This week Tom gets his teeth into a few American-style fast-food favourites.
Well, that’s it for the cook-at-home boxes. For the time being at least. Brilliantly put together as they often were, and crucial in keeping so many places afloat, I simply cannot wait to get back into a restaurant, to breathe in that succour-scented hubbub, to revel in the clatter of knives and forks.
It’s been nearly five months since I’ve sat down and had someone else bring me a drink while I choose food that someone else will cook. Not delivered, spilt and half cold, on the back of some scooter. Rather spirited to my table by a lovely waiter or waitress and placed merrily before me. All I need do is eat, and thank the Lord for the joy of restaurants.
So next week, Eating In becomes Eating Out once more. Hooray. But before that, one last blast, this time draped in the Stars and Stripes. First up, Shake Shack, a burger place imported from New York, and founded by the universally adored Danny Meyer. I was rather sniffy when it first skipped over the pond. But my children are obsessed, and I’ve grown to love their taut, pert hotdogs, cheese-drenched crinkle-cut fries and no-nonsense burgers.
In fact, I’ve probably ordered more DIY ShackBurger kits (plateaway.com; £25 for four burgers plus £4.95 delivery) than anything else over the past 12 months. Because they’re as simple as they are satisfying. Fat pucks of fresh ground Aberdeen Angus beef, smashed thin in the pan, then topped with American cheese and stuffed between soft, pillowy potato buns, with a slice of tomato, a leaf of lettuce and a splodge of their creamy/sharp ShackSauce. Four big bites of juice-dribbling burger bliss.
Moving south down the East coast to Philadelphia, and Passyunk Avenue’s Philly Cheesesteak LoveBundle (passyunkavenue.com; £32.99 for four sandwiches plus £5 delivery). Fry the onions, set aside, then do the same with the decent, thin-cut ribeye steak (rather better quality than most of the stuff you’d find back in Philly). Add the cheese (I loved their own-blend Cheez Wiz, although Provolone and American are also available), mix it all together and pile into the crisp, freshly baked rolls. Subtle it ain’t, but heftily glorious it damned well is.
Drinks: Olly celebrates a special grape
Sauvignon Blanc Day (7 May) is the perfect excuse to enjoy this zesty, uplifting grape. Sancerre in France produces elegant examples at top-whack prices; for good value choose wines from nearby Touraine. Marlborough in New Zealand delivers tantalisingly tropical Sauvignon Blanc – for similar wines at great prices seek out Leyda Valley in Chile. But Bordeaux whites are my top pick for underrated gems.
WINE OF THE WEEK: BORDEAUX SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 (12%), £8, Marks & Spencer. Joyfully bright white with a tropical twist. Superbly zesty and great value.
IRRESISTIBLE LEYDA VALLEY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2020 (13.5%), £7.50, Co-op. Searing and bright as a pink grapefruit lightsaber.
GROVE MILL MARLBOROUGH SAUVIGNON BLANC 2020 (12.5%), £8.95, thewinesociety.com. A tropical sunbeam of a wine – succulent and scrumptious.
LE VIN DES COPAINS TOURAINE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 (13%), £9.99, Waitrose. A luminous peach! Zingy, fragrant and wonderful.
CHOTARD SANCERRE 2019 (13.5%), £19.95, bbr.com. Soaring and vibrant as a world-class soprano, this star sings from the glass.
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