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The Potato Salad

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An unholy combination of three different dishes from three different countries, the Dirt Candy Potato Salad is the lightest, crunchiest, most delicate potato salad you’ve ever had in your life.

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Rabbit Pie

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One of my goals at Dirt Candy is to base every dessert around a vegetable. That’s sort of a trendy thing to do right now, but I’ve been working on it for about five years, and while it sounds like a terrible idea, I’m constantly surprised at how well it works out. Case in point: Carrot Meringue Pie with Sour Cream Ice Cream and Candied Carrots.

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Smoking or Non-Smoking?

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Smoking is one of those techniques that home cooks stay away from because it seems intimidating and complicated when, in reality, it’s really easy. Smoking food steps up your game, and it’s something I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of, so in the spirit of giving away my few secrets, here’s Dirt Candy’s Rough Guide to Smoking. Get ready to impress people!

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Impressed, yet?

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Setting Traps for Popeye

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I wanted to make Spanakopita. That’s all. I was just a nice girl who wanted to make a savory Greek pastry full of spinachy goodness, the kind of thing you’d use to bait a trap for Popeye. And then I told my sous chef, Danielle, and she told me that she would pull off my head and beat me to death with my spinal column if I asked her to make the phyllo dough my Spanakopita required. I don’t need you, Danielle. I can make phyllo dough all on my own. Then I tried to make phyllo dough but all I made was sadness and tears.

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So I gave up on my Spanakopita, and I made Spinachkopita instead.

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Our Beets Can’t Be Beat

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Last summer I started thinking about beets and beatings and I realized that I wanted to make an aggressive dish. A really aggressive dish. The kind of dish that throws people up against the wall and gets all crazy and in their face but in a totally lovable way, like Murdock on the A-Team. And so I made beets. These beets.

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Beets

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The Truth About Brussels Sprouts

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Winter isn’t just coming, it’s actually here in a serious way, and that means that while technically you can eat brussels sprouts all year round (since growing seasons don’t actually exist anymore) sprouts are now an unstoppable force and sometime in the next two months you’ll be confronted with them on your plate, staring up at you with their brussely eyes.

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They’re watching you…

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Considering how much people hate brussels sprouts, it’s no surprise that they arrived in North America courtesy of the French. Originating in Louisiana, these miniature cabbages started growing all over the place and their hardiness and high nutritional value resulted in them being forced down the throats of millions of horrified children all over the continent.

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These days, brussels sprouts are regarded as culinary poison, but it doesn’t have to be this way. They’re actually the best vegetables of the winter, and the problem lies not with them but with us: we don’t know how to cook them.

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Dirt Candy Birthday Toast!

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The last week of Dirt Candy’s 5th Birthday Party is here! This week, from 1/28 to 2/1 we’ll have Mushroom Toast on the menu. This is my riff on Hong Kong’s famous snack, Shrimp Toast.

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Born in Hong Kong, shrimp toast became an Australian snack favorite and a staple of Tiki-themed menus in Polynesian restaurants across America in the 1960′s. My version has replaced the shrimp with shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts and Chinese chives (along with a bunch of other secret ingredients). The ingredients are chopped fine, spread on triangles of bread, then deep fried and served with a spicy chili garlic sauce. They’re the kind of thing I could eat about a dozen of at once, which makes sense. If doughnuts are just sweet fried bread for dessert, then Mushroom Toast is just savory fried bread for dinner. What could be better?

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Carrot Cake is coming…

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I feel very strongly that a dessert isn’t a dessert unless it’s got chocolate in it somewhere — to hell with bowls of berries and candied kumquats. But there’s one vegetable that’s crept into my heart via the dessert menu, and that’s the lowly carrot, sweetest vegetable in the garden. Right now I’m working on a version of carrot cake that I think is going to be a lot of fun. Here’re some rough photos to give you an idea of the state of the dish.

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Dining at Dirt Candy with Dietary Restrictions

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A lot of people come to Dirt Candy and ask what we can do if they have a dietary restriction. Figuring it’s better to put that info online where anyone can take a look at it, here’s what we can do for you:

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Vegan? Every dish at Dirt Candy can be made vegan, and nothing goes on the menu without there also being a vegan version (that is sometimes even better than the non-vegan version). There are no annoying “V”s or weird symbols on the menu, just tell your server you’re vegan when you sit down and we’ll take care of the rest.

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“I thought YOU guys were going to bring the vegan scones? WTH, dolls?”

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Gluten-free? At Dirt Candy we do everything possible to help give our gluten-free diners options. Every appetizer on the menu except Spinach can be made gluten-free. And both the Beans! and the Corn! dishes can be made gluten-free. As far as desserts go, only the Popcorn Pudding can be made gluten-free. Let your server know you’re gluten free when you sit down and we’ll take care of you.

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Allergies? We’ve handled everything from basic nut allergies to allergies that I’ve never heard of before. Let us know, the sooner the better, and we can deal with it. Preferably let us know when you make your reservation, not when you show up for your table. That way we can try to give you more options.

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“I told you, I’m allergic to surrealism and nonsense!”

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If you have allergies or restrictions besides vegan or gluten-free, please let us know over the phone when you make your reservation (if you do it via Open Table, just give me a call afterwards). That way we’ll be prepared for you and can do our best to make sure you have a fun dining experience. We can still handle it if you don’t tell us until you sit down but it may mean you have less options and the kitchen is going to have to scramble, which is no fun for anyone.

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Party of 17 stuffed and mounted kittens who can only eat sawdust?
No problem, because they let us know in advance!

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We don’t want you to feel weird about any issues with food you have, but we are limited in what we can do for you by our small kitchen and the size of our staff (tiny) so the earlier we hear from you, the more fun we’ll all have.

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Best of the Blog: What about food?

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Over the course of the 600 posts on this blog, I’ve written about food a lot. I’m always talking about new dishes that come on the menu and how they were created and the hours of failure and frustration that I experienced before each dish finally made it to the menu, so if you want that just click on the Food tag and it’ll all start rushing out at you.

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BeBestie

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But one thing that’s always surprised me is how little attention the wine gets at Dirt Candy. Since the beginning, I’ve gone out of my way to serve really strange, exotic, and under-served varietals and while a small percentage of people have come to love the wine program here, most people just aren’t aware of it. So if you want to learn about a bunch of very strange wines, the Wine tag is for you.

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There are lots and lots of family meal cookbooks because people assume that when the staff of a restaurant has a meal together they save all the best food for themselves. Not true. I documented the 240 family meals we ate at Dirt Candy over the course of a year. Every single one of them. There are a lot of eggs.

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What’s my favorite thing to eat in the entire world? The crack in a jar marketed as Speculoos.

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My second favorite thing? Toronto street hotdogs.

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I own a lot of cookbooks. Sometimes I just like to page through old ones and tremble at their artwork. Vegetarian cooking from the 60′s? Like staring into the abyss. By the way, want to read the definition of “vegetarian” from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica? Be my guest.

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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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