Something you should know about me: I have an affinity for almost any frozen dessert. Ice cream, gelato, custard, yogurt, even those concoctions of questionable chemical origin. If I can scoop it, I’ll probably enjoy it. This is not to say I don’t have discriminating taste – I do – but I believe that for every time and place there is an appropriate and complementary cold confection.
I’m especially spoiled. I live in Park Slope, where I have quick access to some of the most notable scoop shops in the city. If I want ice cream with a clever, textured twist, I go to Ample Hills Creamery. If I want a more refined, ultra-rich cone, I stop by Blue Marble. And if I am aiming for something a little cleaner and just a smidgen healthier, I go to Culture for their tangy homemade frozen yogurt.
Culture is known for serving yogurt, frozen, not frozen yogurt, so you can order either consistency (although I always go for the frozen). Their plain flavor has the sour tartness of Greek yogurt but without the sharpness, and it is noticeably richer and creamier than Pinkberry or Red Mango. In short, the yogurt on its own schools both of the mainstream competitors in terms of quality. Another perk is that you can order a cup of the original, or even one of the daily rotating flavors like Nutella, green tea, or cherry almond, and you would have all of the probiotic health benefits of eating a cup of standard issue, low-fat refrigerated yogurt. Hence the health benefits.
But the real beauty of Culture is that it can be as virutous or decadent as you’d like, thanks to a split focus on high-quaity yogurt and inventive, thoughtful topping combinations. Every cup comes with one basic topping free, items like fresh fruit, chocolate sauce, or sprinkles. But I’ve never been one for simplicity, so I gladly pay the extra dollar for the specialty selections. I’ve never been disappointed.
My most recent experiment: the seasonal strawberry cheesecake topping, piled high on the neutral twist of plain yogurt.
As usual, Culture got it right. The strawberries still tasted distinct and jammy, nothing like the generic “fruit topping” you find on most commercial cheesecake. The cheesecake itself amplified the natural tang of the yogurt, like wearing pink and red in the same outfit. The graham cracker crust, while not particularly buttery, had a mellow warmth from the brown sugar, and it got pleasingly soft but not soggy after a short sit in the yogurt. Another thing I love about Culture is that they make sure to spoon some of the topping into the bottom of the cup before they add the yogurt, so you continue to enjoy the topping even after you finish the first bites. Overall, it tasted like one of the no-bake cheesecakes in cupcake tins you probably made as a kid, except as a much more sophisticated iteration.
Prices are standard, but portions are thankfully generous. This might be heretical, but I find the kids-sized cup with a specialty topping to be the perfect size ($4.58 with tax); filling, satisfying, and small enough that you can almost delude yourself into thinking you had a healthful snack. Almost.