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Famous Yelp Reviews

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Yelp is an amazing and unforgiving place, where the milk of human kindness sometimes curdles into the bile of molten hatred, and where you can find everything from reviews of restaurants that will make you cry, to paens of praise penned to your local Duane Reade. As I’ve picked my way through the Valley of the Yelp I’ve noticed that even events from the past are getting reviewed. This came to my attention when I found this Yelp review of the Last Supper:

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You can see it larger here.

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But that didn’t compare to this savage takedown of the 1789 March on Versailles:

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You can see a larger image here.

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Even tragic events in American history don’t escape the wrath of Yelpers:

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You can see a larger image here.

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Although I can understand that one. I mean, for the nation it was a tragic night, but for the 200 people there who weren’t the Lincolns it was just another night at the theater ruined. Sometimes Yelp really helps us remember the little people.

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Yelp has even erased the line between real and fictional events, allowing Goldilocks to warn away other children from the apparently underwhelming home of the three bears:

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You can see a larger image here.

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And, finally, in the spirit of the season, let’s hope that Scrooge didn’t check out his reviews the next day. This hate-filled screed from Bob Cratchit’s wife really showed him what’s what:

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You can see a larger image here.

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If I was Scrooge, a fellow small business owner, I’d be hanging myself from Jacob Marley’s chains after that one. I bet never once during his long employment did Bob Cratchit remind Scrooge that he was a Yelper. That might have made all the difference.

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The New Dirt Candy…For Men!

Welcome to the Manliest Virtual Crossover Event Ever. Food writer, Charlotte Druckman, is getting ready to publish her book, Skirt Steak, which is all about women in professional kitchens, based on extensive interviews she did with folks like Gabrielle Hamilton, Anita Lo, me, and a whole lot of other people (out in October). She and I were recently baffled by Men’s Health’s inane competition where they ask readers to vote for the “Manliest Restaurant in America.” I didn’t know restaurants came with secondary sexual characteristics, but apparently I’m wrong. Charlotte has written a take-down of the competition itself, but I instantly panicked. Being competitive, I vowed that if someone, somewhere, was having a competition for “Manliest Restaurant” then Dirt Candy would win. So I’ve made a few changes to the place.

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Welcome to Man Candy, a restaurant for men. Reservations are made fast and our manner is brusque. A guy with no neck named Vito will show up 24 hours in advance of your table and punch you in the face to confirm your reservation. When you arrive at Man Candy there is always a wait. The maître d’ will tell you it’s a half-hour, but 20 minutes later he’ll apologize and tell you it’s another half hour. This will continue until you slip a folded $20 into his pocket, at which point his expression will light up, he’ll welcome you back, and lead you to “your usual table.” This will not fail to impress your dining companions.

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Making a rezzy at Man Candy…for men!

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A Cookbook is Born!

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Dirt Candy: A Cookbook (to give it its official title) is out today! Seriously! People who want to read it don’t have to ask me to send them a copy anymore, they can just go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble and buy it! Online! Right this minute! After two years of work, it hardly feels real that suddenly – boom! – it’s out in the world and toddling around on its little paper legs. This is pretty much how I feel right now:

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There’s been a ton of coverage too, and rather than link to it all piece by piece, I figured I’d put it in one place for anyone who’s interested. I’ll update this post as more press comes in (The Wall Street Journal is coming soon). And if you’re tired of hearing about the cookbook: congratulations! We’re getting close to the point where I stop talking about it.

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The New York Times did an interview with me about the cookbook.

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The Daily News had a two-page spread in their print edition on Sunday.

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Andrea Strong’s Strong Buzz has a really nice review of the cookbook.

 

USA Today says, “I love this book!”

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The Huffington Post has a great review by Rozanne Gold, which is kind of cool since Gold is the four-time James Beard award-winning chef who launched the Rainbow Room and Windows on the World.

 

The Wall Street Journal ran a great feature on the cookbook!

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There’s a video on The Daily Meal and I hope it’s good but I’m not strong-stomached enough to watch a video of myself so I don’t know what it looks like.

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We all talk, maybe way too much, in an interview over at MTV Geek.

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Eater has a good interview, although I should never ask rhetorical questions in interviews. “Is someone lying or do I suck?” Because the obvious response is: I suck.

 

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Fork in the Road: We love you back!

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The Village Voice‘s blog, Fork in the Road, just posted their 2012 Top Ten Restaurants in the East Village list and Dirt Candy is number 9. Squee, I say. And again, I say it: squee. I really love the Village Voice‘s food coverage, and Fork in the Road is a food blog that seriously attempts to do justice to New York City’s culinary scene, so this is a big honor. (And no, I’m not prejudiced. Promise!) No matter how you slice it, to be on a list with big name East Village establishments like Momofuku Ssam Bar and Prune is a blast.

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(Read the full list)

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Dirt Candy on Food(ography)

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Sorry for the radio silence in these parts. Next week will see a lot more posting and an explanation of why it’s been so quiet on the blog and why that will change.

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But in the meantime, Dirt Candy is going to be on the “Restaurants” episode of Food(ography) that premieres at 9pm on the Cooking Channel on Sunday, April 17.

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Host Mo Rocca…looking sexy.

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Here’s the write-up and the day’s schedule
(it’ll air again at 1AM).

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Herbivoracious

Last week, for some unknown reason, a grown man left his wife and children in Seattle and came to intern at Dirt Candy for three days. Normally, this would be the warning sign of an impending nervous breakdown, but in this case it was totally normal. Michael Natkin writes my favorite vegetarian blog, Herbivoracious, he has a book coming out, he’s staged at a lot of restaurants and so when he contacted me wanting to stage at Dirt Candy I was more than a little flattered.

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The thing I like about Herbivoracious is that Michael makes real, restaurant-quality food at home. He’s not aiming to make a simplified home cook recipe, he doesn’t cut corners, and he doesn’t dumb down what he’s attempting. He’s using new technology, and really busting his hump to try to pull off high-end vegetarian cooking at home – the kind of stuff a restaurant would put out without feeling any need to apologize for. It’s hard work, and it’s probably really difficult to do over and over again in a home kitchen, but every week he pulls off a recipe that I would have previously assumed was overly ambitious and too hard for someone working from home.

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Michael staged here for three days and wrote up his experiences on Herbivoracious and it’s the best description of what an average day is like at Dirt Candy that I’ve ever read. I was sad to see Michael go. He was a great intern because he’s staged at enough restaurants to know how to evaluate the work that needs to be done and he knows how to start doing it. Free and competent? It was a winning combination.

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But what really gives him a place in my own personal heaven is that he speaks up about responsible reservation-making:

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Dirt Candy seats just twenty people, and usually does three full turns every night, so at most sixty diners can eat. A six-top that no-shows and isn’t replaced by walk-ins is 10% of the business! Chef Amanda answers the phones herself, re-confirms every reservation, and manages the timing so that no-one ever has to wait for their table. They can’t. There isn’t any place they could possibly stand. Keep this in mind the next time you make or break a reservation (at Dirty Candy or anywhere else)…

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Michael’s piece is a must-read if you’re interested in what it’s like to be in the Dirt Candy kitchen.

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Read Michael Natkin’s experience at Dirt Candy in all its glory.

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Our food comes in pans!

Last week, the company that runs Privy (which is not a toilet located inside a small shed, in this case, but the name of a high end style guide) got in touch and asked for some photos of Dirt Candy to use on a feature they had coming up. I sent them photos, and it was all totally normal. This morning, I saw that the piece had gone up and rather than use the photos I sent, they used a picture of family meals from the Dirt Candy blog. This is the best thing to happen all morning!

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So please, come on down to Dirt Candy and have a giant pan of of chickpeas and fried tofu with an enormous serving spoon and some paperwork strewn around your table. Be warned, however, the stapler is a supplement and it is Market Priced.

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Also, I am feeling really guilty because Privy’s “ideal meal” at Dirt Candy is Spinach Soup (which has been off the menu for over a year), Lemon Sage Gnocchi with Brussels Sprouts which has never been on the menu (I think it was on a press release that went out over two years ago before I was open), and popcorn pudding which, thank god, is actually on the menu. At least their ideal meal won’t be a total loss if they ever come back!

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Dirt Candy on TV

Dirt Candy is on TV tonight and I’m kind of curious to watch. The Cooking Channel (VH1 to the Food Network’s MTV, or something like that) is airing a special tonight, Thursday, Dec. 9 @ 9pm EST called “The Veg Edge” that’ll feature several new vegetarian/vegetable chefs, including Dirt Candy. The show description seems to have been moved off the Cooking Channel webpage but from the tiny description I can find they’re describing me as an “East Village hipster.” Just to be clear, this is a hipster:

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And this is me:

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I’d like to think there’s some small difference. But all questions about “Who’s a hipster?” and “I’ll hipster you,” aside,  “The Veg Edge” is on The Cooking Channel tonight, Thursday, December 9 @ 9pm. And I’m kind of excited to see it. Mostly because I anticipate looking like a dork.

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(the Cooking Channel schedule grid where you can find the show listed)

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NY Magazine Gives us a Shiny Hug!

It’s super-cool to be included in New York Magazine’s list of “The Vegetable Movement’s Must-Visit Restaurants” along with places like Per Se, Dovetail, the Spotted Pig and a bunch more. It’s also nice to be included since Dirt Candy is one of only 3 completely vegetarian spots in this list of 14 restaurants (the other two are Kajitsu, which has two Michelin stars, and Le Verdure which is part of Mario Batali’s Eataly empire).

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It’s a little bit weird to be on this prestigious list with Thomas Keller, John Fraser, Alain Ducasse, April Bloomfield, Dan Barber and Jean-Georges Vongerichten when I haven’t even been reviewed by a lot of the major weeklies (including New York Magazine!), but I’m also really happy to be lumped in with all of these amazing chefs. So I’m not knocking it! The only bummer is that their photographer, Danny Kim, took a ton of beautiful photos of my food (I felt like a stage mother prepping her little darlings at his studio – wiping some sauce off the side of a plate here, straightening some cucumber there – getting them photo ready) and I wish I could see more of them.

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New York Magazine augments the list with a nice long article about the new trend for vegetables in restaurants called “Why Vegetables are the New Meat,” and a photo-piece about six vegetables that are hot right now. They also take a stab at coining the word “vegivore” instead of vegetarian.

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I totally get the urge – the word “vegetarian” has come to carry a lot of unfortunate (and in some cases, undeserved) connotations, and using the “v” word sometimes causes potential customers to conjure up a bunch of unsavory images and associations. It’s not fair, but that’s just the way it is. When I worked at Heirloom, Matthew Kenney was desperate to get people to call the food “vegetable cuisine” instead of vegetarian, but “vegetable cuisine” was just way too clunky to ever catch on. I tried “vegetable cooking” when I opened Dirt Candy, and that’s let me steer a middle ground: vegetarians know I run a vegetarian restaurant, but omnivores are willing to give my food a try, too, because they don’t think of it as vegetarian, even though it is. However, a label for Dirt Candy never really caught on, and for that I’m grateful. I cook vegetables, and I think of Dirt Candy as my lab for trying to do new things with vegetables. I don’t think a label would make that better or easier, and I seem to have carved out a tiny niche without one.

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I admire NY Mag’s efforts to find a new word, but I wonder if vegivore will stick?

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“The Vegetable Movement’s Must-Visit Restaurants” (New York Magazine)

“Why Vegetables are the New Meat” (New York Magazine)

“The Six Staples of Vegivorism” (New York Magazine)

“How a Vegivore Meal Compares with a Traditional One” (New York Magazine)

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Vegetables: Never Good Enough

The CDC issued a report last week with the gripping title of “Eating Patterns in America” and the news for vegetables is dire, as reported by the New York Times. Basically, on the subject of vegetables – Americans don’t like ‘em. Only 23% of meals eaten in the US of A include a vegetable, only 17% of at-home meals include a salad and only 5% of lunches and dinners eaten out were salads. So for all the press hoo-hah about celebrity chefs suddenly praising vegetables, and for all the super-expensive vegetable auctions, and for all the Meatless Mondays and all the farm-to-table blah blah blah, vegetables still don’t have a toehold in the hearts and minds of diners.

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There are a lot of reasons for this, but I think it all boils down to one simple fact: most chefs treat vegetables as second-class citizens.

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sadveg1

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menu


Menu

Snack

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Jalapeno Hush Puppies $6
served with maple butter
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Appetizers

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Mushroom $13
portobello mousse, truffled toast
pear & fennel compote

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Cucumber $12
roasted cucumber hot and sour soup,
black sesame, garlic chili oil, wood ear
mushroom, cucumber jelly

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Spinach $13
spinach & grapefruit mille-feuille,
with smoked pistachios and ricotta

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Potato $12
warm potato salad, crispy Japanese
yams, grilled sweet potato, olives,
bitter greens, apples

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Entrees

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Beets $20
salt-roasted beets, thai green curry,
beet gnocchi, whipped coconut galangal cream

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Pepper $18
fennel & pepper tofu,
parsley spaetzle, grilled
yellow pepper broth,
mustard crumbs

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Broccoli $21
smoked broccoli dogs,
broccoli kraut, salt &
vinegar broccoli rabe

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Corn $19
stone ground grits, corn cream,
pickled shiitakes, huitlacoche,
tempura poached egg

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- everything on the menu can be made vegan on request.

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Dessert

Rosemary Eggplant Tiramisu $12
grilled eggplant, rosemary cotton
candy, mascarpone

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Ice Cream Nanaimo Bar$11
sweet pea, mint, chocolate

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Popcorn Pudding$11
salted caramel corn

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Celery Cheesecake Roll $10
celeriac ice cream, peanut filling,

& candied grapes

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- vegan dessert selection changes regularly, please ask your server.

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Our wine list (and other beverages)

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Gift Certificates

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