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Holy Foodies!

I really love winning things. In fact, I love winning things so much that after an epic battle with my five-year-old nephew over a game of Sorry! I’m no longer allowed to play board games with my siblings’s children. But while awards are nice, what means the most to me is when I win something from actual people who paid actual money to eat at Dirt Candy and had so much fun that they pass on the recommendation to their friends. So I’m really psyched that Open Table, the national online reservation system, has gone through 7 million votes cast by diners and selected Dirt Candy as one of only five restaurants in NYC (and one of 50 across the country) that score highest in their “Fit for foodies” category. The other New York City restaurants are Anita Lo’s Annisa, Dan Barber’s Blue Hill, Iacopo Falai’s Falai down on the Lower East Side, and its neighbor, Wylie Dufresne’s wd-50.

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So thank you for everyone who voted. Between this and the Michelin Guide thing today has been the kind of day when owning a restaurant feels like fun, rather than work.

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Here’s the complete list of the 50 “Fit for Foodies” restaurants

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It’s a Two Pandas kind of day.

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Michelin Guide Recognizes Dirt Candy

This year’s Michelin Guide has once again recognized Dirt Candy as one of only three vegetarian restaurants in the city to be awarded Bib Gourmand status. To Michelin, we’re the restaurants that don’t offer the starred dining experience but still serve exceptional food – we’re the chilled out joints that let you kick back and relax while you dine it up as opposed to the uptight overachievers who want to climb the Michelin star ladder. The only other vegetarian Bib Gourmand choices are Korean vegetarian restaurant, HanGawi, and Indian veggie restaurant, Saravanaas. The list of Bib Gourmand picks includes David Chang’s Momofuku Ssam Bar, Daniel Boulud’s DBGB Kitchen & Bar, Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune and Zak Pelaccio’s Fatty Crab and Fatty ‘Cue. You can read the full list here.

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BibGourmand

And here’s what they sprayed on my sidewalk.

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Vegetables: Never Good Enough

The CDC issued a report last week with the gripping title of “Eating Patterns in America” and the news for vegetables is dire, as reported by the New York Times. Basically, on the subject of vegetables – Americans don’t like ‘em. Only 23% of meals eaten in the US of A include a vegetable, only 17% of at-home meals include a salad and only 5% of lunches and dinners eaten out were salads. So for all the press hoo-hah about celebrity chefs suddenly praising vegetables, and for all the super-expensive vegetable auctions, and for all the Meatless Mondays and all the farm-to-table blah blah blah, vegetables still don’t have a toehold in the hearts and minds of diners.

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There are a lot of reasons for this, but I think it all boils down to one simple fact: most chefs treat vegetables as second-class citizens.

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Read the rest of this entry »


Dirt Candy on Feast

Feast, NBC’s food site, has been doing class photos of different restaurants and here’s their photo of Dirt Candy. They also did interviews with everyone here from William the dishwasher to me, so if you’ve ever wanted to know who does your prep in the mornings, who washes your dishes at night or who’s waiting on your table, this is the best place to find out.


Family Meals: 110 – 105

No Thursday family meal this week because we were busy drowning at the Let us Eat Local event.

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Tuesday: haricot verts, mushroom hearts and tomato stew.

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Wednesday: rice (on the far left), haricot verts with coconut sauce, and two kinds of fried tofu on the far right (smoked and regular).

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Friday: grilled vegetable sandwiches, some with cheese and some without and some on gluten free bread and some not. We please everybody.

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Saturday: cucumber and vinegar and onion salad with two bowls of smoked tofu with squash and sugar snap pea stir fried noodles.

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Family Meals: 115 – 110

Last week’s family meals. We’re getting close to the 100 mark and have already passed halfway (that would have been 120). Have you noticed that there are all these family meal cookbooks coming out soon? WTF! Would you want to eat any of the family meals you’ve seen here? So far you’ve been able to look at almost 130 of them and there’s not one of them that you should want to eat, unless someone had a gun to your head. Family meals are made by and for people who work long hours, have a lot of stress, enjoy getting burns and cuts during the course of their work day, who make no money and who treat their bodies like punching bags. That doesn’t seem like a great demographic for a cookbook, but maybe that’s just me and I’ve eaten too many mushroom hearts and fried eggs to understand the appeal of family meal cookbooks.
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Tuesday: tortillas stuffed with cheese and grilled zucchini, and with a vegan one in the back for Marie, our new intern. And chipotle cheddar mashed potatoes. Also, banana mango smoothie in that big cambro bin on the far left.

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Wednesday: a Food Network camera crew was here today shooting for an upcoming show, so we had an extra fancy family meal that was TV ready. From left to right: bananas and mango salad, mushroom hearts, green beans and yellow squash stir fry, Jesus’s version of potato pancakes and grilled tofu.

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Thursday: spicy vegetable soup with croutons on the side. It is obvious no one is filming this family meal.

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Friday: rice with Danielle’s Indian-style chickpeas and cauliflower.

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Saturday: deep fried tofu, half of them with melted cheese and half without. Um, it seemed like a good idea at the time. And a zucchini, green bean and tomato ragout.

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No more vacations

Like an evil hellspawn, or some sort of demonic child, Dirt Candy has made it clear to me that there will be no more vacations in my life. She has let me know that she hates my vacations, and that she feels neglected and abandoned when I take one, and therefore she will make my life miserable every time I come back.

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Dirt Candy – my little Hell Child.

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Two weeks ago I took seven days off. For three days I went to San Francisco, and then spent three days in the city on one of those newfangled stay-cations that all the fancy magazines are writing about. By the time I get to the end of the year I will have taken about 14 days of vacation for all of 2010, and these last seven days were my last vacation days between now and 2011. Didn’t matter. Dirt Candy was ticked off.

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Here’s the damage since I got back:

- Paco Jet broken ($1000 to repair)

- Induction Burner broken (sent back to company to be repaired, now using portable induction burners that are very lazy – waiting on the bill)

- Dishwasher stopped working (had to be repaired twice)

- Computer monitor broken ($120 to replace)

- Exhaust Fan broken (the belt snapped)

- Fryer clogged (expensive to clean lines)

- Freezer downstairs konked out (solution: install small A/C downstairs to keep its motor from melting again)

- Kitchen Aid Mixer died (replaced to the tune of over $200)

- Dehydrator fried (replaced, and it ain’t cheap)

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So, Dirt Candy, if you’re reading this blog about yourself, just know that I thought you’d like having time off but I was wrong. So no more vacations for me. Ever. Dirt Candy, you win.

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How do you feel about that?

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“Dirt Candy much happier now!”

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Let Us Eat Local: the Deluge

Last Thursday was the Let Us Eat Local event down at the South Sea Seaport on the Water Taxi Beach. It was also the night that the massive rain storm/hurricane/tornado/horrifying weather event smashed into New York City. Let Us Eat Local took place outdoors. In a giant tent.

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Read the tale told by the survivors after the jump.

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Read the rest of this entry »


Eleven Madison Park is Dirt Candy?

The press was all abuzz last week that Eleven Madison Park is going to transition from being a “neighborhood restaurant” to being “one of the world’s standard bearers of fine dining.” Leaving aside the fact that I don’t think anyone has ever referred to the four-starred, ultra-luxurious Eleven Madison park as a “neighborhood restaurant” I think it’s pretty amazing that they’ve decided to become one of the standard bearers of fine dining by…turning into Dirt Candy. Check it out:

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They say:

“There is no longer a podium with a reservation book. Instead, the host asks your name after you come through the revolving doors, then leads you to your table.”

Just like at Dirt Candy!

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They say:

“There is no longer a strict division between ‘front of house’ and ‘back of house.’ Every night, two line cooks join the servers and ferry out the first several courses, giving them a chance to see the dining room, explain the cooking, perform a little and share in the tips.”

The cooks also double as servers? So do we!

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They say:

“Hidden in the folds of the napkin at each place setting is a square card the size of a wedding invitation printed with a grid of 16 ingredients.”

I don’t hide it in the folds of your napkin (that’d be a really big napkin) but my menu is also divided up by ingredient and it, too, is “almost an abstraction.”

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They say:

“Also, the newly remodeled kitchen has an alcove where diners can stand at a narrow counter with an amuse bouche and a glass of Champagne while watching the activity. ‘People want to see the kitchen,’ Mr. Humm said. ‘They want to see the room, see the chefs.’

Yes! I agree. And that’s why at Dirt Candy, unless you press your face to the wall, stick your fingers in your ears and squeeze your eyes shut tight you can always see the kitchen from any seat. And I’ve even gone one step further than Eleven Madison Park. I don’t just think customers want to see the chefs. I make sure they see the dishwasher, too.

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I have always wondered exactly what kind of restaurant Dirt Candy is. And now, thanks to the coverage of Eleven Madison Park’s revamp, I know: Dirt Candy is “one of the world’s standard bearers of fine dining.”

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Closed Thursday

Don’t forget that we’re closed Thursday Sept. 16 because all of us will be down at South Street Seaport working the Dirt Candy table at the Let Us Eat Local event. (full details)

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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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