Park. Until then, I’ll just gush about yogurt, yogurt and more yogurt.
The first thing I should probably address is where my penchants lie. As a health and wellness writer/editor , I tend to see both sides of the dairy argument on a constant basis; and whereas some dietitians tout the benefits of whole milk, and others suggest skim and non-fat only, still others recommend against breathing within a 20-mile radius of anything squeezed out of an udder (sorry for the visual, but not).
As for me, I probably consume dairy in some form on a daily basis, but thanks to my sensitive Jewish stomach, just never in large quantities at any given time. For personal health-conscious reasons, I reach for the skim when dressing my coffee; when stirring cereal into my yogurt, I often prefer 0%. In general, I’m a lover of all ingredients in moderation. Except cilantro. I hate cilantro.
Living in the heart of New York City, I am surrounded by dairy-laden storefronts no matter where I turn. There’s Pinkberry, there’s Red Mango, there’s 16 Handles—none of which I actually like. As I said, my stomach is really sensitive to dairy, and while I do love my skim milk in the morning and the occasional plate of fromage, I also know that an extra large portion of frozen yogurt will wreak havoc on my tummy, and so I tend to stick to dairy-free dessert options like Soft Serve Fruit Co. (my favorite!) and (certain dairy-free items at) Ralph’s.
Chobani’s reasonable portion sizes and their attention to flavorful details, not to mention their practical price point of $3.75 – nearly half of what I’d spend on a trendy fro-yo tub elsewhere – immediately drew me to their Flagship store, nestled in Soho on the corner of West Broadway and Prince. (If you’re in the area around happy hour, I highly recommend stopping into Peep down the block for a super-cheap cocktail and a “peep” into their top-rated bathroom. You’ll see what I mean when you get there.)
You can tell from the moment you walk into the small, intimate space that Chobani’s Soho locale was designed with the consumer’s experience in mind, from their fresh fruit reserves to the exposed kitchen to the jars of fresh honey and olive oil that line the warm, wooden walls. As you can imagine, the yogurt “creations,” as the brand calls them, are equally detailed, each one boasting hand-selected, artisanal ingredients both simple and extravagant at once.
Wednesday’s tasting extravaganza afforded us the opportunity to try spoonfuls of delicious, “purposeful” flavors and — get this — fresh, homemade yogurt (no, not fro-yo) made right there on the premises. Over the course of the evening, we were served a total of 9 homemade blends of sweet and savory mixtures, each one tastier than the one before.
Pistachio + Chocolate
Ingredients: Pistachios, dark chocolate, honey, oranges and mint leaves
Running Commentary: Love, love, love. The orange and mint leaves offered an incredibly fresh contrast against the earthy pistachios and rich dark chocolate flavors. Add in the honey, and you’re basically looking at crack on a spoon.
Blueberry + Power
Ingredients: Blueberries, chia seeds, hemp, walnuts and light agave
Running Commentary: I can imagine eating this before or after a run. Between the chia seeds and hemp, this was a serious bowl of ass-kicking, hill-climbing power.
Seasonal Fruit + Granola
Ingredients: Strawberries, granola and honey
Running Commentary: If there were a Chobani store in Union Square closer to my office, I might eat this for breakfast every day of my life forever.
Toasted Coconut + Pineapple
Ingredients: Pineapple, toasted coconut, hazelnuts and light agave
Running Commentary: Toasted coconut is one of my favorite ingredients, so I was definitely partial to this crunchy tropical topping. While pineapple isn’t my favorite, when combined with the hazelnuts and agave, it collectively tasted like pinacolada on a spoon. So that was cool.
Fig + Walnut
Ingredients: Turkish figs, walnuts and honey
Running Commentary: This traditional combination of Mediterranean flavors drew me in immediately. I could totally see this as being a perfect afternoon snack at work.
Peanut Butter + Jelly
Ingredients: Peanut butter, jelly, grapes and peanuts
Running Commentary: No comment. This one was so good there are no words.
Plain Chobani + Olive Oil
Ingredients: Extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, served with pita chips
Running Commentary: Totally plain, and yet, thanks to the impeccable flavor of the olive oil, totally delicious. I plan on stealing this simple recipe and serving it to anyone who comes over to my apartment. You’re welcome, future guests.
Plain Chobani + Cucumbers
Ingredients: Cucumbers, mint and salt, served with pita chips
Running Commentary: I’d love to use this as a side dish with dinner one night. I could even imagine serving a dollop of it atop one of my Mediterranean salad concoctions , and nixing the chips.
Plain Chobani + Honey
Ingredients: Served with pita chips
Running Commentary: Add apples to it, and you’ve got a Rosh Hashana party in your mouth. Basic, pure and delicious. Nothing more, nothing less.
By the end of the tasting, and after trying to shovel the last drops of the peanut butter and jelly mixture into my gaping mouth, I was obviously singing Chobani’s praises. All in all, they did a wonderful job with the launch of their Flagship store, and I can’t wait to not only stop in the next time I’m in the area but to try making some of these clever concoctions on my own.
Many of the flavors – and actually, the entire experience – brought me back to my west coast wine tasting tour , specifically to a tasting room in Healdsburg called Williamson Wines. There, Noah and I embarked on an explosively flavorful journey of wine and cheese heaven, and not since that day have I really appreciated a combination of unadulterated ingredients so thoroughly.
So thanks, Chobani, for bringing me back while introducing me to something innovative and new that doesn’t involve zero calories and will actually make me stronger. And also for the complementary bag of hazelnuts so I can make my own half-assed version of your creations at home.