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Climb Every Radish

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People climb Mount Everest “because it’s there.” They run triathlons. They collect rabid weasels. Why do they do these things? Because they love the challenge. And that’s what this new dessert is all about. The Beignets with Watermelon and Watermelon Radish Jelly, Sour Radish Sugar, Watermelon Jellies, Radish Sherbert and Watermelon Sorbet is my Mount Everest. It’s my triathlon. It’s my rabid weasel collection.

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What was the thrill I was seeking? What was the danger? I wanted to make a dessert out of a vegetable that no one wanted to eat for dessert. I had made a broccoli dessert for Iron Chef America and it had worked out better than I’d anticipated. Now I wanted to really push myself. Besides broccoli, what was the one vegetable that would never appear on a dessert menu? What was the unlikeliest vegetable to be ordered at the end of a meal? What was the insurmountable challenge for vegetable desserts. The answer came to me almost immediately.

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The radish.

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To figure this one out, I had to think about radishes differently. Ginger isn’t a vegetable that you’d necessarily associate with dessert, but these days you can’t find a dessert menu without ginger being all over it. I had to think of radishes as ginger because they have the same bracing, spicy bite. Divorced from their texture, radishes have a snappy sweetness with a hint of pepper. What would complement it? I needed something to make it mellow out, that would bring a little creaminess to its sharpness. That’s how the radish sherbert wound up on the plate. It’s got a bit of a bite, a rootsy, earthy crispness, but it’s toned down to normal human levels by a creamy mellowness.

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Then I realized that if I was going to make people eat radishes for dessert, I had to make them fun. I needed doughnuts, because who doesn’t like doughnuts? So the beignets appeared and I quickly realized that if I was using radishes, one of my favorite kinds was the watermelon radish and so that meant that there was a connection to justify using watermelon in this dish. So the beignets became miniature jelly doughnuts filled with watermelon radish and watermelon jelly.

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A quick radish powder to give a little extra pep (that’s it dusted all over the plate like ruby red snowflakes) and I wanted to see if I could make a candy that was like a Gummi Bear but sour, and so the three watermelon jellies appeared.

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This dish lurched out of the lab and onto menus about a month ago, and so far people are loving it. But it is also protected by selection bias: if someone’s enough of a thrillseeker to order radishes for dessert, they’re exactly the kind of adventurous eater who’s going to love this dish.

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Now that I’ve scaled this mountain/run this marathon/collected this weasel, what challenge is next? How do I keep myself entertained? Running Dirt Candy is never boring, but I think of it as my own personal culinary lab and I’ve spent the last four weeks trying techniques in secret, ordering bizarre equipment and getting ready to step up my game for the Fall. So keep eating here, because if you thought you’d never eat radishes for dessert before, wait until you see what’s coming up. In the testing stages right now? Eggplant cotton candy.

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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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