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What I Did On My Summer Vacation Part 2: Modernist Cuisine

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Before little Dirt Candy goes dark tomorrow (!) I wanted to make sure I put up the second half of my summer vacation, which involved three of my favorite things: lady chefs, lots of food, and plenty of booze. One of the biggest cookbook events of the last four years was the publication of Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine. Of course, the second biggest cookbook event of the last four years was me unwrapping my copy of Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine.

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The pea course involved super-punny placards.

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And in June, I got to go have dinner at their lab.

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Read the rest of this entry »


The Original Moosewood

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One of the coolest things that happened to me while I was touring with the cookbook last summer, was going to Omnivore Books in San Francisco. The store itself was amazing and the event was packed which was great, but the best thing was finding a first edition copy of the Moosewood Cookbook on their shelves.

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If you’re a vegetarian, you have a copy of the Moosewood Cookbook. If you don’t, that just means you lost it. Moosewood is the training wheels to being a vegetarian home cook, the book that launched a thousand plates of brown rice and tofu. The New York Times claims it’s one of the ten best-selling cookbooks of all time. Just holding this spiral-bound, stained, faded, typewritten and hand-lettered cookbook felt like reaching back into the misty past of vegetarianism. But then, something crazy happened.

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The Moosewood Collective in all their world-changing glory.

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One of the people attending the event was Phyllis Boudreau, one of the original members of the Moosewood collective. Moosewood was a vegetarian restaurant operated under collective ownership in upstate New York. Earnest and committed to political change, this cookbook was going to be their big foray into the world. However one of their members, Mollie Katzen, took their name and style and recipes and started publishing her own Moosewood cookbooks without the collective. There was a falling out and the whole thing ended with Katzen getting rich and a lot of hurt feelings and bad blood.

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It was kind of awesome to get to experience some of this history first-hand because this was a major moment for vegetarian food in America, and it reminded me of how many stories in the food world there are outside the sphere of celebrity chefs and French cuisine, and how many of them haven’t been told yet. I wish more of them were getting written down before they’re forgotten.

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Vegetables Get Dirty

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What do we do in the kitchen during service? Now the shocking truth can be revealed. The kitchen crew at Dirt Candy shoots vegetable porn in the kitchen…while innocent diners are eating their meals just a few feet away!!!

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Friendly Tofu

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One thing I love about Japan are its food characters. Everyone has encountered Anpanman, the superhero made of bread, at some point.

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But right now I’m loving the Tofu Oyako brought out by the Devilrobot design group. Described as “cute but toxic” he’s a tiny little guy with a block of tofu for a head.

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Why don’t we have these ultra-cute food characters over here? Why must I go to Japan to fully anthropomorphize my tofu? It’s a crime, is what it is.

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TofuaGoGo

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Scary Cute Vegetable Art

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I wasn’t aware of Kristin Tercek’s art before, but now I’m kind of hooked. Apparently she made plush dolls under the Cuddly Rigor Mortis banner but these days she’s doing gruesomely adorable paintings of living, rotting, dying, hard-partying vegetables. And candy!

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You can see a lot more of her art (both vegetable and non) over on her website.

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Cute Cucumber Binding

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I was cruising around on the ultra-cute E-Obento site (which is all in Japanese but has a ton of pictures) when I came across this device:

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Now that’s commitment! From now on, I’m only going to take restaurants seriously if they grow every single one of their vegetables in fun shapes. Otherwise, they’re just slacking.

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Vegetarian Food Supply

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If you’re reading this blog then you’re concerned about two things: great food and the end of the world. As everyone knows, the ancient Mayans predicted that 2012 would be the year of the apocalypse and since I base almost all my life decisions on the wisdom of Mesoamerican cultures that dominated the world 2000 years ago, I’ve been worried. I’m not sure how the world will end — whether it’ll be a sudden explosion or a long, slow decline into anarchy and mutant biker gangs — but if it turns out to be “anarchy and mutant biker gangs”  there’s just one thing that’s been weighing on my mind.

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Imagine this: the world has ended. You and a few survivors are huddled in the shattered foundations of your home. At night, roving gangs of angry cyborgs stalk you. During the day, you are on guard for Bearsharktopus attacks. And then, today, a doctor shows up. Some of your tribe are suffering from radiation poisoning and zombie bites and you thought you would have to hack off their infected limbs yourself, but with a medical professional on hand things don’t look quite so bleak. You’ll have help! You prepare canned spaghetti and meatballs that you dragged out of the smoking ruins of a Shop Rite store after killing a troop of feral Boy Scouts and you dish out a hubcap full to your new doctor friend. She licks her lips, swallows hard, and then looks up at you with accusing eyes. “I’m a vegetarian,” she says.

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SO EMBARRASSING! Fortunately, Costco is there for you with 275 servings of vegetarian food in a 23 pound bucket. It’s called…Food Supply!

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Here’s what they say: “Making a healthy meal has never been so easy or affordable. Just add boiling water, and in 25 minutes, a mouth-watering meal is ready to serve; priced under 35 cents…”

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Wow! And what do customers say?

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“Good deal for Emergency food! Hope I never get to eat them…”

“This is our second purchase of this product and we haven’t used up the first bucket yet.”

“It is a good feeling to know I have emergency food on hand that can be kept for 15 – 20 years.”

“This was a real bargain. Food is good, we eat it a few times a week. Should save it but it is quick and convenient.”

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Sounds delicious! But what do you get for $99?

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275 servings – 55 pouches per kit (5 servings each pouch)

  • 25 Servings of Cheesy Broccoli & Rice
  • 30 Servings of Vegetable Rice
  • 35 Servings of Creamy Potato Soup
  • 25 Servings of Italian Tomato Pasta
  • 25 Servings of Tuscan Butter Pasta
  • 35 Servings of Barley Vegetable Soup
  • 50 Servings of Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal
  • 50 Servings of Whey Milk

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From the good people at Food for Health. Never be embarrassed by your culinary insensitivity in a post-apocalyptic situation again! For me, this is a huge relief. Thanks, Costco!

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Stop eating vegetables, start making music

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Stop eating your vegetables, and start making music with them instead. The Vienna Vegetable Orchestra is the kind of thing you’d have in America if you still had funding for the arts.

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But if you’re not a joiner, you could always take up the carrot ocarina (and play the Zelda theme song) or you could make a carrot pan flute. If you’re a traditionalist, then you can always get a mechanical monkey and play “When the Saints Go Marching In.” But no matter how you slice it, if all you do with your vegetables is eat them, you’re a quitter.


They’re picking us off, one by one…

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People sometimes ask me why I became a vegetarian.

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This is why:

Dog Kills Farmer With Tractor

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“I will kill you. I will kill all of you.”

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Retro Cookbooks of Despair

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James Lileks has been cataloging sad, unhappy and, at times, upsetting photographs of food from old cookbooks in his Gallery of Regrettable Food for a while, but it wasn’t until recently that I saw his copy of Home Freezing of Fruits and Vegetables in which every handpainted page is an endless vista of pain, suffering and existential angst. Flip through it, if you dare, and feel your soul crumble and its carbonized ashes birth a small, mewling thing made of pain.

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Things take a decidedly upbeat turn for his journey through Cooking and Preserving Vegetables which has inspired me to achieve an alternate plating of the Cauliflower & Waffles:

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Ahhh…cauliflower and pancakes!

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And I’m even getting ideas for a new dessert:

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Everybody say “Treats!”

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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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Tomato $13
tomato cake with smoked feta,
yellow tomato leather, herb puree

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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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