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I solicited the help of colleague and food historian, Joel Denker, who had written a section in his book, World on a Plate, about the evolution of (non-frozen) yogurt. Together, we hauled our asses out west to the metro area’s first Pinkberry store, which recently opened deep within the pre-fabulousness of Fairfax Corner.
We were about to break our Pinkberry cherry.
The space sports the same modernist Asian chic as earlier Pinkberry stores and, best of all, offers cool little sample cups of the various flavors available, some of which change with the seasons. After a few samples, I went with the original Pinkberry (or the new original Pinkberry, as the case may be), which the young woman behind the counter told me was made with non-fat milk and non-fat yogurt. I reviewed the many toppings spread out before me, trying to decide what would work best with the flavor and texture of my fro-yo. I went with mixed nuts, fresh sliced strawberries, and “dark chocolate crisps,” which are sort of like BB-sized Whoppers.
Given the pronounced tartness of the yogurt, I was slightly mystified by the addition of non-fat milk into the recipe, which would, I presume, mellow the sharpness of the cultured yogurt. But Joel and I were equally impressed with the yogurt’s texture. As Joel noted after a few spoonfuls of his mango fro-yo, the yogurt has surprising body for a product without milk fats. Could there by emulsifiers added to the mix to help create this texture?
To be honest, I missed the creaminess of a yogurt made with whole milk. There was a small but palpable sense of iciness to the original Pinkberry, despite its full-bodied texture. It wasn’t an unpleasant iciness, but in retrospect, as I think back on my first cup of Pinkberry, it feels more like a fro-yo spliced with a few genes from a Slushie.