“She is a lover of art, words, sweets, and all things Mexican. She thinks from within a sugar skull.” At least that’s what it says in my bio for a poem published in Red Fez a few years ago, which you can read here.
This weekend while indulging a serious Mexican craving, we headed to Playa Betty’s, a relatively new spot on the Upper West Side with a southern California vibe. We have some favorite spots that are closer to home, but we really wanted to relax, and the beachy feel and chance to try another kitchen’s take on Mexican won us over.
Tacos and tamales are two of my favorites, and Playa Betty’s menu is heavy on tacos, which is perfect considering the entire atmosphere brings west coast beach style to NYC. After enjoying a range of tacos including fried chicken, cheese fritter and green tomato relish, and the traditional al pastor, things got really messy and even more delicious. Often Mexican restaurants serve churros, but we had never heard of a churro ice cream sandwich so we had to try it.
Usually I advocate slowing down and taking the time to really experience a dish. Let that notion go if you order this dessert. Between the warm churro top and bottom, melting vanilla bean gelato, and sheer deliciousness of it all, you will not be able to slow down. Take a moment to check out how perfect it looks and then dive in. The churro swirls are perfect – crunchy where they should be and slightly chewy – and not stingy on the cinnamon sugar. The gelato is custard yellow, with plenty of vanilla bean flecks.
In general I find it difficult to linger over dessert. When presented with a beautifully crafted sweet, I am always the first to finish. When everyone at the table is presented with a dessert that virtually forces you to dive in, everyone finishes rather quickly and the meal ends in a fun, delicious – well, mess. The next time I plan a dinner, I may not serve churro ice cream sandwiches, but they will be my inspiration for the final course.