As promised, I will be flogging about my culinary adventures here at Tufts. While I definitely will be cooking, I will also be exploring Boston one bite at a time. On Wednesday, I visited a brand new shop, and here are my humble thoughts…
It seems like just yesterday that cupcakeries were the hottest trend. Now, the gauntlet has been passed to fancy-shmancy frozen yogurt parlors. First, it was Pinkberry and Fraîche, but since then places have started to crop up in urban areas. Hell, even St. Louis has one, and we’re usually the last to pick up on these culinary fads.
As you all know, I am quite the ice cream aficionado, but deep down I’ve got a soft spot for soft serve frogurt. The healthy bacteria and low level of fat keep me from feeling too guilty.
Anyways, Powderhouse square is now home to Spün, a decent froyo place. Powderhouse square doesn’t really have much to offer (other than a Dunkin’ Donuts and a Funeral Home), so it’s nice to see some development. Spün (pronounced spoōn) opened its doors last week, despite a target opening back on August 1st. The two owners purchased the lot back in March; however, they needed to gut and redesign the space.
The set up is pretty bare-bones, but this can probably be associated to the recent (and possibly rushed) opening. Maybe it’s just because I’m a teenage guy, but décor doesn’t make or break a dining experience for me. The most important aspect to any place is the food.
Spün offers only two flavors, one being original, the other changing every day. Today, that rotating flavor was banana. The two men greeted us warmly and offered us a free sample of the banana, which tasted very good. Banana is a hard flavor to get right, so I figured this would be a perfect test. Most banana-flavored goods taste grossly artificial, as if the powers that be arbitrarily created a flavor that would be banana (sort of like what happened to green apple). If you’ve ever had banana laffy taffy, you know what I mean. Luckily, Spün didn’t disappoint. The flavor was subtle, so it didn’t smother the intrinsic tartness of the froyo. And most of all, it tasted like a real banana! I asked how they accomplished the flavor; it was simply purreed ‘nanas blended with the plain variety (all yogurt is made in house). Of course! How obvious! The plain froyo tasted like all the other plain froyo I’ve had, which is a complement. It was creamy, tart and tangy.
The toppings were fresh and tasty, but pretty mundane. At this point, fresh fruit is nothing new; nor are sugar cereals like fruity pebbles. The options included blueberry, mango, pineapple, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, kiwi, granola, toffee, chocolate chunks, fruity pebbles, Captain Crunch, graham crackers, oreos, and granola. Fresh fruit is nice, but they should also try candying some citrus fruits (like kumquats) for a fresh take on things. The froyo was served in cups that didn’t really leave much room for toppings, so the guys resorted to smooshing them into the sides. I found myself having to carefully spoon out my ice cream to avoid spilling. Bigger bowls would be nice.
Another issue was the lack of liquid toppings, or lack thereof. No hot fudge or syrups. More than anything, I was craving some hot blueberry syrup (which is like the simplest thing to make—blueberries, a little sugar and water and lemon juice in a saucepan on medium heat for like twenty minutes) drizzled on top. Or honey–honey would be nice. The owners said that they were a week away from getting liquid toppings ready, so hopefully my wishes will be granted.
I was a little bummed out to see the bags of Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate chunks lying in plain view. I don’t think of myself as a big chocolate snob; the brand wasn’t the problem. But the chocolate chunks seemed too large and proved to be unwieldy. Mini Chocolate chips would be better, I think. Size wasn’t the only problem. Froyo has such a distinctive and bohemian flavor that it deserves an equally unconventional chocolate topping. Plain-Jane Nestlé chunks just don’t do it for me. My friend and I both came to the same conclusion: Taza Chocolate! For those of you that don’t know, Taza chocolate is a local company that makes stone ground chocolate. They make a guajillo chili variety that’s got a great kick to it. We thought that small bits of this chocolate would deliciously contrast with the frogurt. Taza also produces nibs, which are crushed bits of shelled cocoa beans dipped in dark chocolate. They are truly delicious and would kick the shit out of “jimmies” in the flavor department. If Spün is serious about bringing something new to frozen yogurt, here’s their chance. Doing so would not only help support other local businesses, but also greatly enhance their topping selection.
I ended up getting a small swirl of the two flavors with those chocolate chunks and raspberries as toppings. The small was a reasonable $2.75 (the cost of one Kickass cupcake), but the two toppings cost an additional $1.60 (one topping is $1; two, $1.60; three, $2). So it ended up being a little more than $4.00. They also gave me a choice of spoon. In the end I settled for hot pink, but the electric blue was a close second.
Boston is home to about a bajillion ice cream parlors, so the competition is quite fierce. I really do wish Spün the best of luck. I think I’ll visit them again in a month or so, once they get some of the kinks worked out. They have free wifi, so if you have the time to sit and relax, then here’s a nice alternative to Diesel café.
As we scraped the bottom of my bowls, my friends and I made a pact to visit J.P. Licks and Berryline this weekend. By Sunday night, I’ll post my comparison of the three. As always, I’ll keep you posted.