Posted by: jevcat | March 2, 2011

My Staten Island: Egger’s Ice Cream Parlor

My drug of choice is ice cream, I admit it.  For as long as I can remember, whatever is wrong in my life, ice cream can make it better.  As long as good ice cream exists and I have access to it, I don’t need Prozac.

Some ice cream is, of course, better than others.  And the best ice cream on Staten Island, and probably in the city (maybe even in the world) is to be found at Egger’s Ice Cream Parlors (there are two) on Staten Island.

When I moved to Staten Island nearly 26 years ago, I started hearing about Egger’s, although it took me a while to get there.  Once I did, I wondered why I waited.  In my early years on S.I., the owner of Egger’s joked that his profits had risen 10 percent since I moved there.  I have been known to pull up to Egger’s with two carloads of friends-and-relations.

Egger’s has been around since the thirties, although I understand the exact location of the North Shore one has shifted somewhat, and the South Shore one, on Amboy Road in a converted house, is more recent.  The current owner trained with the original owner so he could get it just right before he took over.  He did.

I live on the North Shore, so the Forest Avenue Egger’s is mine – alas, only figuratively (although perhaps I shouldn’t be talking about “figures” in the same breath as Egger’s, and maybe it’s just as well it’s not literally mine).

The outside doesn’t look anything special – but then, to do it justice might take something along the lines of the Taj Mahal (although those domes are shaped more like soft-serve, which is not among the offerings at Egger’s).  Inside, it’s pleasant, and the old-fashioned ice cream fixtures and dishes are all there.  As you come in there is a big display of all sorts of mass-market candies for sale on one side, and, except in summer, on the other a display case of home-made chocolates (yum).  Beyond that, there is a counter and, on the other side of a dividing wall, small tables and chairs.

One of the selling points to me when I first came to Egger’s was that I could see, behind the counter, a large powdered malt dispenser.  So many ice cream places had started using the sweeter malt syrup, which changes the consistency of a malted as well as the taste, that I had stopped ordering them.  At Egger’s, the malts of my childhood have returned – they even place the blender container next to you so you can partially re-fill your glass with what wouldn’t fit – and I am thankful.  (It is the only place I allow myself the breach of manners of loud straw slurps to get the last bit of goodness.)

There’s a standard selection of ice cream flavors – no fancy throw-everything-in combo flavors, just the sort of list we had in the sixties, and there are always one or two “flavor of the month” selections.  I love it when I luck into peach or coconut in that category – if it’s the latter, I’ll often get a black-and-white soda with coconut as the “white” instead of vanilla.  In recent years, they’ve even made a few “diet” flavors, in spite of the owner’s having sworn years ago he never would.

My favorite flavor, though, is from another page of my childhood’s book:  banana.  When I was little, a special treat was when my mother and aunt would take me to Schrafft’s, and I would have to act ladylike and grown-up, and in reward would get a cup of Scrafft’s banana ice cream for dessert.  It was disillusioning as I grew up and Schrafft’s faded into slow death, to try other banana ice creams, with their overly sweet and very artificial flavor.  Eventually I stopped trying.  Until my first trip to Egger’s.  Did I dare?  Would it measure up?  Well, I’ve already tipped the answer.  If you like fresh, ripe bananas smothered with whipped cream, this is the frozen version.

And speaking of whipped cream, the kind served at Egger’s would be recognized by your grandmother – and her mother.  Once I watched while the server took my dish over to the door in the counter where the whipped cream is kept, opened it, looked in, turned to me and apologetically said, “Just a minute.”  She tucked my dish into a freezer, removed a large stainless steel bowl from the chiller and carried it into the back, from whence began to emanate a whirring sound.  A few minutes later, she returned with the bowl heaped with fluffy white mounds, removed my dish from the freezer, dolloped on the cream, and presented me with it.

Every visit puts me in a quandary:  Do I get the strawberry malt?  A black-and-white soda?  A sundae with banana and vanilla ice creams and strawberry and hot fudge topping?  (The strawberry sundaes, by the way, are made with real strawberries that have been sliced and mixed with sugar to draw the juice.)  Or those same ice creams with peanut butter and hot fudge?  Will it be butterscotch topping over vanilla or butter pecan or coffee (as good as Hagen Dazs, and I don’t say that lightly) ice cream?  Maybe something out of my ordinary:  maple walnut?  pistachio?  Sigh.

My Beloved’s order is always the same:  a brownie topped with vanilla fudge ice cream topped with mini semi-sweet non-pareils, whipped cream, and a cherry – the cherry is for me; he doesn’t like them but he loves me.  And we both love Egger’s.

[For New Yorkers, from the St. George ferry terminal, the S48 bus will take you to the Forest Avenue Egger’s.]

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Responses

  1. See? I missed this post. That’s what I get–I miss one, and viola, you’re an internet sensation.

    I want that whipped cream, I really, really do.

    Blessings
    jane

    • Believe me, you do! If you’re ever in New York, we can arrange an excursion 🙂 And I was not an instant Internet sensation: the post went up a month before it got linked to Google.


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