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Best Yogurt I've Ever Eaten - Sophia's Belmont

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Okay I've never been a huge fan of this place. It's just fine for what it is, but almost everything they sell can be bought at Arax etc. AND Arax has literally 1,000 additional amazing items.

Nevermind it used to be kinda dumpy. Though they just did a fairly nice refurb, and have more stuff then they did.

Also their prices are sometimes insane, i.e., 1 Pound box garden variety arborio rice $8. Same box anywhere else is between $2.99 and $6. Have ya been to the supermarket and price compared? I mean really.

For some things they have stuff no one else has. All kinds of barley. Interesting (haven't tried em) "sour Greek pasta" and a few other things.

That said, the other day I was in there and she was serving homemade yogurt out of a fridge in the register area. I asked what it was: "Oh, our homemade sheep and goat milk yogurt, would you like to try?"

Okay, full stop, end of discussion, most amazing yogurt I have ever eaten. Rich and tangy, yet light, fluffy, and fresh at the same time. Sort of like the very finest creme fraiche without quite as much fat. Though I am fairly sure this stuff ain't fat free.

Closer to a fresh cheese, creme fraiche than an "eat it with a spoon" yogurt (though it would certainly be amazing that way.) Not as thick as a thickened yogurt cheese (labneh).

I have been eating it smeared on everything. Heck I'd smear it on myself then lick it off ;-). WAY more flavorful than cream cheese on a bagel.

A remarkable, local, artisanal product. And a fairly big tub (1lb size) was between $3 and $4. One of the most amazing food products I have ever eaten. I WANT SOME now.

Sophia's Greek Pantry
265 Belmont Street
Belmont, MA 02478-3749
(617) 489-1371

www.sophiasgreekpantry.com

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  1. Wow - that's an awesome chow find. How is it in comparison to say Fage?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Bob Dobalina

      Fage is good stuff, but not even close. Just an entirely different product.

      Just to put this a bit more in perspective. I've made my own yogurt (from regular milk) many times, and let it get really tangy. Again, not even in the same universe.

      1. re: StriperGuy

        agreed. it is excellent and I like the buying from the walk in fridge aspect. i've not tried anything else there.

        1. re: gourmaniac

          Now they serve it out of a chest fridge next to the register, part of their new config.

    2. Great find, Striper!

      I have great memories of my grandma's house in Nepal, eating fresh, whole-milk yogurt (from cows grazing behind the house, noless) made in terracotta pots. I wonder if this is similarly delicious.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Prav

        Nice.

      2. I have to try this. I make my own yogourt, and next time I do a batch, I'm getting this to use as starter.

        1. I thought Sophia's yogurt was an open secret -- but apparently it's just a secret! I agree, it's the best thing in the store, and I don't know why they make you request it instead of featuring it prominently. Haven't tried, but I've heard they do frozen yogurt too (not sure if it's all year round or just in hot weather).

          6 Replies
          1. re: Pia

            The day I was there they had frozen too which I had a taste of. It was taro flavored of their own yogurt and then she ladled cherry jam on top (I observed someone else ordering it.)

            The frozen was good, but nowhere as unique as the plain.

            1. re: StriperGuy

              Gotta jump on this one. Haven't had great yogurt since I was in Greece. Now to find some great honey to go with it for breakfast. Yikes!
              Enjoy,
              CocoDan

              1. re: StriperGuy

                The flavor changes. It's raspberry now. Very good. Ask for it with crushed nuts on top.

              2. re: Pia

                You mean you've been holding out on us all this time ;-).

                1. re: StriperGuy

                  I, like Pia, thought this was pretty much an open secret. I've been enjoying her yogurt for at least the past 6 months. I drizzle some honey and a little granola on it and it's the most amazing dish ever. I agree that there is no other yogurt out there like it. It has a tang that Fage and any of the other pre-packaged yogurts do not have --they might be creamy but taste totally bland next to Sophia's. Yes, it is made from goat and sheep's milk, which initially was a bit of a turnoff for me (as I tend to really only like cheeses/milk from cows) but it tastes delicious and that's all that matters. She says it has just 70 calories a cup and is made from 1 or 2% milk, (can't remember which, though I'm leaning toward 2%.) Definitely not full-fat whole milk though, so perhaps not quite as fatty as you might think. And yes, you would think that, b/c it tastes so incredibly creamy.
                  It really is amazing, and yes, a good deal --approx $3 for a full tub, I usually get 2 per visit and that lasts me about a week and a half, if I'm lucky ;)

                  1. re: twentyoystahs

                    You need to try some good sheep's and goat's milk cheeses. They are not necessarily obviously different than cow's milk, but some of them are just amazing cheese. Hit Formaggio and sample a few. Truly amazing stuff. Heck even TJs has a rather respectable goat brie.

              3. I don't buy groceries there but she has the best taramosalata available around here, very good Greek cheeses - which they'll hand grate for you - and some very good dried sausages, including my favorite Lebanyi "hunter" sticks (which I break into pieces and dip in the taramosalata in the car). Her bread prices are also pretty good.

                We've been eating the yogurt for ages. When they redid the store to put the counter in the middle, they stopped putting the yogurt in the fridge case in plastic containers and now keep it in vats of a sort at the end of the counter. Just ask for what she has. It blows away the other yogurts around. (Though for price, Costco now carries Fage.)

                1. Toscanini's Ice Cream in Central Sq serves Sophia's yogurt during there breakfast/brunch. That is the first and only time I've had it and I've been pining for it since.

                  -----
                  Toscanini's Ice Cream
                  899 Main St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: heypielady

                    On a different but similar note, have any of you tried the Petit Montebourg they sometimes carry at Whole Foods? It's in a small yogurt like container, but is actually a cheese product with fruit flavors. I think it's delicious, and , fortunately, the nutritional information on the side is in french and so tiny I can't make it out ;o)

                    1. re: justbeingpolite

                      Haven't tried Petit Montebourg but I'm interested. Is it only in fruit flavors? because I'm a plain yogurt girl myself. I have been on a Liberte (from Quebec but available from the River Street Whole Foods) kick since I got back from a trip to Quebec in August. That's a nice creamy yogurt too. Liberte makes a goat milk yogurt but the price ($5.99 for 27 oz) has scared me off... I mean what if I really liked it and it became my regular yogurt?!

                      1. re: heypielady

                        Fruit only, I think.
                        Here's what I googled: http://www.nytimes.com/2000/01/19/din...

                        1. re: justbeingpolite

                          JBP: My Whole Foods (River Street) didn't carry Petit Montebourg but I picked some up last night at the Alewife location. You are right that it is delicious. BUT I'm glad my Wholesies doesn't carry it. At $5.99 for 6 "shot glasses" of yogurt I couldn't justify getting it regularly.

                          1. re: heypielady

                            Luckily my WF only has it occasionally.
                            Glad you liked it.

                            1. re: heypielady

                              Actually Alewife has carried it for many years and to answer your question, they did carry a chocolate flavor in the past but no longer. The fruit was always so delicious I never even tried chocolate.

                              It used to be 5 bucks which seems a lot easier to "swallow". It was on sale in perhaps August or September for 5.50, ha ha, and the 12 pack was 10 even. I had to get some for old time sake and it was the same. Awesome.

                              Too bad they don't make "Grand Montebourg". I'd be a regular customer.

                          2. re: heypielady

                            Liberte is also available at Russo's, and it's cheaper than at Whole Foods (it's $3.29/tub versus $3.69 at the Fresh Pond store for the straight cow's milk yogourt. Russo's doesn't carry the goat one). It's my favourite plain brand as well and my usual starter when I make my own, although I'm biased since I spent quite a few years living in Montreal eating Liberte products. But I just stopped by Sophia's today, and am now scared that's going to be the new favourite in the house. If you really like the liberte goat yogourt, my advice would be to buy goat's milk and make your own using the liberte as the starter. It's never going to be "cheap" compared to regular yogourt, but it might be enough cheaper to make it worth your time, depends on the price of plain goat's milk. For regular cow's milk yogourt, it's an appreciable savings ($3.29 for 27 oz Liberte in a tub versus $2.99 for 64 oz milk).

                          3. re: justbeingpolite

                            Petit Montebourg is LA BOMBE. It's high in fat. When the 12 pack goes on sale for 10 bucks, I go for it.

                            1. re: tatsu

                              Just got some at the Whole Foods Alewife location for $10 for 12. It's delicious.

                          4. re: heypielady

                            Sofra sells it as well.

                            I thought everyone knew about Sophia's. Guess not.

                            -----
                            Sofra
                            1 Belmont St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                          5. OMG...
                            OMG...
                            I am NEVER paying for a tub of Fage again. Striper, thanks again for the post - never would have stopped in to Sophia's but you are completely correct - amazing stuff! My wife is VERY happy with this find.

                            FYI, starting Monday, Sophia will be serving housemade Greek specialties, sandwiches and the like - will stop in next weekend to report back.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Bob Dobalina

                              NICE... glad you liked it. Superb stuff.

                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                Sir Striper, Neat, can't wait!

                                Have you tried Cabot's version of Greek Yogurt? It's actually totally cheating, they add cream and if you read the ingredients, it's around 73% calories from fat. But I love it for my breakfasts, it seems a bit too extreme for my guests however. Frankly I need the calories and fat, so I try to eat it often.

                                http://www.cabotcheese.coop/pages/our...

                                1. re: tatsu

                                  I have not. In Yogurt I tend to go for sour/tangy as opposed to super fatty. My usual is stuff from Arax, but the Sophia's product blows it out of the water.

                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                    I honestly have not tried any store-bought yogurt that even comes CLOSE to the tangy flavor Sophia's has....it is truly delicious AND addictive. Plus Sophia happens to be a really nice woman, always offering us little samples, tastes of other things.

                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                      Well, I'd say the Cabot's has both. Super curious about Sophia's however.

                                    2. re: tatsu

                                      I just bought some Cabot Greek Style low fat vanilla bean yogurt, but despite "sugar" being way down the list of ingredients, and the generous flecks of "vanilla", it's waaay too sweet and artificially vanilla to my taste at least (it also lists cornstarch which might help keep it solid and thick). I churned it up in my little Donvier and hope it will be more palatable in that form.

                                2. See, this is why I love this board. I live 2 min. from this place and never knew! I'm going tomorrow - I grew up on homemade yogurt and I bet this is going to bring me back . . . thanks so much for the tip!

                                  GG
                                  http://www.semisweetonline.com

                                  1. I never would've thought to stop in this place, given all the other Greek/Middle-eastern groceries around that area, but I stopped in after reading this -- and yes, this is the best yogurt I've ever eaten. Fantastic stuff. So much for my Fage habit!!

                                    1. Count me as another one who was inspired by this thread. My wife went shopping there today on my instructions, and asked the lady where the 'famous yoghurt' was...she didn't need any prompting, and gave her a tub.

                                      We had it this evening: it is an extremely rich and delicious yoghurt. However, it is so thick that it really functions as a standalone food, and many uses that we have for yoghurt, with other foods etc, will call for a sl. less rich variety, to prevent it over-powering other flavours.

                                      But yep, super delicious. It is, however, fairly pricey: $3/LB, which with our yoghurt eating habits, is almost double what we normally spend. Don't think we will do this as our only yoghurt, but we're sure glad to have discovered it. Only thing I'm worried about now is that with the increased foot traffic from this post this last week, the prices will just go even higher!

                                      Thanks for the tip, from someone who didn't know this 'open secret'.

                                      tb

                                      PS it may be made with 2% milk or whatever, but this is almost certainly a strained yoghurt, and the fat content is likely to be 10% or even significantly higher.

                                      28 Replies
                                      1. re: trueblu

                                        I happened to be in Belmont the day after this thread started, so I went and got some yogurt and I agree this is sensational. I am just finishing my second home-made batch with this as a starter; it is straining as I type. The first batch seemed about right in thickness when it was strained down to about six cups (started with 17 cups, a gallon of cow's milk and a cup of starter). So that means calories and fat are about tripled in my finished product. I'm not sure why Sophia said it was about 90 calories a cup (which milk is) but she also said she strains it down to about a quarter of the original volume.

                                        Anyway, the first batch I used skim milk and it was very good but just not quite as tangy as Sophia's, Today's batch is 1 percent and I will see if there's any noticeable difference.

                                        Home-made comes out at about 30 to 50% of the cost of Sophia's.

                                        1. re: Kunegunde

                                          Thanks for the report. I make 1/2 gallon batches when I make yogourt, though with cooler weather and less fruit selection, it hasn't been in demand lately so I haven't bothered. What do you like to do with all the whey when you strain? And did you notice a big taste difference between Sophia's yogourt and your own (since you used cow's milk and she doesn't)?

                                          1. re: little.tiger

                                            I'm just pouring the liquid off and down the drain, though I've found myself wondering if it has a sufficient concentration of bacteria and enough milk sugar to be worth saving to use as the starter. Is there another use for it?

                                            Yeah, I thought Sophia's was slightly more tangy and tasty, but not enough to justify the cost for me. Except I'll tell myself from time to time that I *have* to get a new starter just so I can have some of hers again.

                                            The only flavorings I've tried so far are maple syrup/cinnamon, and dry cocoa/splenda/almond extract. The yogurt is so creamy that the chocolate one has a mouthfeel strangely like a room-temperature and slow-to-melt premium ice cream--it's very satisfying.

                                          2. re: Kunegunde

                                            Kunegunde,
                                            Will you post the recipe for your yogart on the recipe board?
                                            Thanks.

                                            1. re: bearzie

                                              A gallon of milk in a stockpot on low to medium heat until 185 degrees F. Then while that starts cooling, I run hot water into the big ceramic liner from my KitchenAid crockpot to warm it up. Cool the hot milk down to 105-110 degrees F (sometimes I hurry this with a cold-water bath). Whisk in half to one cup of starter yogurt. Put warm ceramic liner into bubblewrap-lined box, fill with mixture and cover. Close up box with more bubblewrap. Rest the box on a foam cushion and cover with foam insulation or blankets. After 10 to 12 hours, pour into cloth-lined colander over roasting pan-sized dish. Strain for 24 hours in the refrigerator, occasionally emptying the liquid.

                                              There's a lot of ways to keep the culture warm long enough (low oven, heating pad, etc). I find using the large amount of warmed ceramic as well-insulated thermal storage works great and no worries about things left plugged-in or ovens on.

                                              For 1 cup of strained yogurt I have added 2T unsweetened cocoa, 2T splenda, 1/4t almond extract. Once I tried just finely chopped 60% chocolate chips (about 3T) and that was nice too.

                                              Also the new batch from1% milk is slightly but noticeably creamier than the skim batch.

                                              1. re: Kunegunde

                                                Hmmm nice approach to making yogurt thank you. I have struggled with how to keep right temp. You could probably use a big beverage cooler too, but I like the preheated ceramic liner idea. I also prefer to make it in jars or a container that is easier to manage. You are inspiring me. Pre warmed jars, perhaps a warm cast iron skillet for thermal mass, inside a cooler. I can see my next batch of yogurt now...

                                                No real need to re-pasturize the milk up to 185 degrees though. It is certainly a decent precaution to make sure the milk is sterile. Of course the mile was already pasteurized once.

                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                  I use a very low tech approach I learned from MIL, who makes yogourt every other day. Heat the milk until it boils gently. Cut the heat and let it cool until it's 'the right temperature for a baby's bath" (her words). Add a spoonful from the last batch. Cover the pot and stick it in the oven overnight (no need to prewarm or do anything, you are just using the chamber as is). In the morning, yogourt is ready. I have the occasional batch fail, but most of the time, yogourt is perfectly set in the morning.

                                                  1. re: little.tiger

                                                    i have to admit i like your approach a LOT better. :)

                                                    1. re: little.tiger

                                                      That is exactly my mamas method too, but I am interested in trying the 'high-tech' method out for the sake of comparison.

                                                    2. re: StriperGuy

                                                      If the milk you're using is ultra-pasteurized, then there's no need to heat it to a scald. However, if the milk has only been pasteurized, then heating it up to 185-190 and then cooling it down to 120 makes a HUGE difference in the texture of the finished product. It's thicker, almost velvety, than milk that you just take up to 120 before adding the starter.

                                                      Also, a cup of powdered whole milk (Nido or Klim) per half-gallon of 1% does wonders for the texture as well: starting with regular whole milk results in lumpy yogurt, for some reason.

                                                      1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                        Huh, thanks for the info. I did not know that scalding it actually improved texture. I thought it was strictly a safety issue... I did know of the powdered milk option.

                                              2. re: trueblu

                                                Yah, with that consistency I figured it must be strained, and thus rather high in fat, calories, etc.

                                                1. re: trueblu

                                                  On the price issue, the big tub of Fage usually goes for around $5, so for me anyway, the $3 price tag is a nice savings. If you typically get the big non-greek yogurts, it is going to be more expensive, agreed.

                                                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                    I'm not sure what people mean by 'big tub' -- a standard tub size of yoghurt for me is about 1kg, which would be about $8.

                                                    I've not had the Fage that this thread is talking about, but google seems to suggest it is the same as the 'Total' brand in the UK (not sure what it's called in Greece). That is a nice yoghurt, but it is by no means exceptional. And I much prefer the (non-strained) yoghurts that Arax carries over that.

                                                    The plus side for pricing of this yoghurt is that it is so thick, that one has to eat it mostly by itself (or with some honey, sour cherry jam etc), which reduces consumption and hence cost.

                                                    tb

                                                    1. re: trueblu

                                                      I smear it on bread.

                                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                                        Fair enough, it is the consistency of cream cheese after all. And my father would very much approve -- his favourite lunch is strained yoghurt, bread and ripe pears...but I digress.

                                                        For me, it's more of a "dessert" in the original sense of the word.

                                                        tb

                                                        1. re: trueblu

                                                          Yah, somehow it is not quite yogurt but something altogether different.

                                                          1. re: trueblu

                                                            A common sweet in Western India is strained yoghurt to which powdered sugar, saffron (tbsp or so of warm milk with saffron steeped in it), and freshly ground cardamom (again steeped in a little warm milk) are added. It's eaten with puris (fried flat breads). A variation is to use mangoes in season and skip the saffron.

                                                            1. re: FoodDabbler

                                                              What is that called? It sounds like our (Nepal) Sikarni... I've been meaning to make this, and I wonder if this Sophia's yogurt would do the trick.

                                                              1. re: Prav

                                                                It's called the Yumz.

                                                                Sounds like the same deal - shrikhand is the Indian version. I think I have seen recipes out there using Greek yogurt.

                                                                1. re: Nab

                                                                  Yes, shrikhand. You're a man/woman who's been brought up right.

                                                                  1. re: Nab

                                                                    You're a star, my yaar. =)

                                                                  2. re: Prav

                                                                    i've made Sikarni before, inspired by a rather poor meal at some place in Arlington (was it Kathmandu Spice?). But we tried this dessert there and liked it so much I found the recipe and made it. I think I actually started by straining Fage yogourt to thicken it further, but Sophia's could be used straight.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Kathmandu Spice
                                                                    166 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                                                                    1. re: little.tiger

                                                                      Boo, a poor meal at Kathmandu Spice! (Don't let Stripey read that :) )

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Kathmandu Spice
                                                                      166 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                                                                      1. re: little.tiger

                                                                        Sad tears of a bad meal at Kathmandu Spice. Sorry you had a bad one, luvs that place.

                                                                        -----
                                                                        Kathmandu Spice
                                                                        166 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                                                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                          Hmmm...may have to retry it since you steered us right with Great Taste.

                                                                          But the night we went (for my DH's birthday last year), the food was bland, the chicken was dry, and the meal was a disappointment (except the sikarni), leading my DH to formulate the "Oleanna Rule" ie. when someone offers to babysit, eat at Oleana (which has never let us down before).

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Oleana
                                                                          134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                                          Great Taste
                                                                          201 Main St, Milford, MA 01757

                                                                          1. re: little.tiger

                                                                            On the dinner menu the "Assorted Veggie Appetizer Plate" makes an amazing meal all by itself. Also the lunch buffet is quite good.

                                                                    2. re: FoodDabbler

                                                                      That would be AMAZING on this yogurt... Hmmm at home I have saffron and whole cardamon...

                                                          2. I have been posting about this stuff (as replies) for about two years. It is exactly the same as yogurt they serve in Greece. It is usually in the back and you have to ask for it. She sells it to several restaurants in the Boston area. Try it with Greek honey and walnuts.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: emilief

                                                              No longer in the back - new cooler right up front by the register island. My wife I think correctly pegged it as the yogurt she's had at Sofra.

                                                            2. 'yoghurt' you say? you mean the richer- than- sour cream, velvety white stuff I bought there today?
                                                              no waaay is that low fat; impossible.

                                                              i used to live nearby 30 yrs ago when the revolting Nikki owned that place. It sure is different now!

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                According to Sophia, it is made with a lower-fat milk, i.e. 1%, 2% vs whole. However, as PP have noted, perhaps the intense straining negates any of those benefits.

                                                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                  Yah that's the stuff.

                                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                    stripes, I know this sounds like I'm joking, but I'm actually serious: sophia's 'yoghurt' really does taste like sour cream to me. I have eaten the various greek yoghurts, Fage, etc. and none of them has this full fat sour cream flavor.(imo, flavor is not affected by straining. texture yes, but not flavor.) Maybe there's an M.I.T. food science CH who could test it. Until then I am going to believe my tastebuds/brain connection and use it very sparingly.

                                                                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                      I don't disagree, it is VERY tangy and rich. Anyone knows a good food analysis lab maybe we can send em a sample.

                                                                2. Eating it right now. They also sell huge 2 lb tubs. I picked one up for $6. Man, its so rich I have a hard time believing I'm not eating straight sour cream. I see why Stripes is spreading it on bagels. We should all weigh ourselves and then report back after a month of eating this stuff.

                                                                  On another note, it smelled amazing in there. Anyone try their sandwiches and prepared dinners? Looks like some interesting options: roasted pork with mushroom leak relish and feta cheese sandwich, grilled eggplant with carmelized onion/tomato sauce, parsley and feta sandwich, pastichio on Thursdays, baked giant beans and baked fish on Wednesdays... just to name a few.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: heypielady

                                                                    Sounds like after the redo of the shop layout they are turning things up a notch or two in general...

                                                                    1. re: heypielady

                                                                      Have been thinking about that very question: What exactly is the difference between that yogurt and sour cream? Are we just all eating sour cream? Is this a chowhound "Emporer has no clothes" moment?

                                                                      1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                                        They are very similar. Yogurt starts with milk, and sour cream with a higher fat product, usually what we'd call light cream. Different sets of bacteria are added to ferment the milk / cream. In the U.S., sour cream is then pasteurized to stop the fermentation, while yogurt generally is not and remains a "live" product.

                                                                    2. FYI South End Formaggio carries a small tub of Sophia's yogurt and sells for about $6 per pound. Not sure if the Cambridge location carries it.

                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Mike5966

                                                                        that's a massive mark-up! It's already extremely expensive as it is.

                                                                        tb

                                                                        1. re: Mike5966

                                                                          Wow, who knew?

                                                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                            stripes, i thought you might appreciate this:
                                                                            we had a real CH hat trick dinner last night.
                                                                            we dined on BIGOS, a Polish cabbage/sausage//mushroom stew that we had picked up from Polonus, a Polish deli, after a tip from a CH on the Salem restaurants thread.(I'd never heard of bigos before). Served it over scallion pasta from Dave's. And what did we put on top of it for necessary unctuousness?? yep, you got it.
                                                                            btw,so far, i agree with you about Dave's pasta. After being impressed that it had a nice thin translucency to it (I bought sheets and cut it myself) I was totally unimpressed by the lack of scallion flavor and most of all, the fact that it was anything but silky, and took forEVER to cook. whoever heard of fresh pasta taking forever to cook? needless to say, i don't get it.

                                                                            and the bigos? well, it was cheap($8 qt.) and i've found out why: 90% cabbage, 8% sausage, 0% stewed meat; 2% dried mushrooms.Good flavor but now i know that with the next qt.(in the freezer now) I'll be adding tons more sausage, some stewed pork,sauteed onions and dried mushrooms.

                                                                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                              That is quite the chow dinner.

                                                                              Last year I did the total chow-nutter thing and fermented my own sauerkraut... it was pretty amazing, but stunk up the house for a couple of weeks.

                                                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                fermented? not pickled? i know noth of sauerkraut .

                                                                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                  http://www.wildfermentation.com/resou...

                                                                            2. re: StriperGuy

                                                                              I knew; I live around the corner from the south end formaggio and when in desparate straits, have gotten the sophia's yogurt there. However, two big deterrents in my book:
                                                                              1) the cost is at least 2x (maybe a bit more) sophia's. i.e. i can get a 2 lb tub at sophia's for a little over $5. Formaggio sells 1 lb for $5.99.
                                                                              2) there have been a couple of times when I've gotten the yogurt at Formaggio when it's been a little "off" --i'm not sure how long they keep the yogurt there and/or if they are storing it the best way possible. All I know is it has happened more than once. Formaggio always is very cordial and has refunded my $$, but still, kind of a drag.

                                                                              However, all that being said, if I am really craving Sophia's and a trip to Belmont just isn't gonna happen, I am very happy to have this as an option.

                                                                          2. So I did a crazy experiment with Sophia's yogurt this weekend based on its similarity to creme fraiche: I made a pumpkin pie with it! I have a recipe for a chocolate pumpkin tart that uses creme fraiche as the cream base instead of heavy cream or evaporated milk. It adds a slight tang to the pie which is amazing with a rich dark chocolate (I like valrona manjari which has a fruity note to it). So last night I substituted Sophia's yogurt for the creme fraiche.

                                                                            I was nervous making it though because once the pumpkin puree and yogurt met, I could see that the yogurt was not as much like creme fraiche as it originally appeared to be. Creme fraiche started off less thick than the yogurt but somehow got thicker as it mixed with the other ingredients. This is likely from its high fat content (11 g/serving). The yogurt just stayed loose.

                                                                            The pumpkin mixture with the creme fraiche coated my silicon spatula to the point I really had to scrub it with a soapy sponge to get the residue off. The pumpkin mixture with the yogurt cleaned up pretty easy.

                                                                            And the results? A pretty tasty pie... BUT I still prefer the creme fraiche version. The yogurt pie didn't have quite as an appealing color. It stayed more of a light brown than the cf's deep burnt orange color. The texture for the yogurt pie was also just a bit lighter and less dense. I prefer the compact density of the cf pie. Overall I was please this experiment worked. My biggest worry was that the fat content in the yogurt would be too low and the pie would curdle as it baked. Thankfully, that didn't happen. So if you have your huge tubs of Sophia's in the fridge and you need to make a pumpkin pie in a pinch this is a suitable substitution.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: heypielady

                                                                              thanks for the experiment. The lack of curdling does suggest a high fat content as suspected, although I personally don't know the threshold for that effect.

                                                                              tb

                                                                            2. We were making an afternoon of going to some of our favorite spots - Arax, Sevan, and
                                                                              Formaggio Kitchen. Based on this post, we swung over to Sophias, which we discovered is not far at all from Arax.

                                                                              Even though she was actually closed, the owner (I'm guessing she was the owner) helped me get some yogurt, and taramasalada (even got some samples before I bought some - the taramasalada is delicious). So friendly and nice.

                                                                              Anyway, the yogurt is unbelievable. The best yogurt ever. It is nothing I would eat a cup of alone (so rich!) - although I suspect my 11 yr old son would based upon his enthusiastic eating of it when we first came home. We ate it thickly smeared on the bread we bought at FK. holy smokes! sweet, tangy, rich, creamy. YUMMY! Thanks, StriperGuy!

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: nlg

                                                                                I'm on this bandwagon too. Bought some last week and have been loving it. A scoop on top of a bowl of lentils and kale is a wonderful thing....

                                                                                1. re: GretchenS

                                                                                  Added a spoonful - on top of blueberry pie :)

                                                                                2. re: nlg

                                                                                  stripes, i can just see the cartoon- a street somewhere, all kinds of people, tall and short, no hair to lots of hair, and all are waddling down the street. waddling. and wearing tee shirts that say "Striper Guy made me do it" !!

                                                                                3. Stopped by on Saturday and, along with yogurt, etc., had a great sandwich with porchetta, leek/mushroom relish and feta cheese - really yummy sandwich. I only intended to have a bite and save the rest for later. That thought vanished after the bite. Since she did not have her regular bread delivered yet, had it on a fine roll and I think because the roll was smaller than the usual bread, we also got a soup and she comped us some little rice puddings. (We were early ~10:30 and she officially starts serving lunch at 11 on Saturday. I think I also heard her say she is open on Sundays during December.)

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                                                    oh boy, that's great news. thanks.

                                                                                    1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                                                      ooh, that sandwich looked good. I'm glad you liked it. My office got lunch there a few weeks ago and everybody liked it. My co-worker that picked up the order said that they are the nicest people ever and they gave her a free zucchini fritter while she waited. The one comment everyone made was that the sauces on the sandwiches were really tasty particularly the pepper relish on the lamb and the wasabi-ginger mayo on the roast beef. We also got complimentary rice puddings which is usually not my thing. But this version was addictive and I polished it off.

                                                                                    2. hi stripes, what's the baby's name? mrs and baby o.k.?

                                                                                      i thought of you when we finally tried Kebab Factory yesterday and had a fun conversation w/ the neighboring woman who ate at KF all through her pregnancy and now her 18 mo. old loves indian food, so the 2 of them were there for their daily visit! which reminded me of my manhattan friend who, through her pregnancy, used to get forceful chinese food cravings; so her husb was sent out on many a late night mission - to retrieve chinese food. the baby was born and, ipso facto, loved chinese food!

                                                                                      -----
                                                                                      The Kebab Factory
                                                                                      414 Washington St, Somerville, MA 02143

                                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                        Thanks for asking. Mother and chowpup are doing Great! Both healthy and happy.

                                                                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                          That chowpup better like GOOD pastries. I'm just saying.

                                                                                          1. re: yumyum

                                                                                            Too bad it's such hard work FINDING good pastries in this town... Chowpup just might have to go to Paris.

                                                                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                              stripes and striped puppy, Right Near You!!!>>Sophia's: i went in yesterday to try some newly touted things and low and behold- a real winner in your sweets category!! I can only guess that you have not posted about them because you have not tried them, so I am here to tell you to rush right over and pick up a container of their Melomakarona!!!!! Dark brown oval walnut cookies, intensely walnut flavored, that have been soaked in a syrup. I grew up w/ a Greek friend and started making these when i was little, but have not noticed them sold up here til i saw these yesterday. My face looked like a big sunrise as I had my first taste of them last night!

                                                                                              (meh-loh-mah-KAH-roh-nah)

                                                                                              http://www.food.com/recipe/melomakaro...

                                                                                              they are technically xmas cookies but they told me they're going to have them all the time.

                                                                                              Also, their almond macaroons are the real thing. By that, I mean, the French style, with almond extract, almonds, egg whites, sugar, flour. Chewy wonderfulness!

                                                                                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                                yesterday we both got the amazing roast pork sandwich w/ leek and mushroom relish and feta. oh BOY mr. bill. ( abundant pork and very abundant leek relish, and definitely best when eaten warm)

                                                                                                i haven't yet trekked over to brkline for the wkend pork sdwich at cutty's but it will be very interesting to see if it can top this one.

                                                                                                oh, also.... it's easy to not notice the spanakopita at the left end of the register area. it is special because of the homemade flaky filo-like dough used on it. filling is very good but a bit sparse. it's all about the homemade toothsome Flake of that wrapper!.
                                                                                                2 types- spinach and cheese, and just cheese.

                                                                                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                                  stripes, by any chance was that you and the ms there this aftnoon? I stopped in for pork sandwiches and melomakarona.

                                                                                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                                    Nope, not me...

                                                                                      2. Not about yogurt, but didn't want to start a new thread on Sophia's. Their takeout menu doesn't appear to be available on the web, so here it is:

                                                                                        Dinner - $9.49 meat, $8.49 veggie. Comes with choice of soup or salad and dessert.

                                                                                        Monday: Moussaka; Baked vegetables
                                                                                        Tuesday: Roasted lamb & potatoes; artichokes a la polita
                                                                                        Wednesday: Baked fish; baked giant beans
                                                                                        Thursday: Pastichio; Baked Eggplant
                                                                                        Friday: Soutzoukakia; Zucchini Fritters
                                                                                        Saturday: Sophia's special.

                                                                                        Soups: $3.99
                                                                                        Lentil, bean, seafood, avgolemono, spicy Asian beef, lobster bisque

                                                                                        Sandwiches: $6.99

                                                                                        Victor's lamb, Luke & Niko (roasted pork), Beef-sabi, Greek island chicken, Business-class tuna (grilled tuna with avocado), Gobbler (turkey and cranberry mayo), American Alps (ham and swiss), Hellas burger, Middle Eastern veggie, Godfather (prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato), Eggplant supreme.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Pia

                                                                                          I've been meaning to repost too. They have some killer charcuterie their now as well: delicious smoked dried beef (that would be $25 a pound at Formaggio) for 1/3 that and smoked veal ribs that I have yet to try that look amazing. The prepared foods look killer too.

                                                                                          1. re: Pia

                                                                                            i really like this woman owner, don't get me wrong. she's great. i love the melomakarona and the pork sandwich if it's not sat too long and if she has the good iggy's bread in stock. but i have not been impressed with her soups or her moussaka. and unless something is a stew or soup, i think 'chafing dishes'/hot tops/etc. don't do any favors for protein entrees. but hopefully, as she grows, her equipment resources will grow as well. such a nice person.

                                                                                          2. Just to let everyone know who has been questioning the nutritional data of the yogurt, according to Sophia, one cup contains 80 calories, 1.6 grams of fat, 10 grams of carbs, and 6 grams of protein. It tastes so amazing (in my opinion, better than the full fat Fage) and it has less calories than the 0% Fage! Does anyone know how it's possible for it to be so nutritionally perfect yet taste like a full fat product? I always thought that the intense straining of greek yogurt concentrated most of the calories, fat, etc. in a much smaller portion and thus makes it very fattening, even with 2% milk? And this is so thick and creamy that I imagine it must be very, very strained.

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: peg40

                                                                                              I sorta agree with you.

                                                                                              We can always send a sample to a nutrition lab.

                                                                                              1. re: peg40

                                                                                                I adore Sophia, the store, and especially the amazing yogurt. But there is no way this yogurt is that low fat. I've had such stress the last year that I can't eat much at all, so when I do eat something that's even moderately fat, my GI system rebels big time, especially if I eat it on an empty stomach. I had some of the yogurt the other afternoon after not eating anything since the evening before.....wow, did I have awful cramps. I agree that this is the best tasting yogurt ever and it must be strained for a very long time!

                                                                                                1. re: Madrid

                                                                                                  I don't believe those nutritional figures for a second. Suppose she's using 2% milk. Per cup of 2% cow milk (and, roughly, per cup of low-fat unstrained cow-milk yogurt), there are 120 calories. If you strain it down to half its original volume, and don't lose any calories in the process, you'd wind up with a product that has 120 calories per half cup, or 240 calories per cup. Now, perhaps you *do* lose some calories by straining off the whey, and perhaps a cup of 2% goats/sheeps milk has fewer than 120 calories. But even skim cow milk has 80 calories per cup, which should result in more than 80 calories per cup in a yogurt product (since you'll need more than a cup of milk to yield a cup of strained yogurt). Also, Fage 2% yogurt has, per 7 ounce serving, 130 calories and 4 grams of fat. If Sophia's is denser than that (and I've had it and it sure does seem denser and fattier to me), it would have to have at least that many calories/at least that much fat for the same volume.

                                                                                                  I'm going to wager that Sophia's yogurt has at least 150 calories per cup, and possibly as many as 300 calories per cup, if it's concentrated to say, somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of its original milk volume.

                                                                                                  That said, I love the stuff, but am eating it in 1/4 cup servings or even smaller.
                                                                                                  It makes absolutely mind-blowing frozen yogurt, FYI.

                                                                                                2. re: peg40

                                                                                                  According to Sophia, the numbers she gave me are from the state health department, so I don't know what to think.

                                                                                                3. I can't imagine being able to eat a cup of Sophia's yogurt at a time. My limit is about four small spoonfuls.

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: djd

                                                                                                    Oh, dear, if I had that kind of sense my hips would be much slimmer, lol! Well, I honestly couldn't eat that much in one sitting, but I must confess to eating more than a few small spoonfuls!

                                                                                                    A common way to make homemade yogurt thicker (this is what I used to when I made yogurt) is to add non-fat milk powder. I need to do some experimenting using Sophia's yogurt as a starter. If I (ever) get around to it, I'll be sure to post the results here on CH. I'm wondering if this could be why that yogurt is so heavenly. Besides the obvious Mediterranean magic at work:. I'm inclined to believe Sophia has put some sort of spell on that yogurt.

                                                                                                    Madrid, I had another thought (besides the alchemist one above, lo). If you are - or have developed - any degree of lactose intolerance, that could cause the same results you experienced. I suffer fr this, although I've been very lucky in that I can still enjoy a bit of cow-dairy products with no aftereffects.

                                                                                                    1. re: djd

                                                                                                      For that very reason, i don't buy it. It is a wonderful rich-seeming delight for many people, but I always use yoghurt as a necessary partner with Indian foods, and I want lean and acidic, not sour cream.

                                                                                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                                        youall might be interested in this post about sophia's being used for a new local froyo place in brookline:

                                                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/782862

                                                                                                    2. I love their yogurt and their hummus. Hands down amazing.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: sfumato

                                                                                                        One yogurt to rule them all..

                                                                                                      2. Also I believe this is the yogurt used in the incredible granola and yogurt breakfast at 3 Little Figs in Somerville--also a great place if you are nearby, I highly highly recommend it.

                                                                                                        1. Finally tried this stuff (at Area 4 in Kendall Square--they serve it with granola, candied nuts and honey). Delicious! I loved the tang and the fluffy texture.

                                                                                                          15 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                            Agree Sophia's is wonderful. Another utterly delicious but different experience is Sidehill Farm yoghurt (I purchase it at Eastleigh Farm in Framingham). It is produced in Ashfield, MA and it is made from milk from grass fed cows. It is richer but lighter tasting, and it is less tangy. Amazing how diverse and wonderful good yoghurts can be!

                                                                                                            1. re: whops

                                                                                                              Nice tip. Grass fed has to be yummy.

                                                                                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                I wonder where they get their grass in the winter?

                                                                                                                1. re: Infomaniac

                                                                                                                  Hay bales/grass feed?

                                                                                                                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                                                                                    Maybe it's a seasonal thing but I would think there has to be a difference in taste produced between fresh grass and dry hay bales.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Infomaniac

                                                                                                                      I would think that it does as well. I've noticed that summer ricotta from Narragansett Creamery is markedly better than its winter ricotta. I know this is highly unscientific, and perhaps even a total product of my expectations. But there you go.

                                                                                                                      Side note: you should really get your hands on some Narragansett ricotta in the summer. I've been known to eat whole containers of it in inappropriately small amounts of time.

                                                                                                                      1. re: xerxes_xerxes

                                                                                                                        Your not crazy, summer fresh grass fed dairy is definitely better than winter, hay fed...

                                                                                                                        1. re: xerxes_xerxes

                                                                                                                          I haven't seen any NC products near me but did try some of their Feta cheese last year visiting a friend in Chatham. It was tasty enough that I asked my friend what kind of Feta it was.

                                                                                                                    2. re: Infomaniac

                                                                                                                      Hay is still grass. It's just dried grass. They probably eat hay all along, otherwise it would be "pasture fed." Either way, it's different from "grain fed" or TMR (which is total mixed ration and is what most cows eat.)

                                                                                                                      1. re: Parsnipity

                                                                                                                        Come to think of it, could the cows eat a winter cover crop like a winter rye?

                                                                                                                    3. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                      I'm a little skeptical that there's much difference between grass fed and how other milk cows are fed. Meat cows are fed corn - meaning non-local meat cows. Dairy cows tend to be fed grasses, meaning some form of hay and some fresher grasses along with grain. Hay can mean anything, from straw (which has less nutrition) to alfalfa (which seems to be a treat for them) to flax to other grasses. Big producers like Stonyfield probably get most of their milk from pastured cows. There are rules for what's considered pasturing; they have to go outside much of the year, etc. Remember, the purpose for feeding meat cows grain is to bulk them up as fast as possible for slaughter. They generate a payback in meat for the calories put in as grain.

                                                                                                                      1. re: lergnom

                                                                                                                        There is a HUGE difference in products from dairy cows that spend appreciable time on pasture, as opposed to dairies where they are fed DRY hay, alfafa AND grains. Dairy cows are definitely fed grain to supplement other feed.

                                                                                                                        Straw is NEVER used as feed. It is the chaff from other grains or grasses. It is not really edible and generally used as bedding or for lining stalls to make the removal of waste easier..

                                                                                                                        In Italy you can buy Parmesan made from milk from pastured cows from different seasons and the taste differnce between say winter pasture and spring/summer is very obvious. If you can taste the difference in just what time of year they were pastured, I assure you you can taste the difference between cows that are allow to feed predominantly on grass versus those that are just fed dry hay and alfalfa.

                                                                                                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                          These differences in taste (and I agree that they're there) are most noticeable in unpasteurized milk, and in products -- such as parmigiano reggiano -- made with it. Pasteurization produces a more uniform, cooked taste and masks the underlying differences.

                                                                                                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                            Read my post again. There are rules for what is considered pasturing - it's like 120 days a year. If a cheese is locally made and then delivered to you with minimal handling and managed refrigeration, it will of course taste better. Some of that is expectation and some is real differences.

                                                                                                                            I spent many summers on a farm. There was a 50 cow dairy farm on the corner. BTW, the cows I knew really liked alfalfa.

                                                                                                                            1. re: lergnom

                                                                                                                              Cows may LIKE dry alfalfa, but the milk won't taste as good. Cows like eating grain just fine too.

                                                                                                                              An no sane farmer feeds a cow hay, that's for bedding.

                                                                                                                              Don't really care what the rules are, cheese made from cows that have been eating Fresh grass absolutely tastes better.