Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Messing with the Egg Cream

In the New Yorker's Talk of the Town last week, Shake Shack czar Danny Meyer messes with the egg cream at his Whitney Museum restaurant, making it with "organic chocolate from San Francisco" instead of Fox's U-Bet, giving it "a more leathery, berry sweetness." A leathery egg cream?

The Atlantic also gave it a try. Meyer's restaurant manager "boasted of the house-made chocolate syrup and the 'hand-crafting' of the egg creams," writes Corby Kummer. "But the syrup? A bit faint in flavor, ever so slightly chalky on the aftertaste. I asked for another with Fox's U-Bet syrup."


Meyer's Whitney Museum Egg Cream, Serious Eats

I don't understand why people keep messing with the egg cream. It started around 2008 when Chocolate Bar in the East Village aimed to "reinvigorate" the supposedly dying delicacy with flavors like hazelnut and cappuccino. As we saw here, the egg cream was alive and well. Still, the devolution had been set in motion.

Since then, the egg cream has endured many humiliations at the hands of so-called artisans. This spring, we heard about the egg cream "course" at swank 11 Madison Park: "made with malted milk syrup and vanilla beans, Battenkill Creamery milk and seltzer from one of the last suppliers in the city that refills old-school bottles. In a four-star flourish, a splash of olive oil is added with a silver oil can from Tiffany & Company."

(Watch the precious procedure here.)


11 Madison Park, NY Times

If you're looking for a good, authentic, non-"artisanal" egg cream, go to Eisenberg's, where they use U-Bet and no other. Or just head over to Ray's Candy for a plain old chocolate in a paper cup--cheap!


Brooklyn Farmacy

More egg creams:
Egg Cream Tour 1
Egg Cream Tour 2

25 comments:

Melanie said...

Ray's on Avenue A continues to rule the egg cream world.

Rachel said...

Always heard Gem Spa was the ipso facto on the egg cream circuit...

maximum bob said...

Friggin' eggcream moonbats...

Anonymous said...

Great article. But I must say, the egg cream at Eleven Madison was not only a surprise, but pretty damn incredible.

Bowery Boogie said...

it's the same shit with shaved ice. stop "artisinalizing" the hell out of traditional treats. so annoying.

Carol Gardens said...

At least Farmacy is trying to do it the classic way with Fox's and seltzer from the fountain and a real glass! (Why do I always find myself defending the place on blogs? I guess because people hate everything on blogs, even cute ice cream shops.)

Jeremiah Moss said...

i have mixed feelings about Farmacy. it's a beautiful shop, and i obviously like nostalgia. had this place come along 20 years ago, before nostalgia was hipsterized and Portlandized and artisanalized, it would be easier to be fully on its side.

still, it's a good place to take one's mother.

Grand St. said...

"Hand-crafting" a/k/a stirring.

Todd Barry's got a routine about joints that boast "house-cut" french fries:

"Whoa! Hold the phone! Are you telling me that you guys are doin' all your fry cutting in house? That is unheard of! Most restaurants ship that out to some Indonesian sweatshop where young boys chop up the fries for 50 cents a day...Man, did I come to the right place!"

esquared said...

next thing you know the egg cream will also be splashed with truffle oil, vodka and proseco infused, with a dash of gold dust...

i was about to say the same what boogie said -- it's not just the egg cream that they're messing with, it is all the new york staples such as hotdogs, shaved ice, pizza, etc. those and the chinese bun and the fried chicken (at crifdogs, pulino's, momofuku ko and the dutch and wherenot) have already been artisanned. next thing will be bagel and bialys, reuben and pastrami sandwiches, the gyros, knishes, falafels, churos, et. als, and those too will be artisanal and be messed with farm fresh organic and natural ingredients from the mountains of kilimanjaro, certified-biodynamic and grass fed, poached, seared and oven roasted, brined, with a dash of punk urbanity to a make it a lyrical pastoral cuisine...

Goggla said...

Olive oil? Blech! I love Ray's, but will have to give Eisenberg's a try.

How about just staying true and simple?

norman said...

I've tried Egg creams all over town and feel one towers above all the others - Sammy's Roumanian. For presentation, ingredients and taste. Eisenberg's seltzer doesn't have the kick that Sammy's does, plus Sammy's uses nearly frozen milk, which makes a huge difference.

S. S. said...

Not sure if he still sells seltzer bottles, but Marty the Seltzerman can be found weekdays on the SE corner of Prince and Greene peddling merchandise under the scaffolding.

He may still have his old seltzer connection.

Meanwhile, I buy U-Bet by the gallon on that candy store emporium on the LES.

And, before it closed (due to high rent), the restaurant supply store on the Bowery north of Prince would supply me with a case of four 1-gallon bottles. Cheap.

(I remember the owner, an old Jewish guy, complaining to me during their closing sale, how "Giuliani ruined this city, gentrifying it for the Yuppies, who are going to move into my space now with their f*cking condos."

That was almost ten years ago. True, my man, so true.

Marty Wombacher said...

@Grand St: "Hand-crafting" a/k/a stirring." Agreed! I'll stick with Ray's!

dmbream said...

Ray's. Candy. Store.

Anonymous said...

God forbid someone make an egg cream differently.

There are many places you can get your egg cream just the way you always had it. And many places you can get your old-fashioned hot dog. And whatever. If someone wants to try one with a twist once in a while, what the fuck do you care?

90% of this blog is railing against the homogenization of this city, yet you want your egg creams exactly the same everywhere?

Anonymous said...

@esquared
"(at crifdogs, pulino's, momofuku ko and the dutch and wherenot)"
Having lived here for over 30 years, I feel pretty sure that "crifdogs" doesn't really fit into your list above. ...Or did you just think nobody would ever open a hotdog shop other than Nathan Handwerker?
Crif has been around... what; 12- 13 years?

rkchin said...

just for kicks, here's a couple of soda fountain recipes from 1911 detailing how to make chocolate egg creams, and chocolate malted egg creams. that was when they still used egg and cream in the sodas.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Egg_Cream_recipe_in_1911.gif

here's another, from 1893, a simple egg cream "base" recipe upon which you may add whatever syrups to your liking. the amt of foam depending on the syrup type used.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Egg_Cream_recipe_in_1893.gif

Grade "A" Fancy said...

I don't mind if they artisinalize them in the expensive places, it's that we need the everyman's coffee shop counters and ice cream places, too.

Co-existence is fine, if it could only happen that way.

Anonymous said...

I tried one of Gem Spa's egg creams years ago (when DoJo was still on St. Marks... I feel so old). I don't remember how they made it, but it was good. U-bet, milk, and seltzer from the glass bottle with the syphon... fond memories of my childhood in Brooklyn.

L'Emmerdeur said...

Dear Anonymous 11:49 PM,

If you had actually read enough of this blog to substantiate your "90%" claim, you would realize that the opinion is not about keeping things old-fashioned, but the impact these new "artisanal" places, and their bulldoze-the-old culture, has on the traditional spots: they force them to close down, with the help of City Hall.

I think such fare would be welcome by all if it didn't exact such a high price.

Anonymous said...

L'Emmerdeur, I've read plenty of this blog.

I didn't say the blog was about keeping things old-fashioned. I said it tends to support variety, rather than the encroaching homogeneity.

There is nothing in the original post about the impact the Whitney Museum egg cream will have on the community. (The Whitney, of course, has already been here for 80 years.) Perhaps that's the subtext behind every post. But Jeremiah clearly states, "I don't understand why people keep messing with the egg cream." It does not sound welcoming, if only... I infer his primary issue is with the ingredients. He wants the egg cream to remain an egg cream as he's always known it (never mind how it may have evolved for the century before he lived here).

Jeremiah Moss said...

Anon, you raise something interesting to me, which is the ways different people characterize what this blog is about. i hear it often, "this blog is about ______." i'm curious how people come up with the answer, and what it means about them and how they interpret the blog.

but my answer is, the blog is about a lot of things. sometimes those things contradict each other.

still, they're all in the general area of: a massive, rapid, government-induced cultural and socioeconomic cataclysm has struck New York, a change like never before, and anything that might be related to that requires discussion, critique, grief, etc.

Anonymous said...

Jeremiah, you're right, that was an over-generalization. I do think your blog "tends to support variety, rather than the encroaching homogeneity," but it of course has other purposes as well. (And perhaps, sometimes no purpose, except to share something on your mind.)

James Campbell Taylor said...

Oh no, even NBC are doing egg cream features, with the inevitable stop at Eleven Madison Park. What an abomination.

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/shows/newyorklive/The_Best_Egg_Creams_in_New_York_New_York-128697643.html

laura said...

they are keeping the egg cream alive. its great that this is on TV. havnt had one since 1961? 1962? in brooklyn avenue M, teddy& esters luncheonette. @least there is some NYC tradition that is being honored. stop complaining. & "J" its not "when" a place opens, its "what" the place is. it is what it is, & if you find it beautiful it is.