Always ready for a new outing, the Brummeler family partook in one this past Friday. Stony Brook is currently on Spring Break and we just finished week one of our two week break. Instead of taking a trip somewhere, the vote was to stay home and to enjoy some day trips (surprisingly it was J and A that felt the most strongly about staying home).
On the agenda was a trip to Itgen’s Ice Cream Parlour in Valley Stream, NY. Ever since I purchased my annual copy of the Jan/Feb issue of Saveur and learned about this place, I knew we would need to take a trip to visit this establishment. Saveur’s first issue of the new year covers the top 100 food-related picks of the magazine’s food writers and editors. This year Itgen’s Ice Cream Parlour made this list—number 26 to be exact. Itgen’s opened in 1967 and is family owned, and has a regular crowd. As customers walked in, I heard them being greeted by name and asked if they wanted “the regular.” Someday, I would like to have that sort of familiarity with a restaurant or coffee shop.
Valley Stream is about an hour’s drive from our house. We planned to arrive in time for lunch and then order ice cream. J and A ordered pancakes and bacon for lunch while Brad and I enjoyed burgers. The highlight, of course, was the ice cream. All of their ice cream is homemade along with all the toppings. After we placed our ice cream order, I sat and watched our waitress make our whipped cream. Amazing! At a place like this, I went with the notion that a good old fashioned hot fudge sundae would be elevated to the next level, and I was not disappointed. If you order a sundae, you must include the topping “wet nuts.” They are walnuts in sticky syrup. Believe me, they are sickeningly good. And, just like the article promised, our waitress wasn’t stingy with the portions. Once we had eaten all we could, it didn’t even look like we had eaten that much! While Itgen’s isn’t fine dining, it has the charm of a local place that serves really good ice cream and toppings.
After we left the restaurant, it seemed too early to drive back to Stony Brook. Brad had spent some time figuring out some possible options for us, and one of them included a drive along the south beaches. (Stony Brook is on the north side of the island and has rocky beaches so if you want to see sandy beaches you head to the south side.) While we were still figuring out where to go next, I spotted a Salvation Army and for grins we decided to stop. In my experience, a Salvation Army can be a hit or a miss in terms of inventory. This visit was definitely a hit!
As I wandered through the furniture section, I noticed a beautiful, large farm table. Upon further examination, I realized it was in great condition and was solid wood. I quickly found Brad and called him over. There wasn’t a price tag on the table so we found an employee and asked the price. He then told us the table came with six chairs and pointed to some lovely upholstered chairs that looked brand new. He called over another employee and the two started talking the price of the table. I thought, “Oh, no, the price is going up by the second.” After some discussion, the female employee came over and told us the table and chairs were priced at $300, but they would take $250. I tried really hard in that moment to not look very excited. This table looked like the ones featured in my Pottery Barn catalog that started at $1500 and didn’t include the chairs! We were now faced with the dilemma of getting this table back to Stony Brook—an hour’s drive away. Brad and I got on our cell phones and started calling friends, trying to figure out a way to get the table and chairs home. Brad also took advantage of the moment to see if the store would accept $225 for the table and chairs. To my great joy, they agreed and we bought the table and chairs.
Yesterday found Brad and me driving back to the store to load the table and chairs into a friend’s Suburban. Fortunately, the suburban had a roof-top rack because it quickly became apparent that the table wouldn’t fit inside. Of course, it was one of the windiest days on record with high wind warnings posted for the entire island. We made it home safely, but I think I gripped my steering wheel for most of return drive home.
As much as I love this table, I am even more drawn to the image of what a table represents. I believe a form of grace is extended every time people gather around a table and share a meal—whether it is at a farm table or at a card table. I look forward to sharing many meals with family and others around this table. I love the fact that we can easily sit 10-12 people. And yes, I look forward to bragging just a little about my new bargain. What amazing bargins have you found?