I am not a snob. Well...not much of one. Okay, I am a little. Especially when it comes to chain concepts and corporate restaurants.
Like Starbucks has some good stuff but I'd rather go to my neighborhood coffee joint for an eggy bagel sandwich and a tall iced coffee (just a splash of milk please). Not only does it usually taste better but it just makes me feel better. You know, supporting local, helping out the little guy. Or gal. Or gender non-specific. You get where I am going here...
So when I got an email from the PR firm behind Nekter, a juice bar I have only walked or driven by with no intentions of going in because, yep, it's a chain, to try some of their new summer treats at first I was thrilled. But then I had my concerns.
Now, when I did his Dunkin' Donuts media event a few months ago I had the same reaction: 'Hey thanks for the invite...but it's probably going to suck'.
Turns out the Dunkin' event was a blast, I got a lot of cool free stuff and the spring line of donuts were awesome. Knowing that and putting my pettiness aside, I responded with a "I'd be delighted!"
So on a very hot afternoon, I made my way to the Nekter on Grant Ave. to see what all of this "juice" and "smoothie" and "healthy cleanse" business was all about. On a wider spread scale though...
|Okay Nekter...let's see what you got|
When I walked in I was immediately greeted by district manager, Chris Crawford, who, just a day earlier had been in a bit of a slam bang in her car. Trying to avoid a racoon, in her new car, Chris swerved and went off the road and slammed into a pole. But, here she was, smiling and eager to get me sampling some of the Nekter goodies.
I like that work ethic. So I was impressed from the get go.
Since I lead a rather "interesting" life as a food writer, I was drawn to Nekter's "Toxin Flush" juice blend. A swirl of fresh spinach, parsley, apples, lemon juice and pungent ginger, it looked intimidating by being so darn green and quite mossy. It smelled potent too. Oh man, was this "heath" stuff going to kill me?
It's a distinct possibility.
The taste was something I am not used to but after the second chug I was pretty much hooked. I could instantly feel the healing properties of that blender spun elixir. My body, not going to lie, kind of buckled under the weight of such freshness and cleansing glory, but it was also thanking me. I do believe the night before I was sampling (ok, I was straight drinking) beers from a newly formed brewery set to open here in Tucson. The owners were also big fans of single malt scotch so after a pint or three, out came the tumblers filled with the oaky hued devilry. To say the least, my pushing 50 body needed a bit of saving. Thank you Toxin Flush!
|Hoo doggies...this stuff is really good|
Next up was a superfood smoothie called the Berry Banana Burst. This calmed my palate down a bit from the astringency from the Toxin Flush with a merry mash of blueberries, strawberries, agave nectar, housemade cashew milk and, yes, bananas. Now I know that smoothies cause a dividing line between those that love them and those that think smoothie drinkers are privileged yoga hipsters who enjoy gentrifying neighborhoods to meet with their standards, but I am here to tell you I really don't care about either side. Because the triple B was double plus delicious.
I stand on the firm territory of all things yum and thankfully, so far, all that Nekter has been putting in front of me, via manager Chris, has been awesome. Maybe its my California rearing and living for 30+ years that has made me reluctant to dive head fast into the blended health mash so adored by moms, or dads, donning babybjorns and complaining that their vegan bacon tastes "too much" like the real deal, but I might have to don ironic thick eyeglasses and arrive on my bike made entirely of recycled penguin blubber to get more of this stuff. Or not. I don't care anymore. This stuff is tasty.
Next up was one of Nekter's handcrafted bowls, and I opted to give the Dragon Fruit variety. First they blend a compound consisting of dragon fruit (obviously), bananas, pineapple with butter and water via coconut into an almost froyo consistency. It is then topped with hempseed granola, coconut flakes, strawberries, more bananas, more pineapple and agave nectar. That's right....hempseed granola. You heard correct. Get over it, this was mad refreshing, almost better than froyo. Thats "frozen yogurt" for you non-froyo rubes out there. This was fun, slightly stunning, cool and, lets just be honest, making me feel better. How? By not being craft beer or slow roasted pig and game for a spell. My aging body needed this moment. A brief time in some lush berry refrigerant replete with more agave sweetness. I actually like this. Am I going to be some midlife crisis juice bar patron who suddenly becomes aware of his mortality and viscerally gives into the whims of mass marketed body benefits due to quick blended nuts, berries and penguin blubber? Probably.
Its just good is all.
Finally, Nekter has something called "skoops", which are vegan, non dairy, gluten free, anti-refined sugar frozen treats. Are. You. Fxxking. Kidding. ME?
Whatever man. Lets delve hacky sack first into this gawdam ish as I really can't stand it anymore. What did I get you ask? The coconut vanilla skoop. That's right...some blend of coconut milk, Madagascar vanilla, even MORE agave nectar then finished with pure sea salt with the addition of some blue and straw berries along with a sprinkle of that colon cleansing granola. How was it?
Crap. Good. It was good! All of it was good. Was it because it was free? No. I get lots of free food and drinks and sometimes hate, hate!, what I have to swallow on spec. This stuff? I liked. A lot. So you'll probably see me at a Nekter near you at some point.
You so very well will.
Just don't say anything to me when you do. Its not out of shame. Far from it. It is out of submission.
You got me Nekter. You win.
|A detox power blend...yes I seriously needed this|
I want to thank all involved for converting me to the powers that be the blended mercy for these guts, brain and inner works of mine in so need of the occasional "healthy" cleanse to ease me into the late afternoon of my life career. Since this visit, I have been back twice, TWICE!, seeing as they gave me a plastic tumbler equipped with a straw with the promise of a discount because of said ownership of plastic tumbler emblazoned with the word NEKTER on the side.
It sits in my car, waiting. Hopeful. And to be honest with you, I don't care who knows. At this point, I want them to know. I want to be free. Pushing 50, I need balance. So when some stumbling chode outside of a dark watering hole inquired about my Nekter vessel, asking if I hated all things right and true with the current state of the nation, I just put two fingers to his cigarette balmed lips and whispered:
"Shh...if you only knew my friend. If you only knew..."
Then got in my car in search of something called the Turmeric Sunrise. Or the Mango Delight.
I don't care.
Just don't ask.
Or look at me.
Also, Nékter reveals all things watermelon this summer. They roll out Watermelon Cooler Juice, a hydrating watermelon drink with a touch of cooling, fresh mint; and the Watermelon Berry Smoothie, a light and refreshing blend bursting with the flavors of the season — watermelon, sweet strawberries, lime chia seeds and a touch of agave nectar.
See you there!
|Thank you Nekter!|
Camera, Typing and Rethinking His Opinion About Chain Juice Bars
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
A 105 degree Afternoon, 2019