Here’s a post you never knew you needed, and which you probably did not, in fact, need. But I love to document, and I’m easily fixated, so there we are. This year I set my cap for a Holy Breakfast Trinity. Yogurt, granola, fruit. Il est parfait.
In between making my own parfaits, I also couldn’t help buying them all over Cambridge. My only stipulations were that the yogurt be plain, not flavored, and full- or reduced fat, not nonfat. (I’m trying to embrace a diet low in refined sugars with plenty of protein, healthy fats, and produce.) Surprising how many places use the nonfat super-sweet stuff! Here are eight Cambridge dishes that fit the bill, plus a bonus Boston breakfast at the end.
Voltage Coffee and Art. Substantial pistachio granola with apricots and a dollop of yogurt. I really like the pistachios, though the dried apricots are strong and threaten to overwhelm the balance. The granola’s not especially crispy, so the chewy oats make for a jaw workout. This very filling portion comes drizzled with honey, which wasn’t needed as it disappeared in the granola. $5.34.
Tory Row. Points for prettiness, although the crown jewels design does make it rather difficult to mix up. It’s extremely fragrant as well, with the strawberries and bananas wafting up at me. A good sign. The granola, which hails from Nashoba Brook Bakery, has a sort of bready bakery taste. Reminds me of the topping on an apple crisp, although much less sweet, which is good considering it’s breakfast, and there’s plenty of sweetness from the perfectly ripe bananas and strawberries. Yogurt is Greek-style, thicker and a bit drier, but pretty medium on the tartness scale. Ratio of yogurt to granola is as I prefer it, with a good amount of yogurt and a bit of sweet crunch in each bite. $5.
Crema Cafe. Really lovely creamy yogurt with bananas and the daily house-made compote. Today it is peach, and I really like the peach; I’ve also enjoyed the berry. Coconut and toasted almond slivers add a nice flavor to the granola. Overall though I see this as a snack yogurt parfait. It is too sweet for me at breakfast time, and too small. $4.95.
Clover Food Truck offers up a large serving of excellent buttery granola with a nice hit of salt and sweet and a very mild, almost cheese-tasting yogurt from Sidehill Farms in Western Mass. The fresh, local fruit does tend to vary with the seasons. When the parfait is topped with ripe blueberries or peaches in summer, it sings. $5 cash at the food truck.
1369 Coffee House: A floury granola, heavy on the cinnamon. The organic yogurt, made by the good folks at Stonyfield, is mild and creamy. Quite a large portion, well-proportioned. I like the fall fruit (green apples, pears, dried cranberries) much better than the summer fruit (smooshy berries and melons). $5.25.
Mariposa Bakery: $5.50 for granola and yogurt, extra for bananas (which I eschew). Very nutty, toasty, substantial granola with pepitas, flax seeds, almonds, well-toasted oats, dried cherries, currants, and maple for sweetness. It’s small, but with about equal parts granola and yogurt, it’s pretty sturdy.
Henrietta’s Table. This extravaganza always consists of house-made granola, yogurt, chopped apples, and mixed berries. Definitely the higher-end of the parfaits here, it’s served in a dessert glass with the long-handled spoons beloved of ice cream eaters. Henrietta’s granola is very unusual. It uses molasses as a sweetener, lending it a deep caramel color, and the ingredients (which include bran, wheat germ, oats, nuts and seeds) are blended small to create a crumbly, slightly chewy mixture prone to forming little clumps. The layering looks elegant, but since the fruit and granola are rather solid, it’s hard to get the spoon through all the layers and mix it up properly. You’re left with a few bites of plain dry granola at the bottom of the glass. They do, however, gild the lily with a chunk of honeycomb on top. $7.50.
Sofra Bakery and Cafe. As usual, Sofra’s version of this dish is completely unique to the area, with a delicious Turkish spin. They use their house labne for the base, a yogurt so thick and rich that you can turn it upside down with no danger of spilling. Instead of granola, they add in cooked, chewy grano (wheat grains). The fruit component is Sofra’s spoon sweets, a jammy compote that changes with the seasons but always incorporates some of the cafe’s trademark spices and herbs (think cardamom or rose). Sadly, no photo, as I forgot to photograph in my rush to eat. $6.
Pret a Manger (Boston bonus parfait). Blueberry and Pine Nut Pot, $2.59, about 4 oz. It’s probably not enough for breakfast on its own, but so cute, and so charmingly called a “pot.” They have lots of flavors, including some with granola; I selected this one because it seemed least likely to be over-sweetened. Pine nuts are really luxurious here, buttery and rich, and the yogurt, despite being called Greek, is extremely creamy with none of that drying feel. Nice sweet blueberry with no fake aftertaste. This is great, and surprisingly filling for how small it is.
Hope you enjoyed my mildly compulsive journey through yogurt land! We’re moving into the season of warm, cozy breakfasts, so I can’t promise I won’t be back in a few months with all the porridge in the kingdom reviewed for you.