Whilst some freizes still steadfastedly refuse to return to Athens (*cough cough British Museum), Marissa Tejada is happy to report that frozen yogurt at least has made its way back home…

Any yogurt vs. Greek yogurt. Yes – there’s a difference. Greeks love their version which is luxuriously thick and creamy. These days, you can’t help but find that luxuriousness… frozen.

“You can’t get this anywhere else,” says Eleni Iordanidou, an American ex-pat living in Athens, as she digs a long plastic spoon into a cup filled with her favorite dessert. She is thrilled the Greek frozen yogurt craze finally “came home.”

In line for Greek frozen yogurt

“I’ve had frozen yogurt in different cities around the world. I loved it in the States but when Greeks started making their own, they really made the best.”

I loved it in the States but when Greeks started making their own, they really made the best.

Greek frozen yogurt shops are the latest food craze in Athens. Visiting the city, you are bound to pass one on your way to an archeological site, a Greek restaurant, a Greek beach or a happening Greek club. It all started with Athina Fokas and Katerina Katsandoni when they opened up Froyo two years ago.

“We knew we made it when we had lines down the pedestrian way,” says Fokas who says since then 300 other competing shops opened up around the country.

Fattening up at Froyo

They are proud of their version. Katsandoni pulls out a huge white plastic tub from the shop’s fridge and peels of the lid. “This is what we turn into frozen yogurt. It’s simply 100 percent fresh Greek yogurt.”

She invites me to taste it. It’s as promised. It’s smooth, thick, rich and creamy with a slight sourness – they way I’ve learned Greek yoghurt should be. The kind that’s perfect with a dollop of Greek honey.

“It’s not just about taste. It’s also a healthy natural product containing live cultures. It’s high in protein and calcium. Plus it’s low in calories since it only contains 1.5 percent fat,” says Fokas.

Versions of Greek frozen yogurt are produced and sold successfully abroad for some years now but a visit to Greece not only means trying the actual authentic product – it also means topping it off the Greek way. Sprinkles, brownies and chocolate syrup are so yesterday here. Traditional spoon sweets like rose petals, lemon, and fig are available as well as baklava and pure Greek honey. There’s even kataikfi – what? It’s a sweet Greek pastry that looks like shredded wheat.

They started it all in Greece: Fokas and Katsandoni

As for actual flavors, you’ll find the familiar chocolate and vanilla but in Athens frozen yogurt has come to reflect the traditional tastes of the country. Another shop, called Yasu, serves Greek frozen yogurt flavored with mastiha. Mastiha is a unique herb that originates from trees that grow only on the Greek island of Chios.

Yasu, serves Greek frozen yogurt flavored with mastiha. Mastiha is a unique herb that originates from trees that grow only on the Greek island of Chios.

As for Fokas and Katsandoni, they are proud to have grown to operate a total of seven stores in Greece. They have plans to expand even during the economic crisis. They say they believe they’re doing something right since 80 percent of her clients are Greeks but they are just as happy that tourists appreciate their creation too.

“We had a tourist come in day and night for her Froyo fix during her week long stay in Athens. She said she never had frozen yoghurt like ours before,” says Katsandoni.

Any given sundae

Iordanidou says she would’ve done the same. Luckily, she lives here. She nods, “It’s addictive.”

Where to Go:

Check out the websites and addresses of the aforementioned parlours below:

Froyo
Emou 55 & Kapnikareas, near Syntagma Square

Yasu
The Mall Athens

Yiaourtaki
Monastiraki Square

Yami
Patriarchou Ioakeim  58, Kolonaki

For more on the Greek capital, check out Marissa’s guide to the hip district of Gazi, as well as our weekend guide to the whole of Athens.

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