Monday, April 07, 2008

Five Things (Well a Lot More Than Five) That You Probably Don't Know About Me Plus My Egg Cream Recipe

Sylvie of the wonderful Soul Fusion Kitchen (which I will add to my blog roll next time I update) tagged me for my very first MEME -- Five Things About Me.

So here's some things about me that might help explain me, Blog Appetit or both. Since I tend to digress and over explain, I suspect it will end up being 500 things about me.

1. I'm an ex-New Yorker with a not-so-secret weakness for black and white cookies, pastrami sandwiches, subways (and public transit systems of any kind), ethnic enclaves and egg creams (see below). I like the Chrysler Building more than the Empire State, like to ride the Staten Island Ferry, and enjoy wandering around the Upper East Side and the Lower West Side. The Strand bookstore ("18 miles of books") is my idea of heaven as is Kitchen Arts and Letters. My two current favorite museums (besides the Metropolitan) are the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and the NYC Transit Museum (in Brooklyn). I nominate Brooklyn for my second favorite borough (county -- New York has 5) and not just because I was born there! My last "name brand" meal in NYC was at the Spice Market in the meat-packing district, which was wonderful, but I still miss the $1.80 duck lo mein (and big enough to share) I used to get at Wo Hop's when I went to New York University a gizillion years ago. My tourist tip is to buy the day or multi day pass for the transit system. Good on buses and subways, it saves you money and aggravation.

2. While I always wanted to be a writer of some sort, my secret desire was to write the books for Broadway musicals. The book is the "story" part, not the music or lyrics. I have no musical talent, so I guess my ambition was at least partly realistic. At other points in my life I wanted to be a university professor (of history, big surprise there), a marketing vice president, a newspaper publisher and an urban affairs and planning newspaper columnist. I have been a reporter, editor, copyeditor, public relations specialist, marketing communicator, and a few other things. The closest thing I came to writing plays was in second grade. I wrote a stirring one act play on the industrialization of shoe manufacturing in New England. (I think it was second grade, but that seems more like fourth grade sophistication to me). No copies survive. My fantasy jobs now musical book writer (who knows, Broadway musicals could make a comeback), magazine editor and talk show host.

3. I tried to learn tap dancing as an adult. It was not pretty, but it has made me a better critic of tap performances on screen and stage. I prefer Fred Astaire over Gene Kelly, Ginger Rogers over Ann Miller, and still mourn the untimely passing of Gregory Hines. When Fred passed away I put on my tap shoes and lugged out my portable dance floor (which doubled as a carpet protector under my desk chair.) When I was dating my now husband, I took it as a favorable sign that Fred and Mr. Blog Appetit shared the same birthday (May 10). I guess it is no surprise to you that I'm an old-movie fiend, that Turner Classic Movies is my favorite cable channel and my top old movie faves (for now, they change regularly) are Some Like It Hot with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe and Reckless with Jean Harlow and with Rosalind Russell, another screen fave. From screwball comedies to musicals to film noirs, I pretty much like anything that is decently written, well acted and gives a good sense of the time and place.

4. Besides New York, I've also lived in Baltimore, MD, Irvington, NJ (just outside Newark), Palo Alto, CA, San Francisco, CA and now Oakland, CA. My husband grew up in Chicago so I pick up the midwest perspective from him. I still like my pizza with a nicely blistered thin crust, which I eat by picking up the slice and folding it over. Eating deep dish Chicago pizza with a knife and fork just isn't the same.

5. The most recent best thing I ever ate was a roast mutton soup in Xi An, China. It cost about $2. The night before I had a meal that was almost as good in Shanghai. It cost $125.

The Perfect (At Least to Me) Egg Cream

There are still a few soda fountains and candy shops that make this around NYC. The last time I had one it was in the East Village and it was served in a paper cup, which made me feel that you can' t go home again. Think of an egg cream as kind of like the Frapuccino of Old New York.

Large, clear glass
Good chocolate syrup (the traditional is Foxes U-Bet, but I'm not a stickler on this, it should just have a good chocolate taste), more or less to your taste. I like my chocolate strong!
Milk (whole, non-fat, I don't care)
Seltzer Water (sometimes called soda water, but not club soda if you can avoid it -- club soda adds salt which affects the purity of this holy drink. No sparkling mineral waters, either. Use the plain type without any flavorings.)
A long, metal spoon

Add an appropriate to you slug of chocolate syrup to the bottom of a tall class. Pour in about an inch or so of cold milk. Top with seltzer (be careful, it will foam and threaten to go over the top, so pour slowly and add more when the foam subsides if needed.)

Use the long spoon to carefully stir. This will result in a milk chocolate colored drink topped with white foam. Some people prefer to stir twice, once after adding the milk and again after the seltzer is added. This results in an all-brown drink which would leave me aghast, but it is your choice. Some people claim pouring the seltzer down the back side of the bowl of the spoon will reduce the foaming. Since I like the visual of the foam and I'm picky enough about the process to begin with I'll let you decide if you'd like to include this in your egg cream choregraphy. Also I assume you've realized there is no egg and no cream in the drink. Stories abound about why.

Serve with a straw. And maybe a black and white cookie.

Variations: Make it a Reform Egg Cream Instead of an Orthodox one by subbing out other syrups. A vanilla egg cream tastes like a marshmallow. One of the best I ever had back in my New York days was at David's Pot Bellied Stove on Christopher Street. They made it for me with mocha (coffee mixed into chocolate syrup). I think they are gone now, but McNulty's is still there across the street. That's the place I first got into teas, but I digress.

As part of the rules of this MEME I'm supposed to tag five others. I will do so later. Watch this space.

Thanks again, Sylvie!

Bonus Info: My sons used to be very proud of me because I could drive a stick shift.


WhiteTrashBBQ said...

You need Fox's U-Bet syrup for a proper egg creme.

The Original Brooklyn Egg-Cream
* Take a tall, chilled, straight-sided, 8oz. glass

* Spoon 1 inch of U-bet Chocolate syrup into glass

* Add 1 inch whole milk

* Tilt the glass and spray seltzer (from a pressurized cylinder only) off a spoon, to make a big chocolate head

* Stir, Drink, Enjoy

Damn good stuff!

FJKramer said...

We grew up with Bosco's and it was fine. My grandparents always had Fox's so I had that, too. Grandma and Poppa also had seltzer in siphons -- ahhh!

I have overpaid for bottles of Fox U Bet here in California because it is so rich and chocolately.

But not everyone has access to Fox's so I was trying to make the egg cream more accessible.