On the last day of summer I took stock of the season that had passed, going down the list of goals I had set back in June and comparing it with the things I had actually done in the months in between.
I did manage to spend a lot of family time, and I managed to get out of town a couple times. But I did not get as much writing done this summer as I had intended, and one of the things I had meant to write but never got around to was a story on frozen delicacies. It was time to cross one more thing off the list, and I knew just where I wanted to go.
The self-serve frozen yogurt trend that started in California reached the Triad about two years ago, and by now there are maybe a dozen joints in the region where one can make a personal dish of fro-yo and customize the toppings.
Perhaps the best-known outpost for this sort of thing is the chain Red Mango, with a location in Greensboro’s Shops at Friendly Center and another planned for the Palladium in High Point.
Not all fro-yo is created equally, and Red Mango touts the salubrious effects of its fare: all natural, bereft of artificial colors and flavors; laden with calcium and protein; gluten free; and loaded with live, active bacteria cultures — the “friendly” bacteria that take up residence in your digestive tract and aid in breaking down foods and boosting your immune system.
Each Red Mango offers about a dozen flavors of yogurt at any time, which can be served in cups and topped or whipped into smoothies by counter personnel. Samples are free, and as I made my way down the line of flavors — dark chocolate, coconut, mango, pomegranate and amaretto among them, I was struck by the clean flavor and smooth texture. But I was unprepared for how much I would like the original flavor: creamy and tangy vanilla, absolutely the best frozen yogurt I have ever tasted. And I’ll be frank: I don’t even like frozen yogurt all that much.
The buffet of fresh toppings is impressive. Along with every traditional ice-cream topping like sprinkles, cookie crumbles and dough, they have sugar-sweetened cereal, granola, nuts and loads of fresh fruit, but I liked my yogurt so much I didn’t feel the need to besmirch it with toppings, choosing just a few high quality dark chocolate chips. Red Mango charges 45 cents an ounce for its self-serve confections, so going light on the toppings probably saved me about a buck, though it was not an inexpensive visit — more than $5 for my dish of fro-yo, which is more than I would normally spend on this kind of thing.
But it was so good I found myself thinking about it again the next day, and even though summer was officially over by then, I made my way out for more frozen yogurt. This time I chose an independently owned shop a little closer to my office. On the surface everything looked similar at this the place, with maybe a few less flavors and toppings, but a slightly lower price point. But here’s the thing: It wasn’t as good — not as tangy, not as creamy, not as loaded with acidophilus as the Red Mango stuff. It wasn’t even close.
I won’t be back to this other place, but I’ll be going back to Red Mango until the weather fully turns.
Red Mango The Shops at Friendly Center 3354 W. Friendly Ave., Greensboro