I’m in a New York state of mind

6 Jul

I’m a New Yorker (well, a Long Islander but it still counts). One conversation with me and you’ll be able to figure it out pretty quickly. Even beyond my not-that-heavy accent, and as much as I hate to admit it, so much of New York/Long Island is part of who I am–my knack for Jewish geography, my love of Billy Joel, my fanaticism for the Mets,  my hatred of New Jersey and my insistence that New York food is vastly superior to all others.

I can’t help it. New York food is just better. Have you ever had a bagel from somewhere that is not New York? It’s horrible. Pizza? Same thing. Diners? Find me a diner that’s superior to a New York diner and I’ll give you a quarter (or a guest post). And where else can you find an ethnic foods buffet in every strip mall or on every city block? Chinese food restaurants are just as common as Dunkin Donuts and everyone I know can probably recite the phone number to her favorite Italian restaurant from memory.

Although Jews are not known for our stellar cuisine, I would be remiss in my discussion of the superiority of New York food without a mention of kosher delis. I don’t know what goes on in the kitchen at kosher delis but the food is a-mazing! I imagine the rabbis in the back, reciting a secret blessing of the delis which thereby produces some of the most delicious food known to man. In my meat eating days, there was nothing better than a kosher hot dog and a knish (ka-nish; the “k” is pronounced) with a black cherry or cream soda (Dr. Brown’s!). And now, in my not-eating-meat days, there’s nothing better than a knish and a Dr. Brown’s. 

Well, that’s not entirely true. There is one thing that’s better than a knish and a Dr. Brown’s. That thing is an egg cream. The egg cream originated in a candy store in Brooklyn (although there are some other possible sources) which means New York gets to own this fantastic beverage. Sure, it sounds gross but it is insanely delicious. Let me explain. An egg cream is a fountain drink that is made with neither eggs nor cream. It is similar to an ice cream soda but egg creams are made with seltzer, whole milk and either vanilla or chocolate syrup. The finished product is like drinking liquid diamonds. It’s that good.

Some words about the ingredients. The seltzer needs to be really bubbly in order for the egg cream to taste right; try to use a freshly opened bottle.  Many restaurants or coffee shops that sell it (shout out to The Coffee Shop in the Plainview Shopping Center) will have it in their soda squirty-thing (I don’t know the real name of it) to give it that nice, carbonated taste. The milk must be whole milk. Do not use skim or 1%;  it’s just wrong. And while most syrups are acceptable to use, Hershey’s actually tastes a bit weird in an egg cream.  I’ve tried to make one with Hershey’s and there’s just something in it that make the drink taste slightly off.

I’m not sure why these three ingredients work so well together but they do. I can only imagine what the creator’s face looked like the first time he concocted one in his candy store. I think it looked something like this:

File:Mad scientist caricature 2.png

 Then I think of the trepidation that first customer had when being presented with the drink.  I imagine it looked something like this:

But then I imagine the pleasant surprise on the customer’s (or more likely, the creator’s poor wife) face and the utter elation felt by the creator. I imagine it was a moment of sheer bliss. A moment when they both realized what they were unleashing on the world. A moment my taste buds are really, really grateful for.

If you get a chance, make sure you try an egg cream. Not only is it an affordable, easy to do-it-yourself drink, it’s one of the only drinks I can think of that tastes better without alcohol.

New York Style Egg Cream


  • 5 oz seltzer
  • 3 oz whole milk
  • 2 tbsp vanilla or chocolate syrup


  1. Mix the syrup and milk together
  2. While mixing, add the seltzer and continue stirring
  3. Drink

9 Responses to “I’m in a New York state of mind”

  1. Jaimee July 6, 2010 at 10:30 pm #

    So my dad used to always talk about the egg creams he would get for a nickel at the corner store (lol) and we used to make them. The funny thing was we HAD to use a seltzer maker, not out of the bottle, and the only acceptable syrup is fox’s U-bet. I’m not sure where they sell it, im sure it’s in a supermarket somewhere. And I agree..it’s delicious!

    And the coffee shop in plainview isn’t there anymore 😦 If I’m picturing it in the right place, it’s now a liquor store.

    “Those were the days”…says the 23 year old

    • theemptykitchen July 7, 2010 at 5:24 am #

      the coffee shop is a liquor store?! that is just wrong.

  2. Tia July 7, 2010 at 7:53 am #

    I’ve never had an egg cream, I guess that’s me missing out from being raised in Delaware. Although I LOVE Dr. Brown’s soda. Hard to find around here, but when I go visit relatives in Washington DC I make sure to have a Dr. Browns and a falafel. I crave falafel like people crave cake or ice cream. YUM.

  3. jaimee July 7, 2010 at 8:09 pm #

    I retract my plainview comment. The coffee shop is next to the liquor store! Silly me.

  4. Sarah July 8, 2010 at 11:46 am #

    you’ve got me agreeing with you on everything but one thing…the hatred for new jersey (that’s where I grew up)!

  5. sm July 9, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

    I was with you all the way up until the phrase “although Jews are not known for our stellar cuisine.” So much of Judaism is all about food, and good food at that. Yes, a lot of that food is a medley of cuisines, but just like Yiddish, that’s part of the beauty of it all.

    • theemptykitchen July 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm #

      although i am jewish, there are many, many jewish foods i either a) will not eat because i don’t eat meat or b) think are just disgusting. admittedly, i am in the minority of jews who think our food is awful (see my post about passover foods) but can you really think of anyone who looks at gefilte fish and thinks “man, i have got to try some of that. i can’t believe how good that looks!” to jews, our food is delicious but of all the good things jews are known for, the cuisine is not in the top 5.

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