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Dallas BBQ Food Fight!

This week, Ed Levine at Serious Eats goes to review Dallas BBQ, one of NYC’s mini-chains that is always packed but rarely reviewed. His assessment: not as bad as I expected, super-cheap, fries are better than Shake Shack fries. Then Josh Ozersky over at The Feedbag gets annoyed that Levine paid any attention to this place at all and says it deserves to close and is awful. Now even the local food bloggers are picking up on the burgeoning conflict. Expect bloodshed soon.

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Email woes

If you sent an email to our “info” address in the last two weeks, and wonder why you didn’t hear from us, or if it bounced back, please resend it. Apparently our server was attacked by monkeys and that address was wonky for the last little bit and a lot of emails didn’t get through. It’s fixed now, however, so resend your message if you’d like.


It’s true! People are disgusting.

Last week in The Guardian, Tim Hayward put up a brief post about a librarian who had a book returned with a piece of bacon inside, apparently being used as a bookmark. He then writes one of the queasiest paragraphs I have ever read:

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Most of us, curled in our favourite reading chair with a steamy mug of something reassuring will have come across a previous reader’s biscuit trail, crushed into the page gutter. There’s something lovely about the connection with others who have loved the same book…I can never resist tasting the crumbs.

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.That sound you hear is one million readers gagging at the thought of picking off the dried bits of food you find stuck to the pages of a library book and eating them. He then asks his readers to join him in the comments section and tell the world what they do with food besides eating it. The horrifying results after the break.

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Money, money, money.

I recently overheard someone expressing shock that I charge $13 for the portobello mousse at Dirt Candy. As they said, “It’s just mushrooms and some bread!” I understand sticker shock as well as the next person, trust me, but one of the most common misconceptions about restaurants is that the price of a dish has anything at all to do with the ingredients in that dish. I figured that with all the new readers we have, this might be a good moment to link back to a previous post about how restaurants price their food, called “Why is my tofu $17?” Happy reading!

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It’s all about the Benjamins.

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Starchefs Wrap-Up

Well, that was fun. I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of the rock n’roll chef lifestyle before, but with the Starchefs Congress in town I got a chance to live the dream, and it made me feel kinda cool.

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We’re back to normal business here at Dirt Candy, but after the break: humiliating stories, beaten by ice, lots of pictures and the flower arrangement that almost killed me.

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Starchefs

This Sunday the Starchefs Congress starts and it’s probably the biggest industry event of the year. I’m incredibly honored to have been named one of their Rising Star Chefs but this means that from Sunday through Tuesday I’m going to be wrapped up in events at the congress. So expect the next post on this blog to be a recap on Wednesday of everything that happened at the Congress.

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In the meantime, here’s a really nice interview they did with me. It’s long, but I feel like it’s one of the first times I’ve gotten to just talk, and talk, and talk in public and I’m hoping I don’t sound like too much of a blowhard and that it gets across some of what I’m trying to do at Dirt Candy.

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Dirt Candy will be open like normal on Friday 9/18 and Saturday 9/19 but we’ll be closed on Tuesday 9/22 due to the Starchefs Congress. But we’ll be back to normal on Wednesday 9/23.

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How Not to Open a Restaurant: Part 2

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The second in a series of posts about how Dirt Candy came to be built. Thrills! Chills! Evil plumbers! Mentally ill contractors! Shakedown artists! Ransom demands! If you’re thinking of opening a restaurant, then read these entries and avoid my mistakes. Plus, there is entertainment to be had in reading about bad things happening to other people, so I’m offering my bad things to brighten up your day.

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(Read Part One: The Beginning)

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I had a location. I had (almost definitely) a liquor license. I had an architect (the long-suffering Craig Kim of Audo Architecture). Now I needed a contractor. Choosing a contractor is a bit like choosing your mugger – you want someone who won’t hit you in the face and will maybe let you keep $5 for cab fare. Unfortunately, we didn’t find that kind of mugger. We interviewed a couple of contractors and whittled it down to two: Moto and Anthony. Actually, when I say “whittle” what I mean is that these were the only two who would show up at meetings and give us a quote. This was taking place in late 2007 and that was when the real estate boom was going big and most contractors were imitating Naomi Campbell and wouldn’t get out of bed for under $10,000.

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This is what Dirt Candy looked

like at this point.

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Moto was a nice guy who had done a lot of work building restaurants in the East Village, but he played his cards close to his chest. I wanted a communicator, someone who would keep me in the loop, and Anthony and his foreman, Colin, seemed genuine, nice, kind and efficient. They would give us schedules, updates, weekly site meetings and paperwork tracking the project. It seemed wonderful – contractors who would talk to us and keep us informed of their own free will. Sure they hadn’t built a restaurant before but they seemed game for the challenge and this space is only 350 square feet. What could go wrong?

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Everything.

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Let Us Eat Local

This Wednesday, September 16, at the Prince George Hotel (15 East 27th Street), we’re participating in Let Us Eat Local, a big fat food event celebrating local food and beer that’s sponsored by Just Food. A ton of other restaurants are on the team, including Blue Hill, Park Avenue Autumn, Jean Georges and more, more, more!

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Dirt Candy is going to be making its portobello mousse and it’s paired with Captain Lawrence Smoked Porter beer. We’re doing the local thing, and our portobello mushrooms are from John Madura’s farm in Middleton, New York. Aren’t they pretty?

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John Madura Farms have a stand at

pretty much every farmer’s market in NYC and

their mushrooms rock.

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All the Let Us Eat Local early bird tickets (both VIP and riff raff) are sold out, but there are still tickets both for VIPs and for normals for regular admission (ie, not early bird, but…latey bird, I guess?).

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The event kicks off at 6pm and there are full details over here. You can buy tickets there, too.

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Mario Batali will eat you now

A teaser trailer is up for the new low budget horror movie from New York City horror guy, Larry Fessenden. It’s called BITTER FEAST and why do you care? Because it has chef Mario Batali in a role. Here’s the synopsis:

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Joe Maggio wrote and is directing the story starring James LeGros as a New York chef and TV personality who takes culinary revenge on a critic who savages his restaurant. Josh Leonard plays the critic and Batali will portray the restaurant owner.

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I’m sorry, but I find things like this really funny. And James Le Gros gets poster billing and Mario Batali doesn’t? What a world, what a world.
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(The teaser is here, not much to see, no Mario Batali)

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Back in NYC

Annnnd…we’re back. Dirt Candy re-opens tonight and resumes normal business hours.

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A Parisian door expresses the joy

I feel over my vacation ending.

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In case anyone’s interested, Paris was great (duh). One of the highlights was a meal at Shan Gout, a Sichuan restaurant that was totally empty when we showed up and stayed that way all night. The meal, however, was amazing. We basically ordered the entire menu and it was just the cleanest, freshest most intense flavors. An amuse of sliced green apples with basil was incredibly simple but unexpected and  truly great.

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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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