To close the school year, The Hilltoss has finally introduced its last menu option: the acai bowl.
The Hilltoss opened soon after the Healey Family Student Center this November with a salad menu, and it added smoothies to its assembly this semester. In order to provide staff with adequate training for each new product, it waited until this week to unveil the acai bowls, but has done so just in time for finals week.
To maintain its good reputation, The Hilltoss sought to provide a new option with the acai bowl. While they decided to serve salads and smoothies based on school-wide student feedback, the acai bowls were more of a directorial decision from the Students of Georgetown, Inc. staff, since many Georgetown students have never heard of the product. The goal of providing acai bowls, according to Cedric Lewis, Director of The Hilltoss, is to bring something new to campus.
Acai bowls are a health trend originating in Brazil, where the acai berry is grown, and have become increasingly popular lately because of the incredible antioxidant benefits of the acai berries and the delicious taste of the bowls. However, while they are common in Brazil and increasingly popular on the American West Coast, particularly in California, the trend has not quite picked up on the East Coast yet. So, The Hilltoss decided to take the opportunity to introduce them.
An acai bowl is quite similar to an edible smoothie with toppings. The base is a smoothie-like substance, with the acai zest. Common toppings include granola and fruit, although they vary by recipe.
The Hilltoss features two types of acai bowls: the Ponta Negra, which is the Brazil-inspired recipe, and the Catalina Island, which is inspired from the Californian variation.
The Catalina is the more breakfast-y of the two. It features the acai base topped with raspberries, bananas and blueberries, aesthetically arranged in red, white and blue, while granola lies underneath them. The acai berry is fruity, but mild. The berries and bananas add to its sweetness, while the granola helps balance out the fruit flavors. This bowl is a perfect breakfast food as a single serving is precisely the right size to be filling but not overwhelming.
The goal of the Ponta Negra is to be more dessert-y, and so it has a sweeter taste. Most notably, this bowl’s acai base contains guarana, which is another trendy Brazilian supplement that contains caffeine. This bowl has pomegranates, bananas, blackberries and coconut shrivels on top as well as granola, and the fruit is arranged in visually pleasing circles.
The Ponta Negra is certainly richer, and a bit sweeter, than the Catalina. Still, it is a natural and fruity, rather than heavy and sugary, type of sweetness that could easily serve as a breakfast or an afternoon snack. The pomegranates were my favorite part of the bowl, although I would also recommend them for their slightly richer flavor and the guarana boost.
The Hilltoss employees have clearly been trained about the acai bowls and will readily answer any questions about the taste, ingredients and health benefits of the bowls that customers may have.
The greatest challenge of the bowls is obtaining the right consistency. Since they are eaten with a spoon, rather than in a cup through a straw, some firmness is desired. My one complaint was that my Catalina bowl was more liquid than solid and continued to melt as I ate it. Possibly because of the slightly different ingredients or possibly because of the person that made it, the Ponta Negra bowl was firmer. However, I suspect that customers will definitely find the consistency of these products to be a bit hit-or-miss.
Nevertheless, I would certainly encourage Hoyas to try the acai bowls. Anyone who likes fruit and smoothies (which is just about everyone) should enjoy their taste, and The Hilltoss has thus far made sure to use fresh ingredients. Acai bowls come at a reasonable price and a good size while containing numerous health benefits and tasting good, making them perfect for students wanting to cool down from finals and the increasingly warm weather.