A.G. Newsletter #42: Dos Toros, Shake Shack, A Beet Sandwich, Pimm's Cup, The Pork Chop at Prune & Spasso

Hello Good People of The Amateur Gourmet Newsletter,

So sorry for my absence last week! It was Memorial Day and I decided to honor it by not writing a newsletter. And next week I'm heading to New Orleans for the first time, really, as an adult (and as an eater) so there probably won't be a newsletter next week either. But, in the meantime, you have to go to this post (and check out my new banner while you do) and let me know where to go and what to eat!

Also, I've been busy getting my new web show "Someone's In The Kitchen With..." off the ground. My guests this past week were Cara and Phoebe from Big Girls, Small Kitchen, and if you missed that video, you can watch it here. This Wednesday, look for my next episode where I interview Doug and Bryan, creators of The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck!

Now let's talk about food...

I was so happy when I learned that Dos Toros, a reputable Mexican joint (rare in New York City), was opening up in the West Village. Here it is on Carmine Street, just off of Bleecker:

I had a burrito with pork, sour cream, cheese, salsa, rice, black beans and all the usual stuff people get in a burrito:

It was mighty tasty! The pork was extra tender and extra flavorful and the burrito itself had a notable texture; incredibly pliant and soft. I liked it. I will be back.

* * * * *

A springtime ritual for us is to go to the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park and to wait on the huge line for a burger and fries. This year we brought our friend Chris D. and had an excellent time waiting and chatting. The ony problem was finding a table once we ordered; that's rough business. A very nice woman and her boyfriend actually saw us struggling and when they saw a table open up, they snatched it for us! Wasn't that nice? Who says New York isn't full of good samaritans.

Here's Chris with his Chicago-style hot dog and Craig with his burger:

And here's my burger and fries up close:

When you wait an hour in line for a hamburger, it better taste like the best hamburger you've ever had in your life. This came close. And those fries are quite lovable.

Let the ritual live on!

* * * * *

Last week I found myself at Jeffery's on Christopher Street which has been transformed since it first opened. At the beginning, the whole front section was a grocery. That's gone. Now there are tables there and the whole place is so much cozier.

Curious when I saw it on the menu, I ordered a beet and goat cheese sandwich for my lunch. Here it is:

There was so much going on with this sandwich!

There were the beets, ruby red, and possibly pickled: they had a deep vinegary flavor. There was the creamy goat cheese and then, to gild the lily, a garlicky pesto. Plus the whole thing was beautifully grilled like a grilled cheese as you can see in the picture; probably slathered in butter before it hit the hot pan.

It's a wonderful sandwich, but I have to register a small complaint: when I was done eating it, I was still hungry. Not a sandwich to eat to fill you up for a full day of writing and revising (my primary activity these days). But a good sandwich to eat, say, if you're having an early dinner.

* * * * *

Our British friend (and neighbor) Kath was having a farewell party for her British friend Laura right underneath our apartment. At this party, Kath was making Pimm's cups though Kath says the British don't call them "Pimm's cups." Just Pimm's. Here's what it looks like:

You essentially buy Pimm's (a gin-like liqueur) and mix it with lemonade (you can also use Ginger-Ale or Sprite) and a bunch of fruit (strawberries, oranges) and cucumbers cut up. The end result is the most refreshing of summer drinks. You should look up a recipe and make it when your British friend returns to England sometime soon.

* * * * *

On Friday night, Craig's manager Emily came to stay with us and took us out to dinner as a reward. We got to pick the place. I picked Prune. Wouldn't you?

Of course, everything there was wonderful (it really is one of the best restaurants in New York.) It's like eating at someone's house. I started with a celery salad that came with blue cheese toasts on the side (you've seen that before in a previous newsletter) but for my entree, I ordered a pork chop so out-of-this-world I'm still thinking about it:

I mean, really. This was a big, fatty hunk of meat, brined in some kind of magic potion and grilled to absolute perfection. Every bite was a small miracle and by the end I was gnawing at the bone like a savage animal. This gets my vote for best pork chop in New York City.

* * * * *

Finally, last night we tried a new place in our neighborhood called Spasso.

We shared this shaved summer vegetable salad that was anything but subtle, with hits of Parmesan and anchovy in every bite:

We also shared this unbelievable appetizer of house-made stracciatella cheese that's pulled fresh every morning. It's not-to-be-missed:

For my entree, I had a basil maccherone with mussels that I liked a lot but didn't love. The presentation was a little sloppy, the fresh pasta slightly undercooked (and stuck-together) and the whole portion wasn't enough to be dinner:

This dessert, though, should be a new sin on the list of 7 Deadly Sins. A chocolate tart with a layer of caramel and salt sprinkled on top:

If the devil made a candy bar and then turned it into a dessert, that would be it.

Ok, folks, I'm off to do the final revisions on my book (due Thursday!)

I'd say until next week, but it's really until the week after next week...

Talk to you then!

Your friend,
Adam (The Amateur Gourmet)

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