May 5, 2010
It’s not often you find a place that advertises “New York’s Best” on their awning and actually backs it up. Gem Spa, the 24-hour newspaper store on the corner of St. Mark’s Place and 2nd Ave. upholds their awning’s claim of serving “New York’s Best Egg Cream.” With the near extinction of old school coffee shops and lunch counters, Gem Spa’s weathered syrup pumps and brand-less seltzer spout help create a near perfect version of this classic New York soda shop drink of yesteryear. An egg cream is composed of three ingredients (and egg is not one of them): whole milk, seltzer and chocolate or vanilla syrup. The key, and this is where Gem Spa excels, is the creation of the sweet, foamy head crowning the drink. Methods for creating this vary, but one thing remains constant: a vigorous mixing of the core ingredients with a long silver spoon. Ray, at 24-hour Ray’s Candy Store, on Avenue A and 7th Street, employs a seltzer dispensed over the back of the spoon method prior to mixing. Gem Spa just goes for the post seltzer mix. Either way, it’s a simple, refreshing and super sweet drink that reminds us food does not have to be complex to be delicious.