Here we go again. How come we are celebrating such a delightfully refreshing treat as frozen yogurt in the cold grasp of February? Really? We couldn’t clear some time in July or August to make this a party? So it goes, but once again I am bewildered by the randomness of these special days. Truth be told, I can enjoy ice cream or frozen yogurt at anytime. Even as a breakfast dessert.
Yogurt dates back nearly 4,000 years where it was consumed throughout the Middle East and India. With the advent of refrigeration and packaging techniques, the Dannon company started selling prepackaged yogurt in the 1930s. As that took off, more and more people began eating yogurt. Then in the 1970’s when there was a surge of people eating ice cream, manufacturers came up with a way to freeze the yogurt as an ice cream alternative, however they never got the taste exactly right. It wasn’t until 1981 when TCBY (This Can’t Be Yogurt) began opening shops when the country started appreciating frozen yogurt. TCBY created a delivery system through a soft-serve process which gave the frozen treat an airiness that people liked. Furthermore, many saw it as the healthy alternative to ice cream. TCBY shops started popping up everywhere, as did their main competitor, I Can’t Believe it’s Yogurt! Apparently there were a lot of doubters in the yogurt business. TCBY eventually changed their initials to mean The Country’s Best Yogurt to avoid a lawsuit over their original name. Yogurt stores were everywhere back then. And then they weren’t. The fad was over before the end of the nineties.
In the mid 2000’s, that started to change again thanks to some innovation. A company in California called Yogurtland started a self-serve frozen yogurt concept that allowed you to pour your own frozen yogurt and to mix in the toppings of your choice. You would pay based on how much your creation weighed. This was a novel idea and took off. That’s when frozen yogurt started to come back strong, popping up everywhere. That made way for the phenomenon of Pinkberry, who brought the concept to high end shopping areas. I’ve never had it, but people sure go crazy for it. Then there is Pinkberry’s third cousin Orange Leaf which seems to be popping up more and more these days. Frozen Yogurt is back. For now.
We started our day waking up in New York City. We were both feeling little tinges of being hungover. Nothing too bad, but just that restless feeling of having had beers the night before after a long day of travel, city walking and restless hotel sleeping. At about 10 am, after we were all showered, we left the hotel and decided to walk around to get some breakfast and maybe checkout what was happening in the city. We were on the East side (on 1st Avenue), so we headed West towards the park which is always a good place to walk towards. We ended up finding a spot near Park Avenue. It was called the Corner or the Kitchen or some other kind of unspecific name, but it was serving breakfast and coffee and it looked good. I opted for an omelette and Lola had a breakfast sandwich. It was kind of the typical New York type breakfast/lunch spot. You order at the counter then find your own table. The place is filled with a random array of patrons (mothers and daughters, older ladies, police officers eating, old gentleman reading the papers). The food comes out faster than you think, and its usually good. Mine was excellent. We ate up and talked about the night before and how much fun it was. We started thinking about where to go next. We wanted to leave the city by 2 pm the latest to avoid traffic, so that gave us a few hours to roam. That’s what we like to do in NYC – roam. Because it wasn’t enough time to really check out a museum or other such venue, we decided to just take a walk through the park. We cleared our plates and got ready to leave. That’s when I noticed that the restaurant served Frozen Yogurt. They had four machines offering eight flavors and an area to add in your toppings. I asked the woman at the counter if they were serving frozen yogurt (it was only 11 am), and they were. So I got myself a small cup of espresso flavored frozen yogurt (no toppings – I’m a purist) to take with me on our walk in the park as my breakfast dessert.
I like frozen yogurt. I like ice cream more, but frozen yogurt isn’t bad. It has a little bit of a grainy texture to it and a tartness that subtly tells your palette this is not ice cream. Still good though. Espresso flavored is very good. I think I was the only one we saw in the park that was eating frozen yogurt. It wasn’t that cold out. Probably in the low 40’s, but warmer in the sun. Plus when you are walking, you warm up pretty fast. I had gloves on so the coldness of the yogurt didn’t get to my fingers. But it was a good treat. I think this breakfast dessert idea will catch on, or at least I hope it will.
It was actually a gorgeous day to walk around New York City. It was quiet (as you would expect on a Monday morning) but bustling with activity as normal. We walked through the park at a nice leisurely pace. We were trying to happen upon the spot where we got engaged almost ten years ago. It was near Bow Bridge which is a pretty popular spot in the park. We could have looked for it on a map, but we just wanted to roam and see if we just came upon it. We didn’t, but it reminded us of that day. It was kind of similar weather wise. Cold, but sunny. We eventually popped out on the west side of the park near the Museum of Natural History. We didn’t have the time to go in there, but we did realize we were near a store we have always wanted to check out: Zabar’s. It was just two blocks away, so we made our pilgrimage there.
Zabar’s is a pretty famous Jewish deli and food store that’s been around for years. We have ordered through the mail from them before and stocked up on fresh bagels, lox, pastrami, rugelach and all kinds of special foods. We get their catalogs now and every time it comes in, we drool over all they have to offer. It’s a two story building that spans almost the whole block. You walk in to a giant cheese section with a counter full of all types of cheese and olives. You turn the corner and you are in the deli section with a wall of deli meat that they will slice and prepare to order alongside a section of pre-made dishes like knishes and soups. Just beyond that is the fresh seafood section where they are slicing lox paper thin to order. There’s a bakery section with fresh baked bagels and all kinds of sweet smelling breads and treats, and then there’s a coffee section with fresh roasted beans in giant barrels being ground to order. Upstairs is filled with every household kitchen ware you could ever need, from Le Cruiset pots to tiny strawberry hullers. It’s a mecca for any kitchen enthusiast. We spent about an hour in there pacing the aisles. It can be kind of intimidating, but just soaking it all in was worth it. We bought a few things, conscious that we had a four hour trip ahead of us (that eliminated us buying lox), but satisfied with having just finally experienced the magic. What a place.
We hoofed back across town which took us about 45 minutes. Still, it was a beautiful day to be walking the city. When we got back to the hotel, we were sore from walking and tired from it all, but happy we took the time. We left the city right on schedule and sadly said goodby until next time. New York is always a little magic to us. It’s part of Lola and I. I was born there. Lola’s parents met there. Lola lived there for a a year while we were courting. We have seen great shows there. We got engaged there. And now, we had our first Frozen Yogurt in the park there. That’s worth celebration. I only wish they had a parade for the occasion. That’s ok, we made our own.
Next Up: National Fettuccini Alfredo Day