Food Studies WEEK: Interview 4 – Chef

foodstudiesWEEKI am beyond thrilled to introduce today’s interviewee, Jeremy Salamon, executive chef of The Eddy in NYC. Jeremy is the little brother of my little brother’s childhood best friend. That’s tough to visualize, but I’ve essentially been watching Jeremy control the kitchen since he was a wee thing, whipping up dishes well beyond the comprehension of all the adults in the room. He’s worked in some of your favorite NYC kitchens like Buvette, Locanda Verde, and Prune, he hosted his own Hungarian-themed pop-up dinners, and he was even a guest judge on Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race! Also, he’s only 23, so there goes your self-esteem.

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If you’re in NYC and want to have a really special meal in an intimate, cozy setting, do yourself a favor and go get the tasting menu at The Eddy. Jeremy is the kind of conscientious, hard-working chef you want to support, and I can’t wait to see what he cooks up next.

This interview covers some tougher concepts like mental health, so I opted out of adding my normal silly GIFs so Jeremy’s honest and thoughtful words can shine.


Q: How long have you worked at The Eddy?
A: About three years now. I started as a line cook, was then promoted to sous chef, and then I left to work on my own project. Soon after, I was asked to come back as executive chef.

Q: How did you end up working in restaurants?
A: No one in my family is in the industry, which is the more common way people come to food. I told my mother when I was 9 that I wanted to do this, but I don’t really know why. I think it has something to do with the fact that I knew my cooking brought my family together. Even when my father lost his business, and my brother was going through stuff, and my parents’ relationship was on the rocks, we all sat down together to eat. So I just associated food with good moments. I thought maybe if I could learn how to cook, I could help heal what was going on with my family.

Q: Wow, that’s so… honest and beautiful and vulnerable. Thank you for sharing that with me.
A: I guess that’s the honest answer, because otherwise I really don’t know. I think about it sometimes, when I’m like, “Why the fuck am I in this industry?” Because it’s kind of terrible.

Q: Speaking of being terrible, what are a few of the major challenges in your work?
A: Definitely communication. Being able to communicate is such a priority and required skill, and if you can believe it or not, there are so many people who lack communication skills. Whether it’s a cook, general manager, waiter, or vendor, if just one small detail is missing, it could really screw up your entire day.

Being able to manage stress, which is something I am learning how to do, and how to be positive for everyone else in the kitchen is also challenging. One negative person can really bring down the entire house. And more so in this industry, people take their work home with them. Some people only have a few hours of sleep and then they get up and do breakfast service at 5AM and don’t get out until 8PM – people take the drama and stress home with them. That’s why industry suicides have really gone up in the last couple of years, and chefs are just starting to be more conscious of mental health. Being sober and anti-drugs is such a big thing now. But now that people don’t have alcohol and drugs to turn to, they don’t quite know what to do with all the stress and where to put it.

Q: I’m glad to hear mental health awareness in the kitchen is on the rise, even if there’s a ways to go. So there must be something about your work that you like if you stick with it. What do you like most about being a chef and working in a restaurant? 
A: First and foremost for me, really honestly, is being able to feed people. Genuine people. I think there are many types of diners in a restaurant, as there are many types of people in the world. When you get a really genuine family, or a pair on a date, or an older couple that’s celebrating their anniversary, it’s so rewarding when they’re into the food and the experience. I love getting a chance to be a part of that celebration, just like I got to be a part of when my brother graduated high school or when my parents had an anniversary. It brought me pleasure to be able to make a cake for my parents or cook a dinner for my brother. So I feel like I’m being somewhat welcomed into their life just a little bit, and for me, that’s a pleasure.

I also love that I’ve gotten to meet so many people through restaurants. I’ve met authors who were writing books and have gone on to publish them. I’ve met famous actors. I’ve met other cooks who are now also executive chefs. Just being able to talk and spend time with people and learn from them is a pleasure for me.

Q: For people like me who have never actually worked in a kitchen, what is the structure and what does executive chef mean? What are some of the other roles in the kitchen?
A: An executive chef is the president of the kitchen. They oversee all the departments, have the final say, and can veto dishes and ideas. Right underneath them is the sous chef which is like the vice president. So when I’m not there, the sous chef steps into my role. The sous chef manages more of the cooks and helps out with the ordering. Below sous chef, there would be almost 100 positions in a classic French kitchen including junior sous chef, lead line cook, grill cook, saute cook, and a garde manger (which is the person who preps all of the cold items).

Q: How does a general day work?
A: The Eddy is only open for dinner service, but we open up at about 9AM, which is when a porter or dishwasher arrives. They start breaking down boxes, cleaning up windows, mopping – all that fun stuff. But the porter also receives all the deliveries that have been ordered from the night before. Those can come in anywhere from 9AM to 3PM. By 12PM, I come in with my sous chef and we’ll start getting the kitchen prepped and set up.

Around 2PM, the other cooks start to come in. We have a team meeting and then we’ll talk about the day, what happened yesterday, what’s on the agenda for today and tomorrow, and what we need to grab from the farmer’s market. Then we’ll do prep and create family meal, which the entire staff eats around 4:30PM. We always have a pre-service meeting, so that includes the general manager, owner, and the waitstaff. We talk about new dishes, new beverages, wine, and service etiquette. Then we open our doors at 5:30PM until about 11PM. I’m there expediting on the line.

Q: What’s expediting?
A: Expediting means I’m calling out the tickets, what’s fired, and what’s ready to walk out the door, where I finish the plates. Since The Eddy’s a pretty small kitchen, I cook and I expedite. Normally I’m working the meat station where I’m in charge of all the entrees and proteins. But at the same time, I have to call out orders, and I have to approve every plate that walks out of the kitchen. I do a lot of multitasking.

Around 11PM or midnight depending on how busy it is, we start to break down. Then we clean up the kitchen and write a list for the next day. Me and my sous chef will place the orders to our different vendors. The last people to leave are usually the dishwasher and the bartender.

Q: You mentioned family meal. I’m just always entranced by this concept of family meal. What is the typical family meal?
A: It always changes depending on the cooks. I really like it when we have a different cook every day that gets to create their own family meal for the staff. I feel like they can express themselves and try out new dishes, or maybe they want to make something that they actually make for their family.

An example of family meal is if we have some leftover chicken, we’ll roast it with this sausage I get from Local Bushel, one of our produce vendors from upstate NY. Sometimes I’ll make fresh cheese and cut some bread up and make a big salad. We normally keep it simple, but I had one cook make this really amazing curry with ginger. It was really luxurious and he made his own naan, so people can get pretty fancy. And other times it’s pretty casual, like taco Tuesday.

Q: If there was one thing you could change, what would it be?
A: That is a loaded finale question! I wish that – and I’m saying this as if there was a genie in front of me that is asking – I wish everyone had the same day off, so the restaurant was closed for a day or two. We’d have to really consider the finances and the practicality of that, but I do really wish it was possible. That way, nobody has to deal with work pestering them, because we spend so many hours there. That’s my wish, Genie.

 

The Museum of Ice Cream is as great as it sounds

OMG did you know there’s a Museum of Ice Cream now in New York City? Are you just finding out about this? Do you think that would be a fun thing to do?

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Too bad. By the time the news hit The New York Times, all 30,000 tickets for the limited-time, summer-only pop up museum were sold out.

Thanks to being a loyal Gothamist reader, I found out about the museum on July 9th and promptly bought four tickets at $15/each face value. I put my tickets up for sale last week on Craigslist for a day for $150, a 900% markup, just to see if they would sell. I had 5 inquiries within 24 hours, and one threatening email telling me, “That’s honestly ridiculous, greedy and downright outrageous. I hope you have zero luck selling these tickets.” While the lady had a point, she clearly didn’t realize how far people are willing to go to experience this limited-time engagement.

If you’re shit out of luck and don’t want shell out one hundred fifty smackaroos, don’t fret: Little Girl Big Mouth is here to show you exactly what you’re missing. Sorry. (Not sorry.)

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Room 1: Ice cream! That you eat!

I had a pretty deep rooted fear that the Museum of Ice Cream was just going to involve looking at ice cream and talking about ice cream and there wouldn’t be any real ice cream consumption. Thankfully, my suspicions were proved wrong within two seconds of entering the building. You start the tour with a custom scoop of ice cream made especially for the museum.

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Blue Marble with Kellogg’s: Organic Vanilla with Froot Loops, Lime Zest, Marshmallows, Passion Fruit Jam

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Scoop shot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Different local ice cream vendors will be offering scoops of custom creations depending on when you visit the museum. Scoop schedule:

7.29 – 8.8: Blue Marble & Kellogg’s
8.10 – 8.15: Oddfellows Ice Cream Co.
8.17 – 8.22: McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream & Maman
8.24 – 8.31: Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
8.8 & 8.15: Black Tap

Room 2: Edible balloons that aren’t ice cream but are still fun

This room is called the “cone room” because it’s decorate with a bunch of waffle cone paraphernalia, but the real star of the show is the candy balloon filled with helium that they hand each patron. The balloon is pretty sticky and disgusting but the results are fun:

Room 3: Creating the world’s biggest sundae with freakish non-melting ice cream

This room was a dud. They tell you some history about ice cream and then ask everyone to pick up a sticky scooper and spoon out some magical non-melting ice cream to throw on top of a goblet. You don’t get to put anything in your mouth in this room, so it is inherently less fun. They also encourage you to take a selfie with the oversized bowl of unknown substance. Non-melting ice cream is an abomination and it upsets me.

 

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I know I look happy but I am truly terrified of the non-melting ice cream

Room 4: The chocolate room, where you can put things in your mouth again

Chocolate! Everyone loves chocolate! This was mostly a space filled with projector screens showing images of flowing liquid chocolate. There was a chocolate fountain in the corner but they tell you in advance not to touch it or drink from it, which I get for hygenic reasons, but still a bummer. Thankfully, there are individually wrapped Dove chocolates all over this room for you to eat while marveling at the melting imagery on the walls.

Room 5: This is what you came for: the (fake) sprinkle pool

The sprinkle pool at the MOIC is probably going to be in the top 5 things instagrammed in NYC this summer. The museum has been pushing this image hard in their promotional efforts, and for good reason: the thing is pretty fucking cool and everyone looks glamorous in a backdrop of rainbows. The caveat: it’s not real sprinkles. The pool is filled with little plastic beads that you find in between your toes hours later. Next to the pool, there are plastic bins filled with gummies, more chocolate, and other sugar delivery devices, so you can literally have your cake and eat it too, or in this case, have your candy and eat it in a pool full of imitation sprinkles.

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Dad wondering what the hell this is

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Even if I paid $15 just to get this photo, kind of worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Room 6: Take this pill and eat this ice cream that came out of nowhere, you’ll be fine, I swear.

As you enter this room, an attendant gives you a pellet of concentrated synsepalum ducificum, more commonly known as magic berries (you can buy them on Amazon for $15/pack). The chemicals in the pellet bind to the sweet receptors on your tongue and make sour food taste sweet for about a half hour. To test the effects, a spooky glove-covered hand appears from behind a wall and hands you tart frozen yogurt and lemon slices.

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Room 7: Tinder is here for some reason

The final room is sponsored in part by Tinder, which doesn’t have much to do with ice cream, but okay sure we’ll go with it. There’s a giant ice cream sandwich you can swing on and an ice cream scoop see-saw. But, again, nothing to put in your mouth, so kind of a lackluster finale.

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My parents are actually pretty cute on this giant ice cream sandwich

So that’s the museum! I got to put things in my (little girl big) mouth in 5 out of 7 rooms, and that’s more than I get in a normal museum, so this was an overall win. Go team!

 

 

Celebrate America with Melted Cheese and New Restaurants

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You can’t blame Boehner for getting emotional – that is some sexy cheese. I also may have cried while eating it.

Get out of your backyard (if you’re lucky enough to have one) and head to one of these new or newish restaurants in NYC.


Santina

This new hot spot right under the High Line is always full of beautiful, trendy people. The palm trees and colorful dishware make you feel like you’re on the Mediterranean coast. The food is light but pricey – buyer beware.

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Cecina with avocado trapenese. Fancy words for chickpea pancake with Mediterranean guac.

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Kale salad

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Tortellini sorrentina – goat cheese tortellini

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Bonus round – Cocktail: Manganelli punch. Comes in a fun pineapple great for taking hilarious “Look I’m drinking out a pineapple!” pictures.

Get it here: 

Santina – 820 Washington Street


Upland

Everyone’s been raving about this new Flatiron place for dinner, but I actually liked it better for brunch. And the room glows with gold light so it makes you feel like your robbing the gold bar supply from a bank. A delicious, heavy breathing-inducing bank.

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Pastry Basket – house-made grapefruit pound cake, baguette, bacon and chive scones, cinnamon sugar donuts, lemon poppy muffin, butter + jam

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Spanish frittata – roasted garlic mayonnaise, espelette + chives. A Spanish tortilla masquerading as a frittata. Still good.

Get it here: 

Upland – 345 Park Ave South


Maman

I’m gonna start some shit when I say this: Maman is the new Levain Bakery. If you don’t feel like shlepping to the Upper West Side and waiting on a 20 minute line for a cookie, Maman’s are just as good.

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Chocolate chip walnut cookie

Get it here:

Maman – 239 Centre St


Gato

This is Bobby Flay’s newest Spanish influenced NYC restaurant. Most of my pictures from here came out really shitty because I had just gotten a new camera and didn’t know what the hell I was doing, so here’s one of the most popular and unique appetizers: scrambled eggs.

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Scrambled eggs, almond romesco, boucheron cheese, tomato confit toast

Get it here:

Gato – 324 Lafayette St


Root and Bone

Southern food is my favorite type of food. I have an unrefined palate and I don’t like sushi or clams or beef tartare or basically anything that “foodies” should like. I might be the worst, but Root and Bone is the best.

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Apricot and ricotti bruschetta

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Grilled peach caprese – gooey pimento cheese croquette, charred peaches, pickled green tomatoes, baby heirloom tomatoes, basil & molasses vinegar

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Macaroni and cheese – big pasta, crunchy cheese & biscuit thyme crust

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Fried chicken & waffle sandwiches – whisky maple syrup, pickled green tomato, watercress, on a cheddar cheese waffle. We didn’t even order this but they brought it to us by mistake and I wasn’t mad.

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Crispy chicken biscuits – tabasco pepper jam, jar of pickles & root chips

Get it here:

Root and Bone – 200 E 3rd St


Raclette

The mothership. This shoebox in the East Village has literally 6 seats in it. You order a plate of vegetables, potatoes, and meat, and they come by with this giant wedge of hot cheese and melt it on top of your food. They have a few other things here but why bother: you know why you came.

They’re doing a solid business in takeout, which I don’t really understand, because how does the cheese melting work? Does the delivery guy come with the wedge of cheese and the contraption that melts it and do it for you in your living room while you watch your 5th episode of Law and Order SVU? Or, much worse, is the cheese pre-melted? Just do yourself a favor and get here ASAP.

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Get it here:

Raclette – 195 Avenue A

 

How to Ball Out When Your Rents Are In Town

I spend all year compiling lists of restaurants I would eat at if I had fistfuls of cash, and then I shove all the reservations into one weekend when my parents come to town. So when Mom visited this weekend, we ate HARD. From thin-crust trendy pizza to fluffy James Beard pancakes, read on to find out how you too can feed yourself and your parents like the morbidly obese kings of NYC.

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(This omelette from Norma’s in The Parker Meridian actually looks vile. Please do not ball out THIS HARD.)

Breakfast: Bubby’s High Line

I’ve always wanted to go here, but every time I’ve passed by it’s been ridiculously mobbed by a rough-riding stroller crew. Also, $10 for a side of bacon… no. We avoided the line by going at the Mom-requested (and Caryn-reviled) time of 9:30AM. $8 Valrhona Hot Chocolate sounds stupid crazy but was worth the price tag. We should have split one entree because everything was HUMONGOUS. I forgot to take pictures because 9:30AM is too early to function, so instead, here is a photo ripped from TripAdvisor of the James Beard-recipe pancakes I ate. And just to illustrate how big they were, I photoshopped myself into them for some perspective.

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Get it here:

Bubby’s High Line – 71 Gansevoort Street, NY, NY 10012 – 212-206-6200


Lunch: Marta

While this place isn’t super pricey, a quick search on OpenTable shows reservations for the next two weeks are extremely limited. You can either eat at 2:30PM with the unemployed or “creatively self-employed” types, or at 10:45PM with the monsters that think that’s an acceptable time for dinner. OR you can plan ahead and make a rezzie for when your parents are in town like a boss.

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Frittura di Zucca – breaded and fried delicata squash rings

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Funghi Pizza – Fontina, Hen of the Woods, Chanterelles, Red Onion, Thyme

Get it here:

Marta – 29 E 29th Street, NY, NY 10016 – 212-651-3800


Dinner: August

My favorite food blog The Infatuation just listed August as one of the must-try new restaurants of Winter 2014. This is a perfect parent place: warm and cozy, a little too expensive, in the Upper East Side, and occupied by a few other “older” people who aren’t instragramming their meals.

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Burrata, Roasted Beets, Walnut Soil

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Roasted Organic Chicken, Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, Black Truffle, Roasted Carrots, Porcini Oil

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Roasted Scallops, Celery Root, Honeycrisp Apple

Get it here:

August – 791 Lexington Ave, NY, NY 10065 – 212-935-1433

4th of July at The Dutch – Corn Dogs and Peach Pie

Happy Birthday America! Can’t believe you’re finally 2014 years old!

(JK.)

Here are some photos of the Ameridiculous cookout menu that was served at The Dutch yesterday. May your long weekend be filled with lots of goodies as rich and fattening as the dishes below. Because THAT’S what it means to be an American.

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Mexican Street Corn with Lime, Chile, and Cotija Cheese

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Corn Dog Stuffed with Cheddar

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Texas-Style Smoked Brisket Plate, Watermelon, Hawaiian Sweet Roll, Potato Salad with Bacon

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Peach Pie, Blackberry – Buttermilk Ice Cream

Get it here:

The Dutch – 131 Sullivan Street, NY, NY 10012 – 212-677-6200

Let’s Get Outdoor Food Wasted

After the soul-crushing frozen tundra experience that was Winterpocalypsegeddon 2013-14, this weekend’s first appearance of above 80 temps made me very, very happy. Like the rest of NYC, I took to the streets to absorb all the sun-soaked Vitamin D my body could handle. I also decided to do the same with calories.

My first stop was Tacombi at Fonda Nolita, a covered space that still feels like a cool outdoor patio with string lights and high ceilings. Real live Mexican person Fernando Acevedo came with me and says this is one of his favorite authentic spots in NYC.

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Also there’s this old VW bus where tacos come from. Neat.

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Spiked Horchata with Rum. Tastes like rice pudding but makes you drunk. Super.

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Agua Fresca de Jamaica. Jamaica = Hibiscus.

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Guacamole con Totopos

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Barbacoa (brisket) Taco and Crispy Fish Taco

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Pollo Quesadilla and Pollo Adobo Taco. Highly recommend the quesadilla if you like cheese (which you should.)

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We poured this sauce on EVERYTHING.

Get it here:

Tacombi at Fonda Nolita – 267 Elizabeth St, NY, NY 10012 – 917-727-0179


On Sunday, I wandered around the Chelsea/Meatpacking area. Passed by this sign for Doughnut Plant on West 23rd Street and had to stop because LOOK AT THOSE MAY SPECIALS:

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I grabbed two of their smaller donuts, “doughseeds”, and headed to the High Line.

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Mango Doughseed

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Banana Pecan Doughseed

Get it here:

Doughnut Plant – 220 W 23rd St, NY, NY 10011 – 212-675-9100


Ever since I heard about the old school soda fountain opening at Bubby’s High Line, I’ve been dying to get my hands on an ice cream soda. SO. MANY. FLAVORS.

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While the menu looks cool, the space was a little underwhelming. I expected a counter with metal stools staffed by soda jerks serving frosty specials in tall glasses, but this is really more of a grab-and-go ice cream joint. Sundaes are served in Chinese takeout containers which is… confusing?

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Black and White – Chocolate Soda with Vanilla Ice Cream. This was pretty delicious, but it took them a few tries to make it correctly. I hope this place works out the kinks so I can come back and try everything (milkshakes, sodas, sundaes, and pies included).

Get it here:

Bubby’s Soda Fountain – 71 Gansevoort St, NY, NY 10014 – 212-206-6200