Monday, September 14, 2015

Milkshakes ... from Pinkberry?

You know me and birthday freebies, I can't resist!  Particularly when they are for awesome things like frozen yogurt at Pinkberry.  I really like Pinkberry, and you can read all about past Pinkberry froyo creations, such as my first ever visit when they opened in SF, my return visit a few weeks later,  my 2013 and 2014 Pinkberry birthday outings, and other visits.

So when my birthday rolled around this year, I picked the first hot day, and eagerly set off to Pinkberry, excited to see my 6 flavor choices.  And then ... I saw them.  Hmm.  Not exciting.  As always, they had classic tart and chocolate hazelnut, both pretty boring.  Next came two fruity flavors: blood orange and pear.  I tried the blood orange and it was crazy sweet, and not in a good way.  Pear was a seasonal offering, creamy, decent enough, but not really for me.  Next, dairy-free peach passion.  This had a decent flavor, but was just sorbet (sorry those who are dairy-free, but I'm all about the cream).  The final flavor was another seasonal one, pumpkin.  It too was decently creamy, but I didn't care for the spicing.

I was a bit dejected.  I didn't like any of the flavors.  The birthday freebee is only good for the month, and I was gone for most of August, so I had no more time.  I had to use it, or lose it.  And I couldn't lose my freebie!

Then, the helpful staff member who was taking my order chimed in, "you can also get a smoothie or shake if you want?  Anything that is the same price as a small with toppings ..."

I had no idea that Pinkberry even had these on the menu.  At one point they experimented with offering greek yogurt, but that didn't last long.  All anyone gets there is froyo with toppings.  But since I wasn't loving the froyo flavors, maybe a shake wasn't a bad idea?

I eyed the shakes and smoothies menu.  Smoothies are made with greek yogurt and fruit, all healthy sounding, and none of the exclusively fruity flavors jumped out at me.  The shakes however are made with froyo.  They have only three flavors: strawberry pomegranate, chocolate banana, and chocolate peanut butter.  Chocolate peanut butter you say?  Well, hmm.  Chocolate and peanut butter are always a great match in my book ...
Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake. $5.25.
"The perfect twist on a classic milkshake, made with the goodness of yogurt."

I felt bad as soon as I ordered it, and saw how much work my server had to do, compared to a standard froyo order.  A swirl of froyo, pack on a few toppings, done.  But a shake?  That took effort.  But she did volunteer the fact that I could get one, right?  Maybe it was nice to do something different?

My server immediately told me that she'd be back in a few minutes, and retreated to the back of the area.  She pulled out a gallon of milk and a tub of peanut butter.  She pulled out a blender.  And she got to work.

My shake was made with the chocolate hazelnut froyo, which she dispensed right from the froyo machine into the blender, plus milk (I think whole milk? I wasn't given a choice of milks, and I can't imagine they really have options), and a very generous amount of Peter Pan creamy peanut butter.  I'm pretty sure that is all that went into it.  

Anyway.  The consistency was really great.  Super thick, almost too thick to drink with a straw at first, but it melted quickly, so this wasn't actually a problem.  I also grabbed a spoon to enjoy a little that way as well.  The consistency was basically that of froyo, just slightly watered (er, milked?) down.  It reminded me of a Frosty from Wendy's, although I haven't had one of those in years.

The flavor was very, very rich.  It was too rich for me at first.  I love peanut butter, but I think she went overboard on how much she added.  As the shake melted it got a little less intense, plus, it grew on me as I became used to the richness.  But it would have certainly been better with slightly different ratios.  I had about half left when I got back to my office, and I quickly cut it with some soy milk, which worked wonders.

So overall, this was actually pretty good.  Clearly a different experience than getting a froyo loaded with toppings, but if you are in the mood for a shake, it turns out, Pinkberry can do a decent job.  I'm not sure why the shake menu is so limited though, as they do have plenty of ingredients with which they could make some awesome shakes.  I wonder if you could customize one?

I also really wanted whipped cream on top.  And I kinda wanted chocolate chips mixed in for some texture, like you can get in Starbucks frappucinos (another freebie I got for my birthday ... stay tuned!)

The regular $5.25 price seemed a big high, but it was a very large shake.  This is the same price as a small with toppings, and compared to that, a shake is a much greater value - it has far more froyo in it than a comparable small dish, and the server spends much more time mixing it up (and then cleaning the blender out).  I'd get it again in similar circumstances, but I wouldn't necessarily seek it out.
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