Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Following my taste buds

It’s a war zone out there, especially within such prime real estate where stakes are high and parameters low. Candy colored signs and swirly letters make for prime targets, but Fraiche frozen yogurt in Palo Alto is playing no victim in the frozen yogurt battle. If anything, it acts as commander among the army of baboons. Lounging quietly off of the crowded smorgasbord found on University Ave., Fraiche feigns submission to its enemies on 644 Emerson St. Perhaps it’s a tactic. Aren’t the quiet ones the most dangerous? But, as its French name implies, Fraiche is the much more elegant and refined relative boasting homemade organic fresh yogurt and frozen yogurt in the face of children and wannabes. Yet, although the gourmet version of the “fro-yo” joints teenagers and college students are typically accustomed to, Fraiche maintains a laid-back air. Yellow tables lining the outside invite customers to enjoy the usually tranquil Palo Alto weather while leather booths with small silver tables beckon inside.

Even more beckoning? The menu. Fraiche’s good taste pours out into their product’s flavors. Homemade organic yogurt, frozen yogurt, oatmeal, baked goods, and organic Blue Bottle Coffee from Oakland are written like chalk on an impeccable chalkboard. What makes this café unique is their 99% fat free, lactose-free soy frozen yogurt, which, along with the 98% fat free valrhona chocolate, is among my favorites. However, because it is made fresh without powder, the thickness of the soy has been known to cause issues with the yogurt machine, an issue which happened today but has never before during my visits. The New Orleans style iced coffee, soaked in chicory root for about twenty-four hours, is also a favorite. This, in addition to the yogurt flavors, are what win the war raging only blocks away on University Ave.
            Not only is their food tasty, it's also relatively healthy—a fact highlighted in their chart of benefits. Fraiche uses organic milk and a special probiotic-focused culture as well as fresh fruit. This dynamic, in addition to the richness of their frozen yogurt flavors, brings me back again and again.
 I have never been to the other two locations, located in San Francisco and on the Stanford campus, but the fact that three exist make me think I’m not the only one singing their praises. Fraiche's recent appearance in the Apple cafeteria in Cupertino may serve as another clue to its popularity. Regardless, Fraiche is exactly what its name says: fresh. And, as their website boasts, it is “sinfully delicious and outrageously healthy.” Purple heart for bravery? Perhaps not. But they get my medal of honor.