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Cauliflower & Waffles

The most popular new dish at Dirt Candy is Cauliflower. Like Angelina Jolie, people can’t seem to get enough of it, it’s wildly popular and has even been photographed by New York magazine.

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“Everyone wants me, I am so pretty!

Come here. Too close. Go away.

Now come back. Ha ha ha!”

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Pretty amazing for a dish born out of my own guilt and sense of personal failure and even more amazing when you consider that it’s made entirely of aborted stem cells. Say what?!? Don’t be grossed out, it’s only botany. So come on inside and learn about this intersection of my private shame, soul food, Will Smith, Gladys Knight, Thomas Jefferson and ponies that has produced Cornflake Crusted Cauliflower with Buttermilk Pancakes, Wild Arugula and Apple Salad with Maple Dressing and Horseradish Sauce.

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Happy American Thanksgiving

Happy American Thanksgiving, Americans!

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Dirt Candy will be closed on Thursday, November 25 so that all the Americans can eat turkey and so that I can stay home and sleep.

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Have a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Thanksgiving

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Family Meals: 70 – 66

Only four family meals this week because last Thursday we were closed to do an event at Brooklyn Brewery.

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Tuesday: spinach, corn and red pepper salad and a chickpea salad.

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Wednesday: fried tofu, grilled smoked tofu with grilled onions, sauteed spinach, bread and barbecue sauce.

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Friday: potentially the most disgusting family meal we have ever had, made of leftovers from the event the night before. This rivals the pickled lime meal from a while back. Hot spinach dip with micro-amaranth, which was neither good hot nor good in this large of a quantity, and then hot white lentils with micro-kohlrabi.

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Saturday: roasted vegetables with salad and fried polenta.

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Family Meals: 75 – 70

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Tuesday: smoked tofu and red pepper stir fry with noodles.

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Wednesday: salad and fried vegetables and a big pot of human blood tomato sauce. You know, for dipping the fried vegetables.

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Thursday: today’s family meal is given a soft focus effect for some reason. To make it look younger? More glamorous? There’s smoothie, a bowl of nanaimo bar trimmed edges, salad and a giant pan of mushrooms.

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Friday: salad with carrots and smoked tofu, and then one of my former interns, Ann, brought by a very tasty quinoa salad. It’s double-barreled salad day.

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Saturday: Kristen’s last day at Dirt Candy and this is her By Request Family Meal. Corn bread (up front), gluten free macaroni pie, peanut brittle, a mixture of kales, maple butter, and the best chocolate cake in the world.

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Family Meals: 80 – 75

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Tuesday: that white bowl contains noodles, and the pan is…well, none of us are 100% sure what’s in the pan. I slacked on getting these up and so this is from a couple of weeks ago. The best Danielle and I can tell it’s mushroom hearts, peas, red peppers and…cheese?

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Wednesday: fried eggs and grits with chipotle in them. Grits are becoming our new fried eggs. It’s like we’re a bunch of Southern sharecroppers circa 1932, living entirely on grits and eggs.

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Thursday: noodles and curry containing all the usual suspects: mushroom hearts (from the celery salad), broccolini (from the tofu) and grilled tofu (also from the tofu).

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Friday: grits, salad and a great big red bowl of tempeh bolognese.

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Saturday: Roopa’s cake for Dirt Candy’s second birthday, fried tofu and arugula salad.

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New Reservation Policy

After this past Saturday night I have to change something, and I feel terrible about it. It was a busy night, Dirt Candy was booked up, there were a lot of people walking in who wanted tables and I had to keep turning them away. And 12 people were no shows. They just didn’t show up. No phone call. Nothing. Now, I’m not angry about losing the money (oh, wait a minute, I am), but I feel bad for the people who came by who wanted tables and who I had to turn away. I feel bad for Kristen, who missed out on the tips, and I feel bad because when a table just doesn’t show up I feel like a sucker. Maybe I shouldn’t take it personally, but eating here is like eating in my house and if someone doesn’t show up, or even bother to call me back when I call to confirm their reservation, it just feels so rude. Even worse, I had had a debate about these three tables. When I had called them to confirm their reservations one of the numbers was out of service and the other two had voice mailboxes that weren’t set up yet. I wanted to just let their tables go, but I knew that two of the three tables were from out of town and I couldn’t do that to tourists. There would be nothing worse for these guys than to make a reservation, go on vacation to NYC where their phones weren’t working, showing up for their reservation and have it be canceled. They’d have to find a place to eat around 8pm on a Saturday night in the East Village and that would pretty much ruin their night.

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Pictures of bunnies will distract you from

the content of this post.

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I have a fair number of no-shows each week, and I can’t get rid of them all, but I can reduce the number by implementing a new policy. I always call people to confirm their reservation, usually the day before, but from now on, I must have a confirmation from every single table before 5pm on the night of their reservation. That means that when I call you to confirm your reservation and you don’t answer, I’ll leave you a voicemail and you need to call me back. You can leave your confirmation on the Dirt Candy voice mail or speak to me directly, but you need to let me know you’re either coming or canceling, because come 5pm on the night of your reservation, if I haven’t gotten a confirmation from you, I can’t guarantee your table. I get lots of walk-ins, and one of them will be happy to take the table if you haven’t confirmed.

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I hate doing this, because it makes me sound like a hard ass, but I don’t have a choice. No shows throw the dining room into chaos, and they’re hard on my waiter and on the kitchen. Most restaurants have this policy and if I don’t do this I’m going to have to start taking credit cards with reservations and that’s the last thing I want to do.

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If people think this is unfair, or if they have a suggestion for a better solution, feel free to drop me an email (info at dirt candy nyc dot com) and let me know. I don’t think this will be too onerous for folks – you just have to call me back when I call you to confirm your reservation – and I hope it’ll make things a lot easier, and free up some tables for walk-ins.

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Thanks for understanding, all of you. And for those of you who do call when you need to cancel your reservation…thank you. You have no idea how grateful restaurants are when you do that, not just Dirt Candy.

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“Someone just canceled their reservation!

We’re on our way to Dirt Candy now!”

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One Last Birthday Pic

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Hobbles

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One last picture from Dirt Candy’s second birthday. Here’s a hat made for DC by a customer, and it’s being worn by Hobbles, the three legged cat who guards Dirt Candy and chases out 2 dimensional mice after hours. Hobbles is about to eat a delicious rose water cake made by Roopa Kalyanaraman Marcello.

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I have to admit: it’s fun when people bring treats for Dirt Candy’s birthday. But really, I just wanted an excuse to post a picture of Hobbles. He’s been here since the beginning.

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NY Magazine Gives us a Shiny Hug!

It’s super-cool to be included in New York Magazine’s list of “The Vegetable Movement’s Must-Visit Restaurants” along with places like Per Se, Dovetail, the Spotted Pig and a bunch more. It’s also nice to be included since Dirt Candy is one of only 3 completely vegetarian spots in this list of 14 restaurants (the other two are Kajitsu, which has two Michelin stars, and Le Verdure which is part of Mario Batali’s Eataly empire).

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It’s a little bit weird to be on this prestigious list with Thomas Keller, John Fraser, Alain Ducasse, April Bloomfield, Dan Barber and Jean-Georges Vongerichten when I haven’t even been reviewed by a lot of the major weeklies (including New York Magazine!), but I’m also really happy to be lumped in with all of these amazing chefs. So I’m not knocking it! The only bummer is that their photographer, Danny Kim, took a ton of beautiful photos of my food (I felt like a stage mother prepping her little darlings at his studio – wiping some sauce off the side of a plate here, straightening some cucumber there – getting them photo ready) and I wish I could see more of them.

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New York Magazine augments the list with a nice long article about the new trend for vegetables in restaurants called “Why Vegetables are the New Meat,” and a photo-piece about six vegetables that are hot right now. They also take a stab at coining the word “vegivore” instead of vegetarian.

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I totally get the urge – the word “vegetarian” has come to carry a lot of unfortunate (and in some cases, undeserved) connotations, and using the “v” word sometimes causes potential customers to conjure up a bunch of unsavory images and associations. It’s not fair, but that’s just the way it is. When I worked at Heirloom, Matthew Kenney was desperate to get people to call the food “vegetable cuisine” instead of vegetarian, but “vegetable cuisine” was just way too clunky to ever catch on. I tried “vegetable cooking” when I opened Dirt Candy, and that’s let me steer a middle ground: vegetarians know I run a vegetarian restaurant, but omnivores are willing to give my food a try, too, because they don’t think of it as vegetarian, even though it is. However, a label for Dirt Candy never really caught on, and for that I’m grateful. I cook vegetables, and I think of Dirt Candy as my lab for trying to do new things with vegetables. I don’t think a label would make that better or easier, and I seem to have carved out a tiny niche without one.

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I admire NY Mag’s efforts to find a new word, but I wonder if vegivore will stick?

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“The Vegetable Movement’s Must-Visit Restaurants” (New York Magazine)

“Why Vegetables are the New Meat” (New York Magazine)

“The Six Staples of Vegivorism” (New York Magazine)

“How a Vegivore Meal Compares with a Traditional One” (New York Magazine)

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Meet Our Wine Zoo: Sherry

We don’t have much room to store cases of wine, so rather than offering people the same old list of Syrahs, Cabernets, Chardonnays, Pinot Grigios and all the rest of the usual suspects we thought we’d make up a wine list of the strangest and most unusual wines we could find, sort of like a wine zoo for exotic animals.

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Dessert wine is not my thing, and when I think about sherry I think about truly terrible, over-sweetened wine that’s enjoyed exclusively by little old ladies or by British housewives in the 1960′s taking nips out of the cooking sherry just to make their lives pass by a little easier when no one was looking. Just thinking about sherry is enough to make my tongue curl and turn back on itself. Then I found out that most of what was sold as “sherry” was British Sherry or California Sherry or Irish Sherry, but not Spanish sherry (which is supposed to be the “real” sherry) and then I tasted this Solera 1847 from Gonzalez Byass, and now I keep a bottle in the kitchen, underneath the counter, and I take nips from it all night long, just to make like go by a little easier when no one is looking.

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But this Solera 1847 changed all of that for me. This is sherry as an intense, old world experience. After putting it on the menu I don’t think I can ever go back to serving anything else.

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Family Meals: 85 – 80

The pictures of this week’s family meals suffer from some technical issues, but surely you can see through the exposure problems and the blurry focus to see the fried mushroom hearts and eggs underneath.

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Tuesday: it looks bad, but it’s not actually so bad. This is noodle cake with smoked tofu and egg white omelette and a really kind of nice Asian-y mushroom stirfry.

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Wednesday: chipotle grits with grilled tofu with mushroom hearts and chipotle and a side of chipotle and some grated cheese.

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Thursday: kind of a tempeh bolognese.

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Friday: eggs with nothing in them, tomato sauce, and a very nice roasted vegetable medley.

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Saturday: roasted vegetables and fried polenta cakes, which have become Danielle’s specialty.

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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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