Stonyfield Cafe

I am someone who not just likes yogurt; I love it.  But when it comes to Stonyfield Farm, it’s more honest to describe my feelings as LOVE (all caps).  It’s been a passionate affair, me and SF.  In the beginning it was honeymoon hot.  We’d rendezvous daily – on average, 12 oz. – sometimes more.  Over the ensuing months, I started noticing others.. but still. SF remained first in my heart.  Back in 2008, when I won a Stonyfield Recipe of the Month contest, I thought I’d reached the pinnacle of yogurt pleasure.  Until, that is, we moved to Maine and I was finally afforded an in-person visit to the very birthplace of my beloved, Stonyfield Farm’s Yogurt Works.  Perhaps that face-to-face meeting was the turning point.  I always knew how much I loved him, but I never dreamt he felt the same way about ME.  Now.  I know it’s true.

Weeks ago I was in the throes of Dress Quest 2010.  I’d driven north to check out a chi-chi shoppe, when suddenly I saw concrete (or maybe aluminum siding) proof that SF LOVES ME JUST AS MUCH AS I LOVE HIM!

WHOOMP!! THERE IT IS!!!!!!

Tucked into an upscale strip mall just north of Portland in the town of Falmouth, Maine, is MY BOYFRIEND the restaurant to top all others.  The one, the only, Stonyfield Café. When first I spied his distinctive blue & yellow sign, I simply couldn’t believe my eyes.  You know when you reaaaaaaalllly reeeeeallllly like someone, and you search for them wherever you go, just hoping to catch a glimpse?  Well, this first meeting felt exactly like that.  But BETTER.  I was (as I said) embroiled in Dress Quest 2010, just a few frocks short of institutionalization.  My sanity was hanging on a dime.  I blinked once, I blinked twice.  But three blinks later, SF was still there.  (That guy above w/ the chairs wasn’t there yet.  Or he might have noticed my SHEER UNBRIDLED DISBELIEF.)  I floored it into the ample parking lot, hustled my kids from the car and literally HOOFED IT into the restaurant.  (For fear it would disappear before I got in.)

Once inside, I gazed in wonder at the beauty of his form..

Despite my daughters’ cool exteriors, I was a jangle of nervous palpitations.  OOOoHhhHhhHHHHH!!!  Good thing SF already loves me more than any other girl on the face of the planet (don’t be jealous) AND knows how to be forceful when necessary!  We dutifully took our place in the queue.

Here we are, self-seated and ready to tuck in.  The girls got Mac & Cheese kids meals w/ homemade flatbread – baked right there in SF’s MIGHTY BRICK OVEN.

Just looking at it made me HOT ALL OVER!

Phew!  So warm in here.. I opted for something lighter to help cool me down.  A Balsamic Cran Salad – no “extra protein” necessary.  With a Chocolate Underground yogurt, for afters, of course.

The first bite.  And the verdict is……???

MMmmMmmmmm!  SF is GOOOOOOD.  So good in fact that we inhaled our lunch in mere minutes.  (Pardon me.)

I didn’t want to embarrass anybody by licking my plate like an animal, but I would have, if only SF and I had been ALONE.  (grrooowwwwlll)

NEXT. Time to freshen up!  OOOooh SF, I’ll ALWAYS be your GAL!

Afterward I noticed how wonderful SF is – providing ample seating for a larger family, as well as free comfy space for community groups to gather.  That is just so thoughtful!  (Stud.)

And then. it truly was goodbye.  SF begged me to share a glass (or three) of organic wine with him, or splurge on some frozen yogurt for the kids.  But it was still early, and the girls were full.  So with that we parted ways.  But not for long.  Be seeing you soon, SF!  Try not to miss me too much.  xo

It’s Official. I am a yogurt groupie.

Readers of this blog have long known of my love affair w/ a certain yogurt.  WELL.  This past Friday, I just so happened to be in New Hampshire.  Although time was tight (my kids were due home from school), and I knew I’d have mere minutes to gaze in wonder upon Stonyfield Farm, I was NOT GOING TO MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY.  I could not, would not, return to Maine without making the pilgrimage to the mecca of organic yogurt.  So I drove south, speeding all the way – through Manchester, past the mall, round the airport, to a most unexpected sight.

WOWZA!  There I was – two minutes away from Stonyfield Farm – and a plane was nearly landing on my car.  Hmm..  Not quite the idyllic setting I’d imagined.

Picture this.  You’ve been “dating” a guy online for a while.  He looks good and sounds even better.  You’re ready to make that face-to-face plunge.  So you schedule to meet someplace, only when you arrive – you can’t find him anywhere.   Eventually another guy meanders over and sheepishly explains that HE is your guy.  You see.  He fudged his photo.

When I arrived at Stonyfield Farm Yogurt Works I felt very much like that.  Why?  B/c I had pictured Stonyfield Farm looking like the scene on its label.  Pastures, animals, manure.

Instead I got:

This is Stonyfield Farm.

Contrary to the pastoral scene on the front of each and every one of its recyclable cups, Stonyfield is actually born in an industrial park.  Where there are no real cows.  A good thing, too, because there was barely any grass.  The Yogurt Works is a factory.  A large but otherwise nondescript building located in an office park behind the Manchester Airport.

I should have anticipated this.  Right?  I mean, how else can Stonyfield mass produce the best selling organic yogurt on the face of the planet?  By hand, in a barn?  Still – I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t let down.  By the way, they no longer give tours.

They do have an 11-minute video.  Which is cute.  And informative.  But as a true groupie, it just wasn’t enough.  How long is the yogurt left in the incubator? The cool-down tunnels?  How many HONKIN CUPS are stored on all those pallets?  I wanted more.  Much more.  And when I got home I realized something else.  The woman at the Stonyfield Farm Yogurt Works Gift Shop (although pleasant) actually overcharged me by F-I-V-E whole D-O-L-L-A-R-S.  My t-shirt was on sale.  It was clearly marked.  ??!!  I should have been paying more attention.

And speaking of attention.  I just noticed something else.  If you look closely at that enormous Yogurt Cup above (yes, I will wait for you to scroll up & back down…) you will see that it says STONYFIELD – BUT. It no longer says Farm.  Stonyfield.  But no – Farm.

The old Stonyfield Farm logo had the word farm.  I know this b/c earlier that day I’d been at the New Hampshire Historical Society.

And back when I did the Yogurt Taste-off, the cups still said Farm.

But in 2009, Stonyfield changed its logo.  I knew all about this b/c as a true groupie, I belong to the online MyStonyfield website.  I’d been asked for my opinion by the marketing group responsible for the Stonyfield makeover.  (Note: they didn’t pick my first choice of logos – which looked more like their old logo – but that’s o-kay.  I am not bitter and still love Stonyfield as much as ever.)  I of course noted when the new cups came out.  Being a yogurt groupie, one tends to notice these things.  Unfortunately, I must be love blind b/c until this very moment I failed to notice they’d removed the word FARM altogether.  Strange but true.

The new logo is pretty.  It’s fresh, and new.  Not as good as my first choice, of course, but lovely all the same.  I read an online appraisal of this change.  People seem divided as to the aesthetic, but I’m happy to see most people are still united as to what’s inside.  Stonyfield Farm yogurt is Good.  And really, that’s what counts.  Right?  So I will leave you with a photo of me in my new tee shirt.  Which I love even though I paid $5 more for it than I should have.

Once a groupie, always a groupie.

THE GREAT YOGURT TASTE OFF!

yogurttasteoff1

Yogurt. The stuff of legend. Well.. maybe not, but to me.. yogurt is T-RRIFIC. This weekend while visiting w/ my sister and her FABBBULOUS new boyfriend, we got to talking about yogurt. And I finally decided to do something I’ve always wanted to do. NAMELY, hold my very own taste test… of YOGURT!  YAY!!!!!!!!!!

I eat enough of the stuff to support at least one company in the style to which they’ve become accustomed.  (I am talking to YOU Stonyfield.)  BUT why limit myself?  I am a woman of adventure, of daring, of DAIRY!  There are dozens of yogurts out there on the market, just waiting to be sampled.

Thinking about all that yummy delicious yogurt makes my mouth water…. but how to compare a peach whole milk to a soy caramel latte to a goat’s milk key lime pie?? In order to maintain fairness and accuracy in this TASTE OFF! I would have to set restrictions. BEHOLD the 3 Basic Criteria for Eligibility:

  • VANILLA yogurt only;
  • made of NON FAT cow’s milk; with
  • NO Chemical Sweeteners.

Most manufacturers produce some sort of vanilla.  I excluded non-cow’s milk (soy milk, goat’s milk, coconut milk) to be fair.  And to hedge against varying levels of milk fat across low fat or light brands, I opted for FAT FREE products. Finally, I decided NOT to taste test any yogurts containing artificial sweeteners – b/c I hate them and this is MY CONTEST.

Although most of the yogurts are organic, a few are not. I decided to include conventional (aka, NON organic) yogurt for two reasons. One. Although there is normally a price differential associated with buying organic (i.e., it usually costs more), this was not necessarily the case here.  I wanted to see why.  Two. I felt comparing organic and conventional yogurts would add yet another level of interest to the experiment. YES we all know that organic yogurt is better for you, but does it also TASTE BETTER??

Curd for curd, my goal in this GREAT YOGURT TASTE OFF! was to find the best tasting, best value nonfat vanilla on the market. NOTE: In an ideal world, I would have been able to find all of the yogurts in single-serving 6 oz. cups. Unfortunately, after hauling it to 5 stores I took what I could get. BUT YOU GET THE IDEA. Now onto the results.

THE WINNERS!!!

Colombo Classic New England Made Nonfat Vanilla Yogurt (conventional)
colombo
$0.80 for 6 oz.
Good texture. Slightly thick, yet smooth and creamy. Reminds me of Stonyfield’s subtle sweetness, but with a touch more vanilla flavor. This is a yummy yogurt I would definitely buy again and recommend to others.

Stonyfield Farm Organic Fat Free French Vanilla Yogurt
stonyfieldff
$0.99 for 6 oz.
This has been my go-to yogurt for years. I still love Stonyfield’s thick (almost chunky) appearance and very smooth & creamy texture. By comparison it is much less sweet than competitors, with only a hint of vanilla. Just how I like it.

Horizon Organic Fat-Free Vanilla Yogurt
horizon1
$4.69 for 32 oz.
Top marks for this delicious organic yogurt, with its smooth, light and creamy texture. This one is a bit sweeter than Stonyfield, with a more discernible vanilla taste. Highly recommended.

Brown Cow All Natural Nonfat Vanilla (conventional)
browncow
$0.89 for 6 oz.
It’s hard to believe this yogurt’s fat free! TONS of vanilla flavor in a very sweet, rich and creamy base. This yogurt is perfect for those craving decadent desserts while dieting. A little sweeter than I’m accustomed to, but delicious all the same. Recommended.

THE LOSERS

Chobani Vanilla Non Fat Greek Yogurt (conventional)
chobani
$1.59 for 6 oz.
This yogurt is not cheap, though it was the least expensive of the three Greek-style yogurts sampled. I read a bit about Greek yogurt before undertaking this experiment, both to educate as well as prepare myself for what it would be like. I agree with most reviews which describe Greek yogurt as chalky and unappealing. Both adjectives can easily be used to describe Chobani, as well as unbelievably thick, not sweet, with no discernible vanilla flavor. Do not buy this unless you enjoy Greek yogurt or need cheap glue.

365 Organic Vanilla Nonfat Yogurt
365organic
$0.89 for 6 oz.
I am not sure how to describe this yogurt. I took one bite and UGH!!!! actually had to spit it out. It had a very pronounced sour “yogurt-y” taste. Almost too much to believe. Until I looked more closely at the cup and realized it was actually expired by THREE WEEKS. Way to sell me that Oct 28th yogurt on November 18th, Whole Foods. I will not be going back for another.

Wallaby Organic Vanilla Bean Creamy Australian Style Nonfat Yogurt
wallaby
$0.99 for 6 oz.
This Australian-style yogurt is actually manufactured in California. Having never been to Australia, I’m not sure what difference there is in our yogurts, except to say this had a smoother, more blended feel. This was one of only two yogurts to have any visible vanilla bean specks, and Wallaby had by FAR the strongest vanilla flavor of any yogurt sampled. Check and check. Unfortunately, it was also extremely sweet, with a flavor reminiscent of Kaopectate. I will not be buying this one again.

Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt Vanilla
oikos
$1.99 for 6 oz.
This Greek-style yogurt is made by Stonyfield Farm, which might account for my liking it slightly better than the other two I tried. It had a much lighter consistency – almost whipped – which made it mildly appealing, though in flavor I’d be hard pressed to distinguish it from plain yogurt. Very little sweetness and virtually no vanilla flavor. Not recommended.

Skyr.is Vanilla (conventional)
skyr
$2.79 for 6 oz.
FOUR WORDS: UNBELIEVABLY THICK AND EXPENSIVE. This was the priciest yogurt by far, and not even organic. Granted, it’s a Greek Style yogurt manufactured in Iceland. But even that can’t make up for it. I want to label this yogurt a novelty – it even comes with its own very nifty snap-shut spoon, but frankly save your $2.79. The yogurt is, as I said, incredibly thick, with a soft cheese consistency. To its credit Skyr.is was the only other yogurt besides Wallaby to have visible vanilla bean specks. But its barely sweet taste and batter-like consistency were just too much to conquer. I will not be buying this again.

Butterworks Farm Vermont Vanilla Organic Nonfat Yogurt
butterworks1
$3.99 for 32 oz.
Knowing my predilection for ALL THINGS VERMONT, I was poised to love this yogurt like none other.  Unfortunately, this was the only other yogurt – besides the EXPIRED ONE – that I physically spit out. I am sorry. I feel terrible saying this about yogurt lovingly and wholesomely produced by a small family farm in the Northern Kingdom, but this yogurt is awful. Truly sour. AND Curdy. With no discernible vanilla flavor. Looking at their website, their Maple Yogurt seems to get high marks. Try that one instead.

365 Fat Free Vanilla Nonfat Yogurt (conventional)
365conventional
$0.59 for 6 oz.
I normally LOVE BARGAINS. But sometimes you have to pay more to get what you want. This is one of those times. This yogurt was – shall I say it? GROSS. with a pronounced vanilla flavor that tasted fake. It was so nasty, I double-checked the fine print to see if it was natural vanilla. TWICE. I guess it’s the yogurt equivalent of buying a GUCCI bag off the guy in the street. Whole Foods may be a wonderful store, but frankly their yogurt has left me shuddering. First expired, then THIS. Good thing it only cost 59 cents.

IN CONCLUSION.

The GREAT YOGURT TASTE OFF! was certainly a learning experience. As someone accustomed to eating roughly 2 cups of yogurt on an average day – even for me, this was a little TOO MUCH.

The difference in taste between these yogurts was nothing less than astounding. Now having sampled so many different makers, I realize just what I love about Stonyfield Farm and why I keep coming back. Although I liked Brown Cow and Colombo, neither is organic. And although I also enjoyed Horizon Organic, I don’t like it any better than Stonyfield. In conclusion: there’s a reason why I’ve stayed with Stonyfield all these years. Healthy, delicious organic yogurt at a reasonable price.

The difficulty of staying monogamous w/ one’s yogurt.

Weeks ago I posted about becoming a Stonyfield Farm recipe-of-the month winner. I described my fabulous array of yogurt-themed prizes and the honor that is having one’s name on the amazingly wonderful SF Farm website. AND YES it was WONDERFUL. But since that blissful time, things have – well, changed. It’s not ALL ABOUT ME anymore. Of course, Stonyfield is still the same delicious yogurt it’s always been, but somehow I’m just not feeling so special. Yes, I know it inevitably happens once the honeymoon’s over, and Yes, we are still going through the motions, BUT lately when I go to the supermarket, I notice others.

As many of you know, I am a very busy woman. True, I make my life seem oh-so-easy and glamorous, but it is actually a whole lot of WORK. And as part of my routine of convenience and cheapness, it is customary for me to do quite a bit of shopping at BJs warehouse super store. And since I consume such vast amounts of delicious wholesome yogurt, this is a really good thing. I can buy all that yummy nutritious Stonyfield Farm yogurt at LOW LOW Warehouse prices and save enough to go right back and BUY SOME MORE! Unfortunately, I have recently noticed as I’ve said, alternatives brazenly on display right there beside my beautiful Stonyfield. *GASP!* I KNOW. it is more than a little shocking for me to admit I have found myself even LOOKING AT OTHERS, but let’s face it. Once the coupons run out, I am only human.

It has come to my attention that the two yogurts below:


Hereafter referred to as BRAND C and BRAND D for sake of modesty, sell in cases right beside my beloved SF Farm at BJs Warehouse Superstore. They are also attractively packaged, so I admit, I have eyeballed them from time to time. Neither are organic, so they both sell more cheaply. AS they would HAVE TO b/c no one wants to buy the cow when they can get the milk for FREE, right?
No one touches Stonyfield’s undoctored wholesome quality and goodness! But I have recently noticed one undeniable & striking difference between BRAND C and BRAND D and my pure SF Farm. C and D both offer AN EXTRA FLAVOR in their yogurt cases. which unfortunately happens to be my most favoritest yogurt flavor of all. PEACH.

    Oh, say it ain’t so! I wish I could. I really really wish I could. but I would of course be lying. B/c it is true. Peach yogurt is simply the BEST, and there is no denying it. I will now describe to you my dilemma.

    All three brands of yogurt sell in cases of either 12 (Brand C and SF Farm) or 15 (Brand D). SF Farm is the most expensive at $8.89, the others sell for a dollar or two less.

    Brand C offers 12 cups of yogurt: 4 strawberry, 4 blueberry and 4 PEACH.

    Brand D offers 15 cups of yogurt: 5 strawberry, 5 blueberry and 5 PEACH.

    SF Farm offers 12 cups of yogurt: 6 strawberry and 6 blueberry and 0 PEACH.

          In order for you to understand the gravity of this situation, I must disclose the fact that I am one of 57 people living on Planet Earth who does not like (PREPARE YOURSELVES)

          Strawberries. I KNOW. INSANE. But I hate them. Passionately. The only strawberries I have ever even remotely liked were hand-picked in an organic field in Vermont, taken home to our friends picture-perfect log cabin, rinsed in ice cold spring water, sliced thinly and spooned over homemade flapjacks with pure 100% Vermont maple syrup. And even those were just o-kay. So the REAL Figures are as follows:

          Brand C: 4 strawberry, 4 blueberry and 4 PEACH = 8 YOGURTS

          Brand D: 5 strawberry, 5 blueberry and 5 PEACH = 10 YOGURTS

          SF Farm: 6 strawberry and 6 blueberry and 0 PEACH = 6 YOGURTS

          You CAN NOW SEE MY DIFFICULTY. Out of all 3 brands, Stonyfield gives me the worst yogurt return. by far. And although my Beloved Stonyfield Farm Organic is the yummiest most wholesome yogurt on the planet, and undeniably OUT OF THIS WORLD DELICIOUS, I am not MADE OF MONEY. I simply cannot continue paying twice for 6 blueberry yogurts. Back when we first got together, me and SF, I would have done anything. Walked across glass or hot coals, or paid four times over. But nowadays, it just seems crazy. Yes, I know that Love is Blind, and Money Cannot Buy Happiness, and STONYFIELD RULES, but… but….But. if only, ONLY THEY INCLUDED PEACH. THEN Everything would be Just Peachy. once again.

          I *heart* Stonyfield Farm

          Last month I got a very unexpected email from the marketing coordinator at Stonyfield Farm yogurt informing me I’d won their Recipe of the Month contest. WOW! I didn’t even know I’d been entered, but apparently when you submit a recipe (something I did), they enter you automatically. Coool. So I was super excited to hear I’d been chosen as one of three winners for the month of November (an honor in and of itself), but even more psyched when I read that I’d also be getting… a PRIZE! Now, I don’t know if you can tell from my online persona, but sometimes I can get PRETTY EXCITED, and this was one of those times. A goodie bag of yogurt wonders ALL FOR MY VERY OWN!!! WOOHOO!

          So I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of my precious yogurt box, and late last week I began wondering where it could be. I worried about it a little bit. You see, we have issues with our mail delivery here at our palatial West Philly estate. Indeed, our postal service has become so erratic that we’ve had to open a PO Box at the main Philly branch in order to ensure we actually get some of our mail. Unfortunately when you miss a payment, businesses do not care if it was because you never ever got the bill. That’s simply NOT an excuse. And when we do receive mail at our house, it’s often sampled or heavily used. Like our bank statements, which come open and pre-scrutinized. Or our magazines, which arrive so dog-eared we know what the mailman had for lunch. We also routinely receive mail for other people, blocks away, which I dutifully walk over and place gently through their slot. But who is getting my mail? And why aren’t they kindly returning the favor?? Yesterday my 94 year old grandma called to say she’d gotten my recent card, but someone had slit the envelope down the side and removed the rest of its contents. It made me SO MAD. WHAT IS WRONG WITH SOME PEOPLE?? HAVE THEY NO SHAME?? DO THEY NOT HAVE A GRANDMA~?? DO THEY NOT REALIZE GOD DOES NOT LOOK FAVORABLY ON THOSE WHO STEAL FROM 94 YEAR OLD WOMEN LONGING FOR PHOTOS OF THEIR GRANDCHILDREN??? As my husband would say, may God smite them. Painfully.

          So you see, I was beginning to think my beautiful Stonyfield Farm prize might have been delivered and stolen off my porch. Like the time my husband ordered something from Apple, and UPS delivered it to some deranged woman 12 blocks away, who called us demanding money for its return. Or the time my neighbor ordered books from Amazon and found the open package three blocks away in the street. So this weekend I contacted the very nice marketing coordinator, explaining my concern, and YIPPEE! she told me that my package was on its way …. and finally, yesterday, my beautiful box from Stonyfield Farm arrived. 🙂

          Let me tell you, it was even better than I’d expected. No expired yogurt at all. Instead I got coupons! Always great when you consume lots of healthy yummy delicious STONYFIELD FARM YOGURT like I do (*wink to camera*)! And not only that, but I got a bunch of awesome cooking stuff – a super thick Stonyfield Farm logo oven mitt,

          heavy-duty pyrex measuring cup and double-spoon AND spatula. PLUS a yougurt cheese maker – which looks like a hairnet,

          but actually makes you YOGURT CHEESE. Doesn’t that sound delicious??! I confess it does not sound all that delicious but I bet it is delicious if it is made with STONYFIELD FARM yogurt, because IT is the BEST. And not only did I get all of those amazing things, BUT I also got a cute cow-emblazoned magnet, a brand new pencil AND a Stonyfield Farm Cookbook, with tons and tons of recipes and ideas for using their delicious healthy yogurt, complete with scrumptious-looking color photographs. This book was written and tested by the CEO’s wife, so you know it’s got to be good. And last but not least, is my brand new beautiful Stonyfield Farm tote bag, with the SF Farm logo on one side and the Brown Cow logo on the other. My husband asked me who the Brown Cow is and I have to say I have no idea, but he/she is cute and that’s all that matters. I even got to USE my tote bag last night when we went to the library. I proudly displayed my yogurt preference to all and sundry and I know everyone was GREEN WITH ENVY. It’s lucky the library is so darn close to Whole Foods, because I think I left a trail of yogurt-hungry people all waiting for a quick release.

          So, in conclusion, I urge each and everyone of you to go out and buy some wonderfully spectacular Stonyfield Farm yogurt today. Then you should go home and create a magnificently delicious recipe and send it to Stonyfield Farm, so that you too may be as happy as I am right now. Sitting here with my new potholder on my hand and my yogurt cheese maker on my head.

          WOW. I just won another contest. ROCK ON!!

          Dear Christin:

          Congratulations! The recipe you submitted to our website, Stonyfield.com, was selected as a winner in our Monthly Recipe Drawing for the month of November. Your prize, a bag full of Stonyfield Farm goodies, is waiting for you! Please reply to this message with a mailing address that we may send your prize to.

          We will be featuring your winning recipe on the Get Cooking Monthly Recipe Drawing section of our website and would also like to include your photo and hometown. If you would like your photo included, please send us a digital headshot of yourself when you send your address. Thank you for submitting your delicious recipe. Be sure to visit Stonyfield.com frequently to get new and updated recipes!

          Best Regards,

          **** ******
          Marketing Coordinator
          Stonyfield Farm