Skip to comments.IN SEARCH OF THE BALTIMORE EGG CREAM
Posted on 05/07/2013 4:33:03 PM PDT by nickcarraway
Lost City revives the staple Jewish delis have apparently long forgotten
Old school folks know the riddle of the onetime delicatessen staple the egg cream: It contains neither eggs nor cream.
A classic egg cream consists of half-and-half or whole milk, chocolate syrup (traditionalists insist it be Foxs U-bet Chocolate Syrup), and seltzer. It first appeared during the late 1800s in New York City, but the origins of its peculiar name are often hazy. Some say that the name came from the Yiddish word echt, which means real. Others believe the egg cream stemmed from egg-and-cream milkshakes popular at the end of the 19th century and through the 1920s.
Whatever their history, egg creams had long been relegated to the memories of aging deli clerks and their mostly Jewish customers. Then, in the last couple years, they started popping up at foodie enclaves in New York and in D.C. spots like DGS Delicatessen (which we tried and loved), Farmers Fishers Bakers, and at Buffalo and Bergen in Union Market. When Lost City Diner, the long-dormant Art Deco Station North diner reopened recently, the New York egg cream was on the menu.
We wanted to find more places making the classic fizzy, sweet, and surprisingly refreshing drinks here. We thought that with Baltimores rich Jewish history, wed practically be tripping over egg creams.
Our search began at Corned Beef Row institutions Attmans and Lennys. Neither deli had an egg cream on the menu, but we hoped someone would be familiar with it.
We found an older man behind the counter at Lennys. Has anyone ever asked for an egg cream since youve worked here?
No one besides you.
He knew what egg creams are, but he couldnt think of a single place in Baltimore to find it. Wow, he continued, surprised wed asked. Thats really old school.
We headed down Lombard to Attmans, hoping for better luck. The cashier shook her head. Maybe it was on the menu a while back?
We had higher hopes for Suburban House, affectionately known as S&H, a Pikesville landmark offering old-style Jewish deli items with a median customer age that seems to hover in the 70s. Joe Stowe, an owner of S&H for the past 28 years, said the egg cream was on the menu for years. It was removed in 2008 but longtime customers still ask for it.
Now, the closest thing to an egg cream on S&Hs menu is a chocolate soda, made with Foxs U-bet Chocolate Syrup and seltzer. Its popular with his younger customers, he says.
Stacy, a manager at nearby Millers Deli, can also make egg creams if customers request them of him.
But with younger people, he said, the more popular drink is again the chocolate soda. When we asked about his recipe, he just smiles. I make mine extra chocolatey, with lots of chocolate syrup. Thats why people keep coming back.
While Stacys chocolate soda is a delicious treat (dont sleep on Millers corned beef or hot dogs either), its still not the original egg cream we set out to find.
Giving up on old school and settling for retro, I made one final stop, at Lost City Diner, which has a laser-like focus on old school soda-fountain offerings.
Owner John Rutoskey, a Baltimore-area native and longtime soda-fountain enthusiast, remembers visiting diners with his parents when he was young. In reopening Lost City Diner, he wanted to emphasize nostalgic fountain drinks, like the egg cream, that he loved as a child.
Rutoskey tracks the disappearance of the egg cream to the 1950s, when fast-food restaurants like McDonalds started replacing diners and soda fountains. Most people your age think its actually made with an egg, he said.
Rutoskey uses a classic egg cream recipe he found from a fellow enthusiast. He even ships Foxs U-bet Chocolate Syrup straight from the Brooklyn factory where its made.
He adds 2 tablespoons of Foxs to a glass, then fills it about a third of the way with half-and-half. To finish, he uses a powerful jet spray of seltzer that stirs the ingredients in the glass without having to use a spoon. This method preserves the bubbles in the drink and gives the top a frothy appearance.
Rutoskey plans to add more forgotten old school drinks to his menu in the future. I think I might be the only restaurant in Baltimore where you can find a real egg cream on the menu.
As of now, I think he might be right.
egg creams .... yum
I had one in NYC, it was so good.
It just sounds like an ice cream float, with the ice cream melted.
Sad to say we lost our Borders. I miss the drinks.
Carbonated Chocolate Milk.
My Brother worked two Summers at a Jewish camp in the Adirondacks. He said they treated him really well but he just about couldn’t take the food.
Is a Rubin considered Jewish? Whatever, they are good.
Also called a Fizz Egg Cream.
No I mean Joseph’s big brother, you know the one who isn’t quite as mean as the others.
borders was great on Sat night: great drinks, live music and a good book.
Joe’s luncheonette in Brooklyn made the best ones. They served it with a pretzel rod.
I had one of those at Borders. The raspberry was my favorite one too.
I suppose the name just sounds Jewish. They are good alright. Probably my favorite sandwich
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