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Holiday Cheer!

Our holiday hours are a complicated and crazy thing, so pay attention or you’ll get lost and we’ll have to start all over.

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Dirt Candy will be closed from Dec. 24 – Dec. 29 for the holidays.

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We will re-open on December 30. But only on Dec. 30. Then we’ll be closed on Dec. 31.

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We’ll be back in business for normal hours starting January 1, 2010.

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Between now and January 1 we probably won’t be posting much on the blog, but we will be updating Facebook. So Happy Holidays to all of you from all of us at Dirt Candy! Your support has been the non-denominational Christmas/Hanukah present that lasted all year long. And here’s a gallery of Holiday sweaters to get you into the true spirit of the season.

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Sweater4

Good.

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Sweater3

Better.

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Sweater1

Confusing.

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Sweater2

Best.

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Who’s Right?

We’re all about edu-tainment over here at the Dirt Candy blog and last week I had a Teachable Moment! Two different tables ordered the Eggplant Fettuccini which comes in a basil broth. One guy turned to me and said it was the blandest broth he’d ever tasted in his life, watery and terrible. Another customer turned to me later that same night and said that it was the most amazing broth he’d ever had: intense and delicious. So the question is: which customer was wrong?

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Broth

Eggplant Fettuccini. The noodles are

black because they’re made with black olives.

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Read the rest of this entry »


Seating Chart

Something that I never expected when I opened Dirt Candy was just how much of my life would be spent managing reservations. With only 18 seats, and an average of about 40 people coming through the door most nights, figuring out who’s sitting where is like a massive game of Tetris. Kristen, our server, and I spend about two or three hours each day on the reservations – calling to confirm, trying to make the seatings work – and while we start out with a nice clean sheet that’s all blocked out and orderly like an A++ student’s homework, what we end up with at the end of the night is usually something that looks like this:

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SeatingChart

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It looks like a ransom note from someone who wears a tin foil hat. It’s why I hate no shows so much. They  mess up my Crazy Chart!


Top Chef Season 6

There’s no such thing as a new idea, and I have no problem with the fact that after I captured and domesticated wild hush puppies and served them back at Heirloom every new restaurant in the city is now required by law to put hush puppies on their menu. And I was flattered when I read that Ubuntu was going to open Dirt Candy West by doing occasional dinners for 18 people, where you’re served by the chef. They’re even promoting it on their new blog. (18 customers? Served by the chef? Blog? I’m a franchise!)

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But now things have gone too far! On last night’s finale of Top Chef Season Six, Kevin, the pig-hugging beardy Santa, made a pork belly dish…and he used ESP to steal the plating from Dirt Candy’s crispy tofu! For shame, Kevin. Using your psychic powers for such  low purposes.

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Our crispy tofu, wearing a hat made of micro-herbs.

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Picture 1

The smoking gun. Identical! He used

ESP to steal my brains!

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I’ve been catching up with this season’s Top Chef in repeats, and pulling for Bryan, the older brother, who just seems like a nice, calm, reasonable guy. This show always blows my mind. I’ve been asked to be on it a couple of times, but there’s just no way I could do this. First off, their token vegetarians always wind up as roadkill after two episodes (at most), but second off, I couldn’t come up with a dish in 30 minutes to save my life. I’m the kind of chef who needs four weeks to come up with a salad – experimenting, working on it, playing with it, seeing what it can do. Thirty minutes? I can’t even put on my shoes in thirty minutes.

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So my dirty bandana is off to these guys. This season’s food was light years ahead of previous seasons, and the fact that two really good chefs (Bryan and Kevin) who don’t seem like screamers made it to the final three is pretty cool.

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We’re Chef of the Year!

Metromix has named me (and therefore my sous chef, Jesus, and the rest of the staff at Dirt Candy) Chef of the Year. This is awesome and I couldn’t be happier. You can see my ridiculously silly photo and read an interview here.

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awesomekid

But I’m gonna keep trying!!!

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The previous Metromix Chefs of the Year are Ryan Skeen – 2008 (formerly of Irving Mill and Resto) and Joey Campanaro – 2007 (Market Table, Little Owl) and I’m surprised and humbled to be in such heady company.

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As is becoming annoying regular, however, I do want to make one clarification. In the interview I utter the following, “Q: Does vegetarian food get a bad rap?
A: It does, and people can’t look behind what vegetarian food is about and not what it’s not about.”

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Say what? Was I drunk? What I meant to come across here is that too often vegetarian food is about what it’s NOT and not about what it IS. It has NO meat, it has NO dairy, it is NOT cooked, it is NOT this, it is NOT that. Why can’t we focus more on what it has to offer rather than the puritanical idea that it’s valuable because of what it doesn’t offer? Instead of restraint, and caution, and avoidance, let’s celebrate excess, and headlong abandon and inclusion. Okay, I don’t cook meat. So what? Because the food I cook is about kimchi, and grilled eggplants, and pickled eggplants, and hush puppies, and doughnuts, and orange beurre blanc sauce, and grits, and tempura poached eggs, and pickled shittakes, and portobello mousse, and truffles, and broccoli rabe, and maple butter, and tomato pearls, and slow roasted potatoes, and paella, and popcorn pudding, and saffron tomato broth, and…well, you get the picture.

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I don’t want you to eat at Dirt Candy to avoid meat. I want you to eat here to  embrace vegetables.

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How Not to Open a Restaurant: Part 4

The fourth 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, here’s Part Two and here’s Part Three)

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So there we were, middle of June, Anthony the contractor was out, Moto the contractor was in, and I had just ransomed back my stolen materials from Anthony’s rage-a-holic daddy. You would think that, karmically speaking, unless I was Attila the Hun or an orthodontist in a previous life my troubles would end here. But no, because there was another loose end that needed to be tied up: Jerry the Plumber. If you currently have a plumber working for you and his name is Jerry, do yourself a favor and shoot yourself because sooner or later Jerry will make you wish you were dead.

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Building1

The front of the restaurant in mid-August.

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Read the rest of this entry »


City Harvest Event Dec. 8

Dirt Candy has been busting its hump to raise money for City Harvest all year, and this coming Tuesday, December 8, will be our last City Harvest event of the year – and it’s an easy one. Make a reservation at Dirt Candy for that night and order a bottle of DKNY Twenty Year Cuvee for $25. Every cent of money we make from selling the DKNY Cuvee that night will go to City Harvest and there are three good reasons to do this:

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1) Normally the DKNY Cuvee sells for $50. There is no way, in this economy, we’re going to ask you to make a $50 donation to City Harvest. But to donate $25 and get a bottle of sparkling wine? Consider it your anti-Scrooge moment of seasonal spirit.

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2) It’ll be the least expensive bottle on our wine list that night. It’s a bargain, and the world loves a bargain. But this is one night only!

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3) It’s actually not a bad sparkling wine. Here’s what The Vine Times says about it:

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“An extraordinary twenty-year blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier with an alluring golden color. Aromas of custard, buttery brioche and caramel lead to complex and elegant flavors of baked apple and pears with a perfect amount of lively acidity. It’s soft lingering finish makes this a must-have for any sparkling wine lover.”

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So make a reservation for Tuesday, December 8 , order a few bottles of the DKNY Cuvee and get drunk while fighting hunger!

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Swanky2

DKNY Cuvee…for when you’re feeling swanky.

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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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