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The New York Times Likes us. It really likes us!

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After getting two stars in the New York Times and realizing that Dirt Candy is the first vegetarian restaurant in 17 years to get two stars from the Gray Lady, I feel like this:

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We got a very, very, very short review from the New York Times when Dirt Candy first opened, sandwiched in with their review of Jollibee, the Filipino fast food chain with the world’s most awesome mascot:

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I wasn’t thrilled with that first quick $25 and Under review because I wanted a critic to seriously engage with Dirt Candy’s food and give me feedback, and it didn’t do that. It didn’t help that the restaurant still didn’t have gas when I got that review, either. But looking back, I’m glad it went this way. I’m such a different chef now, and my food is so different, and Dirt Candy is so changed that I’m glad the Times waited this long.

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I couldn’t have asked for a critic to engage more seriously with my restaurant and I couldn’t have found a writer who got what I’m doing more. I want this place to be fun. I think of Dirt Candy as my house (mostly because I’m here more than I’m at my actual house) and I want people who visit to have a good time. I know that the size of Dirt Candy is a drawback and keeps me from doing some of the things I want to do (more tables, a bigger wine list) but I try to compensate by making the food and the experience as party-riffic as possible.

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Also, while everyone’s congratulating me and being super-nice, I want to say that no one does this alone, and I definitely didn’t. That review is a review of Dirt Candy which means it’s a review of my entire Dirt Candy family: Danielle, my prep queen, Nin & Kyle who are the prep army, numerous interns, Raoul (who’s moving on from the line), Mike (who’s taking over), Justyna (my server), and Maurillo who is the best dishwasher I’ve ever met.

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My one question about Pete Wells’s review is: how did he get in here? Three times?

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In a way, it’s kind of eerie. I have 18 seats. It’s an open kitchen. I know what he looks like. I’m here virtually every night. I had no idea he came here. Three times!!! The man is like some kind of Dinner Ninja, and if he can get in here without me noticing, where else can’t he go? New Yorkers! Be alert! Is Pete Wells in YOUR restaurant? In YOUR living room? Did you wonder whose jacket that was in your closet? It’s Pete Wells’s jacket and right now he’s eating your porridge, sleeping in your bed, and you DON’T EVEN KNOW!!!!

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So thank you, New York Times, and thanks, Pete Wells. I’d invite you back to Dirt Candy but you’ve probably already been here twice today.

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Bonus restaurant shots: here’s a slideshow the Times ran with the review. It’s got some of the best pictures of the Dirt Candy dining room I’ve ever seen.

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Dirt Candy Coming to Boston (well, near Boston)

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Medford is Boston, right? I mean, it’s a suburb and you can take the T from Boston to Medford, so it’s basically the same city. I think? Geographical quibbling aside, I’m going to be in Medford this coming weekend, Saturday December 1st, from 3 – 5pm. Sponsored by the Friends of the Medford Public Library and the Tufts Culinary Society, I’m going to be talking about how to cook vegetables, signing cookbooks, and there’s going to be a ton of food. I’m bringing Portobello Mousse with Truffle Toast, and a bunch of local restaurants are donating dishes. This is an event to benefit the FOTMPL and TCS and while the event itself is free there will be all kinds of ways to give them your money while you’re there.

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See, Medford’s pretty!

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So come on up, hear me talk about how to keep your vegetables from turning into sad, gray piles of failure when you cook them at home, buy a cookbook, get it signed, and eat some food. There are far, far worse ways to spend your Saturday afternoon, and it’s for a great cause (said cause being libraries). The Boston Globe even picked this as one of the five things you should do in Boston this week. See! I told you this was in Boston!

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“Vegetables! I am coming for you!”

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The event is being called “Vegetables: Friend or Foe?” and it will take place at Tufts’s Sophia Gordon Hall (15 Talbot Avenue) and you can find all the details here.

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Palmetto Beer: a more graceful way to get drunk

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Although my husband’s hometown of Charleston, SC now features so many breweries that on a recent trip we found growlers and taps in a very sketchy mini-mart in a lousy part of town, the first of these is Palmetto Brewery. Who are they? Let them tell it in their own words:

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“Palmetto Brewery first served Charleston’s thirst in the 1850′s. Brewed through the ‘War of Northern Aggression,’ the earthquake of 886, a major hurricane, and into the turn of the century, but failed to survive prohibition. We revived the tradition in 1993, becoming the first brewery to operate in South Carolina since Prohibition. Our beer is truly handcrafted in small batches in the historic city of Charleston.”

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Unavailable outside of South Carolina, you’ll find it all over the place when you’re in Charleston. Fortunately for me, one of the founders of the brewery is a fan of Dirt Candy and a really good friend and Palmetto gave me a ton of their beer for the cookbook signing in Charleston.

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Before.

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After.

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Comix Art! The Dirt Candy Way!

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A couple of weeks ago I catered the Racked Awards out at Westway, and the inimitable Ryan Dunlavey (artist on Dirt Candy: A Cookbook, and friend to all children) did tray cards for the food. Here’s what he drew:

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Collect them all!

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In action!

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Yes, “shepherd” is spelled wrong. But it’s still a great piece of art!

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DC @ the Food Film Festival!

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A while back, Dirt Candy was invited to be part of The Food Film Festival and so my husband and his editor, Matt London, set out to make a short film for Dirt Candy called “Vegetables: Friend or Foe?” We’re going to be in Chicago for the installment of the Food Film Festival this weekend (we’re up Saturday night) but after that I’m going to put it up online for everyone to watch. I also agreed to be the vegetarian option at the NY Food Film Fest parties following three of the screenings. It was actually a lot of fun and I was really happy when Gael Greene tweeted that her favorite film at the fest was “Vegetables: Friend or Foe?” and her favorite dish was my Tomato Cakes. Hopefully it’ll be as much fun in Chicago!

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The party space in the lobby of the Loew’s on Third Avenue and 11th Street.

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We got to set up at the candy counter!

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Looking out over the floor at Saxon & Parole on the last night.

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Lots and lots and lots of Tomato Cakes.

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This is what these events look like from my POV:
an eternal hand eternally taking food off my table.

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Produce Porn in Charleston

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I totally got overwhelmed and forgot to post photos from the dinner I did down in Charleston, SC about a month ago. To make it up to the universe, here’s some produce porn, because one of the highlights? Working with local farmers to cook their amazing vegetables.

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Random produce.

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Oyster mushrooms from the Trappist monks at Mepkin Abbey.

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More Mepkin mushrooms.

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Sweetbay Produce sent us some of their “extra” basil.
That is A LOT of basil.

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Fresh eggs from a guy on down the road on James Island
who just happened to have some chickens.

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I’ve never seen mega-lemongrass this massive. It’s from the folks at
Compost in My Shoe.

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Nice kohlrabi, lady.

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Fridge full o’basil.

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This arugula from Sweetbay Produce was some of the most peppery,
intense arugula I’ve ever had in my life. He says he’s going to ship me a box of it soon.
Yes!

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45 people in a round house about to have dinner.

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Starting to plate cauliflower and waffles.

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Getting ready.

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Helen, who kicked butt. This whole dinner would have flopped if she
hadn’t been down in Charleston organizing it and then she spent all night
with me cooking. She’s truly a superhero.

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God of Cookery!

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A few people asked me why I presented Stephen Chow’s GOD OF COOKERY at the sold out Alamo Drafthouse event in Austin last week. Why a Chinese movie paired with vegetarian food? The reason is simple: Stephen Chow changed my life.

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Yes, this guy. I made life decisions based on him.

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“Because I am so cool.”

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Back when I was at NYU, my husband and I started going to the Music Palace, which was a rundown Chinese movie theater on the Bowery. Tickets were $6 for a double feature and they showed the latest movies from Hong Kong. We didn’t know from Hong Kong, but it was cheap and fun and so we started going. The first two movies we saw were okay (I don’t remember them) and we went back a few weeks later and saw a double feature of the weird comedy, ALWAYS BE THE WINNER, which was fun but then we saw Stephen Chow’s LOVE ON DELIVERY and we never went back. This was a movie so bizarre, so strange, so ridiculous that it was like visiting another dimension.

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GOD OF COOKERY is one of the best food movies ever
made, by the way. Kicks BABETTE’S FEAST right in the butt.

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We went back to the Music Palace religiously after that and, after graduating, we moved to Hong Kong because we loved the movies so much. We were there for a year and a bit and that was when I realized how amazing vegetarian food could be. Hong Kong is crammed with vegetarian restaurants, most of them doing Chinese Temple Cooking, and I realized how much more you could do with vegetables than I’d ever imagined. I ate better in Hong Kong than I have anywhere else on earth, and after I came back to the US I couldn’t get it out of my head. About two years later I was enrolled in cooking school and now I somehow own a restaurant.

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“That’s right, little girl. I want you to become a chef.”

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All thanks to Stephen Chow.

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“Food is exciting!”

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Read a review of GOD OF COOKERY. Then watch some of Chow’s funniest scenes.

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Dirt Candy Takes Chicago…with the Food Film Fest!

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Dirt Candy is on the road again! I’m heading to Chicago this coming weekend as part of the The Food Film Festival’s Chicago leg (running Nov. 15 – 18). I’ll be serving up Portobello Mousse and screening Dirt Candy’s short movie, Vegetables: Friend or Foe? on Saturday night as part of the closing night single malt whiskey screening and awards ceremony. It’s basically a big giant party where you can watch movies and get drunk. Also: eat food.

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Vegetables: Friend or Foe? is the short movie made by my husband and Matt London, and Gael Greene called it her favorite film of the Food Film Fest, NYC edition. Even better, if you’re buying a ticket and you’re a Dirt Candy Buddy (and of course you are if you’re reading this post) use the code CFFF12FILMS and get 33% off your tickets until Friday at 7pm.

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So come on out, eat some food, get in out of the cold, guzzle some booze, and watch movies (about food).

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(Buy tickets, Chicago-People!)

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Sandy Update

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(Update: as of Tuesday, November 6, Dirt Candy has re-opened! Seriously. We’re open. You can eat here! People have been confused, so be confused no longer!)

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I’m in the middle of re-opening Dirt Candy and so far the biggest problem (besides having to remake everything from scratch, all at once) is that my internet service is out. Verizon told me, “We don’t know why it’s out, we don’t know when it will be back, and it may never be back.” As you might imagine, these are not the words I wanted to hear. The biggest thing I need internet access for are Open Table reservations. To their credit, Open Table is being really great about this (a huge improvement over my last interaction with them) but for now, if you want a reservation (or need to cancel a reservation, or change a reservation) please call the restaurant (212-228-7732). I’m really sorry for the inconvenience, but just imagine: it’s only a single phone call for you, but I’ll be answering the phone all day long.

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Then there’s storage. Dirt Candy has off-site storage over on Avenue D, right in the middle of the flood zone. My storage unit: in the basement. This is what it looks like.

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My husband was over there yesterday and today digging it out, and what really sucks is that insurance doesn’t cover this loss. The policy I had through the storage place doesn’t cover water damage, and the coverage I have through my home owner’s policy doesn’t cover this particular location for flooding (because it’s in a flood plain). This was all news to me!

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Want to buy a Dirt Candy Cookbook: Special Superstorm Sandy Edition?

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The store is still open, and we’re still selling stuff, but we have no more men’s t-shirts (unless you’d like to buy a wet, mildewy one saturated in heating oil and raw sewage) and I won’t be able to ship any book orders until this weekend. I’ll keep you posted on developments.

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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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