dc5
Dirt Candy Header Side Image

Celery: Sexy Food of Death

Celery doesn’t get much respect. It’s not even actually called celery. It’s from the Greek “selinon” which means “parsley.” Which is sort of like telling your son you’re going to name him Susan because what you really wanted was a daughter.

.

.

But out of all the dishes on the menu, this celery salad came together the fastest. Most people are so used to being given celery sticks to eat as punishment that they tend to make a terrible wrinkly face when they see it on the menu, but more than any other dish it’s the one that has a cult following. There are diners who come back to Dirt Candy just to order the celery salad. And little do they know that when they eat this salad they’re actually embracing death. Because celery is the goth of the vegetable kingdom.

.

Read the rest of this entry »


Family Meals: 30 – 25

.

Last week’s family meals were a little “meh” but this week we have a family meal photo shoot, everyone is forced to act like they enjoy family meal, and someone reaches the end of their rope with mushroom hearts and a crisis ensues.

.

.

Tuesday: sea bean, tofu and mushroom hearts in a tomato sauce. For some reason we had more tomato paste and so it got used. I wish it wasn’t so.

.

.

Wednesday: gluten-free pasta with deep fried mushroom hearts, smoked tofu and vegetables.

.

.

Thursday: mushroom cream sauce with mushroom hearts and rice. Today was the last straw for mushroom hearts. William (our dishwasher) really doesn’t like them and I was starting to feel guilty about forcing them down his throat every day. On top of that, just look at that dish. It’s pretty gross looking It’s the kind of dish that just makes you want to give up. On everything. If despair was a family meal, it would be this one. So I turned to Jesus and said, “Look, we have to start making something besides mushroom hearts. It just…it just has to change.” Jesus said, “But that’s all I have to work with. If we don’t have any other vegetables then how can I make other vegetables?” At which point Danielle jumped in with, “Jesus, this is a vegetable restaurant. Vegetables are all we serve. There are other vegetables here.” Jesus agreed that her observation was correct, and so things are changing.

.

.

Friday: this was a punishment family meal for Danielle. Because she talked back to Jesus the day before about the mushroom hearts, today he made her cook family meal. It’s fried tofu and fried tofu skin on the side, and a miso, white rice, yellow squash and watercress soup. It looks like she felt. Resentful and punished.

.

.

Saturday: I’d been getting phone calls for a while from a woman who’s writing a book about restaurant family meals. She wanted to take a picture of ours, and after pointing out that our family meals are really informal and not exactly super-photogenic, I agreed. So she showed up today to photograph our family meal. Jesus made, after much debate (we all wanted to put our best foot forward with a family meal photo), a tray of all different kinds of roasted vegetables, raspberry banana smoothie (Jesus and I think that smoothies look good on camera), ketchup, french fries and grits (not scrambled eggs). Then I had to make everyone sit on the banquette and eat family meal together – like a family! – so that we looked good for the camera. It was a bit like taking my Duggar-sized mega-family out to Sears to get a photo portrait taken. “Smile, dammit! We’re having fun. You’re having FUN! Stop crying! Laugh! Laugh! You’re enjoying this!”

.

“Smile! Act like you’re having fun! I

don’t care if you’re not having fun! Pretend!”

.

And, of course, after giving Jesus a lot of

grief that we wouldn’t have enough family meal

for everyone today, we wound up with a ton of leftovers.

Because I have no idea what I’m talking about.

.


My Pop-Ups Rule, Your Pop-Ups Drool

Everyone is doing pop-up restaurants. Dale Talde is opening his Top Chef pop-up, Bodega, in NYC, Zak Pelaccio has opened a pop-up, Fatty Johnsons, on Carmine Street, John Fraser is opening his pop-up, What Happens When, on the border between Soho and Nolita (Solita!), Thomas Keller is doing his pop-up at Harrods in London and Zac Young has his doughnut pop-up in Grand Central Station. You know what I have to say to that?

.

Nerds.

.

In the past month I’ve launched so many pop-ups I can’t even count them anymore. Not only that, but I’ve pioneered the technique of the pop-down. I had Hour, then there was Minute, then the startling Behind You! and my personal favorite, The Commodore Beckwith, located inside the 2nd floor bathroom of the Union Square Barnes and Noble. The Commodore Beckwith almost had a customer but it turned out that what my floor team thought was a party of one was actually just a man looking for a place where he could stick newspapers down his pants.

.

I’ve opened a pop-up inside another pop-up (SLX350, a credit-card only, micro-financed, micro-pub with a Mediterranean influence), I’ve popped-up and popped-down so quickly that sometimes my pop-ups bend time and space around them and exist only inside a single moment of crystalized time (Sha-Bam, a cash-only, reverse amuse bouche lettuce atelier). Last Friday, a customer was leaving Dirt Candy and they said to me, “I really enjoyed my dinner at Dirt Candy,” and I thought to myself, “Fool, you have no idea that you were not eating in Dirt Candy but in The What What Hut, a one hour pop-up concept serving Dirt Candy food with a deconstructed twist.”

.

I’m such a pop-up expert that I’m going to open a pop-up inside Thomas Keller’s pop-up and not only will he not be able to get in the door of my pop-up in his pop-up but he won’t even know it’s there. For all he knows, people are actually already booking reservations at my secret, speakeasy pop-up at his back three tables (Would You Like Bottled or Tap? A barter-only, North African concept with a plant-based tasting).

.

You may be sitting there reading this thinking, “What is the big deal about pop-ups?” You don’t think they’re a big deal? Look around you. Is anyone nearby? Are you 100% sure they’re not cooking something under their sweatshirt or behind their backs? Because chances are, you are already sitting in a pop-up. That’s right. You just got popped!

.


Family Meals: 35 – 30

.

.

Tuesday: mushroom heart and white kidney bean stir fry with arugula. We had way too much arugula in our order this week and it wasn’t going to be good for too much longer so…family meal!

.

.

Wednesday: roasted vegetables, fried tofu and cucumber. And a piece of lemon on the side of the roasted vegetables to add class.

.

.

Thursday: it was a lot more fun to eat this family meal than to look at it now when it looks like a pan full of yuck. But it was cauliflower, yellow zucchini and mushroom hearts in a cream sauce.

.

.

Friday: mushroom hearts and gluten-free pasta in tomato sauce. And bread on the side. To make it exciting. It didn’t work.

.

.

Saturday: carrot and tofu skin soup and a fritata on the side.

.


Family Meals: 37 – 35

Only two family meals on the first week of this year, Thursday, Dec. 30 and Saturday, Jan. 1.

.

.

Thursday: mushroom heart ragout and cellophane noodles.

.

.

Saturday: William (our dishwasher) brought in some tamales that his mother brought back from her Christmas visit to Ecuador. They were really, really good. There’s also a salad (not from Ecuador), fried tofu (also not from Ecuador), and a tomato sauce (not from Ecuador, either). So Ecuador basically wins family meal today.

.


Our food comes in pans!

Last week, the company that runs Privy (which is not a toilet located inside a small shed, in this case, but the name of a high end style guide) got in touch and asked for some photos of Dirt Candy to use on a feature they had coming up. I sent them photos, and it was all totally normal. This morning, I saw that the piece had gone up and rather than use the photos I sent, they used a picture of family meals from the Dirt Candy blog. This is the best thing to happen all morning!

.

.

So please, come on down to Dirt Candy and have a giant pan of of chickpeas and fried tofu with an enormous serving spoon and some paperwork strewn around your table. Be warned, however, the stapler is a supplement and it is Market Priced.

.

Also, I am feeling really guilty because Privy’s “ideal meal” at Dirt Candy is Spinach Soup (which has been off the menu for over a year), Lemon Sage Gnocchi with Brussels Sprouts which has never been on the menu (I think it was on a press release that went out over two years ago before I was open), and popcorn pudding which, thank god, is actually on the menu. At least their ideal meal won’t be a total loss if they ever come back!

.


Cookbook Work

A few months ago I announced the good news: Dirt Candy has a cookbook coming out in Summer 2012 from Clarkson Potter (home of the Momofuku cookbook, the Ideas in Food cookbook that just came out, and a ton more). Even better, the Dirt Candy cookbook is going to be a graphic novel (you can see sample pages here). That’s right: no stuffy book for me. I’m going to have pictures! And be a cartoon character!

.

For the next three weeks I need to be doing a lot of prep work on the book, and so Dirt Candy will be closed on the following days:

.

Tuesday, January 18

Tuesday, January 25

Tuesday, February 1

.

On those days I will be chained to a desk and pretending that I know how to read and write. Also, a monkey will be helping me.

.

I believe that writing is a journey. And that journey

starts with a primate.

.


Family Meals: 42 – 37

.

Tuesday: yellow curry mushrooms and a salad. That squash lurking in the background was not part of family meal.

.

.

Wednesday: a chickpea and mushroom stir fry.

.

Look how easy it is to make food porn!

This is just Wednesday’s family meal in close-up.

.

.

Thursday: the last family meal before the holidays. Pizza party! Motorino pizza party, to be exact. And there’s Hobbles, Dirt Candy’s 2-dimensional 3-legged cat, in the background. Happy holidays, Hobbles!

.


Tiny Cricket

I’m pretty sure (reasonably sure? absolutely sure?) that this viewing party for the India vs. South Africa cricket match did not take place at Dirt Candy yesterday morning as someone who wasn’t me advertised.

.

.

But if you were here watching cricket and I didn’t see you, then I hope you had a good time. But you must be very, very small.

.


New People at Dirt Candy

The people who work at Dirt Candy mean a lot to me. My moods are like a rainbow – full of variety and surprises – and my employees weather them as best they can. But more important than navigating my moods is the fact that almost everyone who works here has been here since the beginning. So it makes me enormously sad that Kristen, my waiter, just moved on. She’s a dancer and does massage therapy and she just felt like it was time to go after two years, which I can totally understand. I want to go after two years!

.

Kristen

Kristen got paid mostly in cakes.

.

Kristen never should have been hired to work at Dirt Candy. When the restaurant was about to open back in 2008, I interviewed tons of people for the single server position I had. Kristen was great, but I had something like 180 people apply for the position, 35 of whom came in for an interview, and I wanted to do the right thing and let everyone who had not been hired know that I wasn’t giving them a job. There’s nothing worse than applying for a job, going for an interview and never hearing from them again until eventually you just have to assume they didn’t pick you.

.

So in the middle of all the construction chaos I called Kristen and told her she was hired and to show up on Monday. Then I sent an email out to all the people who hadn’t been hired, telling them that I was sorry but it was me, not them, and it just wasn’t going to work out. One of those emails went to Kristen. Oops. From her point of view, she’d been told she had a job and then emailed a few hours later and told that I appreciated her time but that I wasn’t hiring her. She hit the roof and debated what to do for a long time and finally, fortunately, she sent me an angry email telling me how low I was to hire her and then fire her the same day on email, that this was deviant behavior and that she felt ill-used.

.

Thank god. Because if she hadn’t sent that email I would have waited for her on Monday, she never would have shown up, and I would have assumed she was a flake and hired someone else. And what the past two years have shown me is that I couldn’t have opened this restaurant with someone else. I needed Kristen.

.

Kristen travels in a cloud of calm, and she’s the reason that this dining room can be packed with people but never feel frantic. She remembers everyone’s birthday, she protects me (recently reading the riot act to my husband when he was bothering me on the phone during a really busy night) and Dirt Candy would not be Dirt Candy without her. I already miss her.

.

However, sharing the job with Kristen for the past 9 months has been Diana, who now becomes the king of the waiters at Dirt Candy. If Kristen was the T-800 of waiters, Diana is the T-1000. She’s not as Zen as Kristen but she is spooky good. In the entire time she’s worked here (well over 100 nights) she has brought the wrong dish to a table exactly once. Running this dining room is like juggling chainsaws while smiling, and she does it in an off-handed way that makes it look easy. I’m constantly baffled by how she manages the most difficult and ridiculous situations without breaking a sweat. Seriously, try it. Come here late for your reservation, with two extra people, change your order three times, send your wine back and Diana will act like you’re being completely normal. And take it from me: you aren’t.

.

Diana receiving a tribute of cupcakes.

.

Like a fabulous prize on The Price is Right, being top waiter at Dirt Candy gets you dibs on Friday and Saturday nights, and you also get a washer/dryer and  trip to Tahiti. Now that Diana has symbolically killed her father (Kristen) and married her mother (become king of the waiters at Dirt Candy) I needed a spunky, young upstart to challenge her throne and work the other nights. It may be only a five-night-a-week job, but being the only waiter on the floor of a restaurant is really exhausting and the mental juggling act it requires will put you in the nut house fast if you aren’t sharing the job with someone.

.

Finding a waiter who can handle Dirt Candy is like finding someone to marry your daughter: you want them to be perfect, and no one’s ever good enough. I had to hire and then release back into the wild a couple of people who were good waiters but just not the right fit, and now we’re trying to find someone who will work out over the long haul. So you may see a new face more and more over the upcoming weeks at Dirt Candy. Or, they may not work out and you may see a new face on a head mounted on a pike outside the restaurant. Either way, things are going to look different around here in the new year!

.

holidayhead

This snowman just was not a good waiter.

.



menu


Menu

Snack

.

Jalapeno Hush Puppies $6
served with maple butter
.

Appetizers

.

Mushroom $13
portobello mousse, truffled toast
pear & fennel compote

.

Cucumber $12
roasted cucumber hot and sour soup,
black sesame, garlic chili oil, wood ear
mushroom, cucumber jelly

.

Spinach $13
spinach & grapefruit mille-feuille,
with smoked pistachios and ricotta

.

Potato $12
warm potato salad, crispy Japanese
yams, grilled sweet potato, olives,
bitter greens, apples

.

.

Entrees

.

Beets $20
salt-roasted beets, thai green curry,
beet gnocchi, whipped coconut galangal cream

.

Pepper $18
fennel & pepper tofu,
parsley spaetzle, grilled
yellow pepper broth,
mustard crumbs

.

Broccoli $21
smoked broccoli dogs,
broccoli kraut, salt &
vinegar broccoli rabe

.

Corn $19
stone ground grits, corn cream,
pickled shiitakes, huitlacoche,
tempura poached egg

.

- everything on the menu can be made vegan on request.

.

.

Dessert

Rosemary Eggplant Tiramisu $12
grilled eggplant, rosemary cotton
candy, mascarpone

.

Ice Cream Nanaimo Bar$11
sweet pea, mint, chocolate

.

Popcorn Pudding$11
salted caramel corn

.

Celery Cheesecake Roll $10
celeriac ice cream, peanut filling,

& candied grapes

.

- vegan dessert selection changes regularly, please ask your server.

.

Our wine list (and other beverages)

.

.

Gift Certificates

.

.

FacebookButton

.

twitterimage