I discovered yogurt back when I was a senior in high school. Until then, I had absolutely no interest in it. That’s probably because of the name.
Yogurt. Yogurt. Say it a few times. Disgusting sounding, innit? Honestly, it may just be a quirk of the way my brain parses English words, but to me, “toe cheese” sounds more appetizing.
It’s just a wacky word, yogurt is. Like “squamous.” Or “rutabaga.”
But back then, in the fall of 1969, I somehow managed to overcome my revulsion at its moniker, and I tasted of the Yogurt-Cup. And I found it good.
In those days, there was one brand of yogurt on the stupidmarket shelf: Dannon. And it was the kind that came with fruit-goop on the bottom of the container, which you’d stir into the yogurt before eating. You needed the fruit-goop, because Dannon yogurt was (and is) somewhat sour and astringent... as you would expect something called “yogurt” to be.
Frozen yogurt was not yet a gleam in anyone’s eye.
I developed a jones for one flavor in particular: Prune Whip. That’s right - Dannon used to make yogurt that had lekvar - prune jam - in the bottom of the cup. It was the ideal flavor to pair up with that tart yogurt.
Alas, neither Dannon nor anyone else still makes prune yogurt. I suppose I could make my own by doctoring plain yogurt with a slug of lekvar, but I suspect this is one of those things where what lives in my memory is better that the reality. Best to leave it there.
I still enjoy yogurt now and again, but I’ve forsworn most supermarket yogurt brands on account of their high sugar content and calorie load, their use of high fructose corn syrup, and their low amounts of protein. Greek yogurt - something that has exploded in popularity over the last couple of years - is an exception: plenty of protein, nice thick texture, and I can fix it up with fresh berries or whatever else I care to stuff into it. It’s a staple of the Missus’s diet these days.
But this might just be the honkin’ best yogurt I’ve ever put in my face: the yogurt made by Atlanta Fresh Artisan Creamery.
Sure, I know “Artisan” is a nice way of saying “Way Too Fucking Expensive,” but these guys are local, they use locally-sourced ingredients, and their stuff is way too good to ignore. The only place I’ve found it is at Harry’s (a subsidiary of Whole Paycheck Foods), a place you’ve frequently seen on Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” even if you’ve never actually been there. I understand you can also get it at Star Provisions too... but I’ll shop there only when I’m looking for exotica like whole duck livers. (They’re proud of their merchandise there at Star Provisions, I’ll tell you that.)
Anyway, I was hooked like Marion Barry on crack once I tasted this:
Tropical Sweet Heat - yogurt with pineapple, mango, and habanero peppers. Sounds scary, but there’s just enough of a burn to bring the fruit flavors to vibrant life. Yowza!
They also have a peach-ginger flavor that has sufficient ginger to give the peach a solid kick in the ass... and something called “Chocolate Rocket” that is almost so good as to beggar description. (Think chocolate, cinnamon, and ancho chile.) It’s every bit as satisfying as a dish full of ice cream - but not quite as many calories.
If you can find this stuff, get it! Otherwise, eat your heart out.
Update: I actually went to the Atlanta Fresh factory store in order to stock up on a few of my favorite Greek yogurt flavors. The store was manned by a very pleasant young fellow, one Andrew Marks, who happened to be the son of Ron Marks, the company’s founder and Big Cheese (so says his business card). Andrew was gracious enough to offer up a slice of the company’s fine alderwood smoked mozzarella... and a free cup of yogurty goodness. When I observed that the last container of Tropical Sweet Heat yogurt I had had carried a noticeably higher capsaicin wallop, he (and a coworker) confirmed that they had recently adjusted the recipe to goose the heat level up a notch. Hooray!
Next time, maybe I’ll think to ask for a tour of the facilities...