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180 – 175 Family Meals

Last week’s family meals were so forgettable that I almost forgot to put up the post about them. But don’t worry, we’re still being fed and watered regularly down here. Another reason this is late is that I’ve been making 500 BBQ carrot buns for the nightmarket and putting a new dish on the menu (goodbye, gnocchi!) which always causes me a lot of stress.

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Tuesday: creamy grits and tofu with a salad. See what I meant by “boring?” Could you find a blander meal outside of a nursing home?

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Wednesday: fried eggs (that’s them lurking in the back), smoked tofu and root vegetables in a cream sauce (we’re using up the root vegetables since the gnocchi is about to be replaced) and a dandelion salad. Which was actually pretty good.

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Thursday: rice with tofu and eggplant curry. Think about it: rice with tofu. Bland on bland. What was wrong with us last week?

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Friday: green beans with caramelized onions and grits. There’s not even anything in the grits. Just grits. Those green beans almost jazzed it up a little, but then…the grits.

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Saturday: root veggies and tofu in a light cream sauce with raspberry soda on the side. Let’s see a close-up of that tofu…

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Folks, it doesn’t get any blander than that. This week we’re trying to be a little more exciting and inspirational with our family meals. I promise.

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Dirt Candy in Dumbo on Friday

Dirt Candy will be closed this Friday, April 30, because we’ll be in Dumbo!

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We’ve been invited by David Chang and his minions to set up a Dirt Candy stall at the LuckyRice Night Market in the archway under the Manhattan Bridge in Dumbo (that’s in Brooklyn – the city worker where I got my temporary outdoor food permit claimed that Dumbo did not exist and that I couldn’t have a permit to a “made up neighborhood”).

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Nightmarket

What I’m hoping the Dirt Candy

Night Market stall looks like.

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The event runs from 6:30pm – 10:30pm and it looks like tickets are sold out, which is too bad because all of us at Dirt Candy are committed to having the tackiest stall in the market. I’ve even bought an army of robot lucky cats to add some visual pizzazz to my stall. Watch this space for plenty of magical pictures after the event is over.

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Event info.

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Meet our new chef: Michael Voltaggio

I was looking through the Star Chefs website for their Rising Stars of Los Angeles 2010 and I came across some great news! Michael Voltaggio, winner of the last Top Chef, is now the chef at Dirt Candy.

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Here’s the screengrab that had the good news.

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Welcome aboard, Michael. Expect your hazing to begin asap.

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Michael_V

“I do not want to be hazed. Or do I?”

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Sprinter Menu: Pea Soup

Sprinter. That’s the situation the Dirt Candy menu currently finds itself in. Spring dishes are slowly coming on, winter dishes are slowly going away, but right now it’s in transition and so we’re half spring and half winter: Sprinter.

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But it being spring, every young woman finds her thoughts turning to one thing: peas. Technically a fruit, peas are one of the first signs of spring, but for some reason the most popular pea dish, pea soup, is thick, heavy and usually served in the winter. So I wanted to do something new, I wanted to make a pea soup that woke you up the way spring shakes the dust from your bones and gets you up out of your winter cave. I wanted a pea soup that was light and refreshing. So please allow me to introduce you to Dirt Candy’s pea soup.

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Read the rest of this entry »


185 – 180 Family Meals

Last week the family meals kept getting sexier. At this rate, I’m going to have to start charging the staff for them.

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Tuesday: grits and smoked tofu, chickpeas and mushrooms fried in a pan, and some raw cucumbers in that little quart container in the back.

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Wednesday: french fries and a mushroom, eggplant and broccoli stir fry.

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Thursday: steamed buns, potato salad and roasted eggplant. In the lower right-hand corner is what was supposed to be buffalo tofu. But with no Frank’s hot sauce on hand, Jesus winged it and we wound up with Tabasco tofu instead.

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Friday: mashed potatoes, parmesan eggs, spicy snow peas, salad, fried potato curls left over from the potato soup (now off the menu) and a wood chip drink. That big cambro container has Danielle’s maple chips soaking in it. Thinking it was some kind of special juice she’d made, Jesus dropped a ladle in it for everyone to help themselves. It didn’t taste very good.

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Saturday: ratatouille, mushrooms with risotto rice and scrambled eggs.

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Dovetail: Going Uptown to FancyLand

It’s not often that I get treated well. I’m a girl who cooks vegetables and it’s not that cool to know me in the food world. On top of that, my restaurant is tiny and I’m not the protege of a famous chef like Thomas Keller or Eric Ripert. There are people I’m friends with in the restaurant business, but it’s rare some stranger appears out of nowhere and does something nice for me. So I was super-happy to be invited uptown for dinner at one of Chef John Fraser’s Vegetarian Monday nights at his restaurant Dovetail.

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Dovetail

Dovetail: clearly this restaurant

could eat Dirt Candy and still have

room to eat my apartment for dessert.

It might even need a slice of pizza afterwards.

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Chef Fraser asked his publicists at Bullfrog & Baum to invite me, which was fun because a) it’s rare a chef is as shy as I am, and b) I love getting emails from Bullfrog & Baum because it always seems very important. B&B are sort of the Death Star of restaurant publicity: big, inevitable, capable of destroying entire planets when necessary. Anyways, I was invited and off my husband and I went in our fancy clothes, up to Dovetail on 77th and Columbus.

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The most important thing you should know about my meal is that it was free. I tried to pay but they wouldn’t let me (although my attempt to pay was partly a genuine attempt to pay and partly one of those gestures you make towards your wallet when you go out to eat with other people, hoping that they’ll say, “I got it,” before your hand actually touches your wallet). So take my comments with a grain of salt – after all, who can hate on a free meal? The deal for people who pay for their meal is that every Monday night, Chef Fraser is offering a three course dinner for $38/person. There’s a vegetarian menu with vegan options, a vegetable-focused menu (which has a fair amount of meat in it) and a limited version of the regular menu. It must drive his kitchen nuts to have to do so many different menus one night a week, but it’s neat to have the options.

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So how is it? It’s good! This is a far different experience than you’ll get at Dirt Candy. It’s the Upper West Side, for Pete’s sake. Swarms of waiters cater to your every whim, the plates are enormous, the food is impeccably plated, the room is hushed and there are very fancy touches. If you order the consomm√© they bring it out for you in a Mason jar so you can take a look at before they serve it, sort of like picking your pig at a BBQ place. All I could think of is that Antonio would go crazy if I made him wash more Mason jars than he already does now, but that’s why Dovetail’s got a big staff. There are plenty of vegan desserts and while vegan desserts are hard to get right, these were great. Of course, I’m a sucker for dessert. As long as it’s sweet and has chocolate in it, I’m happy.

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MasonJars

“Pick me! Pick me!”

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I haven’t seen much press about these Monday Night Vegetarians meals, but it should get more attention. There are very few high-end options for vegetarians in Manhattan and at $38/head you’re not going to break the bank. Let’s face it, most high end restaurants treat vegetables like an afterthought and while they’ll sometimes dash off a couple of vegetarian dishes they’re usually pretty unmemorable. Chef Fraser is taking the time and care to think through his menu, and it’s one of the best vegetarian meals I’ve had in a non-vegetarian, NYC restaurant.

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SteamedVeggies

The vegetarian option at most

high-end, non-veggie restaurants. I

once paid $65 for a plate that looked

just like this.

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Full disclosure: even though my meal was free, no one asked me to post anything. The reason I’m writing this up is because I think folks who like Dirt Candy may want to check it out, and because Fraser’s trying something different. Monday nights are hard (I’m not even open on Monday) and there he is on the very conservative Upper West Side and he decides that what he’s going to do to bring in business is to go vegetarian one night a week and treat vegetables with some respect. It’s a cool step to take, so that’s the main reason I’m giving it a plug here. But also? When someone goes out of their way to be nice to me and Dirt Candy, I want to be nice back.

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(Read Serious Eats’s review of Dovetail’s Vegetarian Monday Nights)

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(Dovetail’s website)

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Mind Body Green Interview

A really nice interview went up today on Mind Body Green. Check it out if you’re totally bored and looking to kill some time today.


190 – 185 Family Meals

Last week’s family meals featured the Return of the Egg (and an awful lot of broccoli stems).

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Tuesday: mushrooms and broccoli stems, fried tofu, potato skins (on the far right) and eggs (argh!) with arugula and kimchi

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Wednesday: salad with sundried tomatoes and almonds, mini funnel cakes (coming soon to the menu) and broccoli stems with tofu.

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Thursday: fried eggs (!), salad with some stuff in it, broccolini stems and hiding behind the grapefruit juice there are mashed potatoes.

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Friday: that scary looking black stuff in the back is not a big bowl of evil. It’s red cabbage, which turns really dark when you cook it. Then there’s fried tofu, carrots and cucumbers and roasted potatoes.

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Saturday: mushroom stem mush, blueberry soda and bananas with icy brown sugar ice cream.

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The End of the Atomic Age

Last week, the Era of the Atom ended. Atomic Passion, a thrift store on East Ninth Street, right next to Dirt Candy, closed for good.

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AtomicPassion4

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Atomic Passion has been here as long as I’ve been in New York. I lived up the street from it when I went to NYU, and it’s owned by Justin, who knew my husband in college, so it was a trip to open Dirt Candy right next door to him. One of the most amazing things has been knowing Justin as a young punk, and knowing him now as a dad with some gray in his beard. For almost 18 years his store was East Ninth Street’s anchor, the one place you always thought would be here, and the easiest place to use to orient folks when giving them directions.

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AtomicPassion3

“Just keep walking till you pass

the place with the cheerleader ladies on top.”

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This is the kind of store that makes a neighborhood in New York. Gigi and Justin kept this place running on little more than hard work for years and they knew everyone on the block and gave out the best Halloween candy. While building Dirt Candy, I was always stopping in to vent or to get their opinion on different issues with the block. Jenny, Justin’s significant other (I was never sure if they were married or not) works right up the street at her hair salon and when their son, Vance, was born a little over a year ago he quickly made best friends with the fire hydrant outside Dirt Candy and I’ve been keeping track of the months passing by watching him grow up.

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According to Justin, they just couldn’t make the numbers work anymore. We all know that life isn’t fair, and anyone who expects the good guys to win is living in a dream world. But it’s a loss to the block for Atomic Passion to go, and losing my neighbor makes me feel like it’s not Atomic Passion that’s wrong here, it’s the world where their numbers aren’t the ones that work. Most people didn’t notice Atomic Passion close, but if you were on East Ninth Street last week you would have seen part of the city die. Because when Atomic Passion closed, New York City became just that much colder, just that much of a tougher place to live.

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AtomicPassion2

I’m sorry, too.

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April is Emotional Overeating Awareness Month!

April is Emotional Overeating Awareness Month and to celebrate, Dirt Candy is running a special for anyone who wishes to overeat emotionally.

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Order one dessert and receive your second dessert free. This offer is not per table, but per person, so please don’t try to share your two desserts. This is not about economizing, it’s about overeating. Emotionally. We want to create an environment where you can eat a full order of Red Pepper Velvet Cake, salted with your own tears, and then disconsolately consume a plate of Sweet Potato Puffs while wondering Where It All Went Wrong.

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popcornpud

Sometimes things are just hard, you know?

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For too long, emotional overeating has been a source of shame and sorrow, but let’s face it: sometimes the choice comes down to drug abuse or dessert, and we want to help you choose dessert.

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So celebrate emotional overeating with Dirt Candy and remember: there is no problem so big that food cannot help.

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Offer good from April 6 – May 1

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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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