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Nanaimo

I was baffled when I came to the US and discovered that no one here knew what Nanaimo Bars were. With a cookie base, a cream filling and a chocolate top, they are a constant presence at Canadian bake sales, birthday parties and in the baked goods sections of supermarkets. Intensely sweet – maybe even a little too sweet – they are to Canada what the brownie is to America (although the brownie is also to Canada what the brownie is to America, so Canada wins twice) and they come in a lot of different varieties: grasshopper nanaimo (mint), peanut butter nanaimo, any flavor you can imagine can be nanaimoed. They’re distinguished by their creamy middle layer and their hard, shiny chocolate top.

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Recently I was in Ottawa for my great-uncle’s funeral and I stumbled across my old friends, the Nanaimo Bars, waiting for me at the family gathering afterwards. Every kid has a relative who dotes on them, and my Uncle Gordy thought I hung the moon. When I walked into his house after the funeral and saw a plate of Nanaimo Bars I took it as a sign that they had to go on the menu at Dirt Candy, plus they’re insanely delicious. And so, starting this weekend, our new dessert is the Sweet Pea and Mint Nanaimo Bar.

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Invented in the late 1950′s by a housewife in Nanaimo, British Columbia as her entry in a recipe contest in a local magazine, the Nanaimo Bars were embraced by a country starved for unique desserts named after local cities and they swept Canada like a mild-mannered wildfire. We start with a cookie base, but I’ve always been bothered by the fact that the cookie base usually contains coconut, so the Dirt Candy version has no coconut in it. Then we put a layer of cream filling over the base, top that with a layer of sweet pea and mint ice cream (this would technically be a Grasshopper Nanaimo in Canada, although the sweet pea wouldn’t be in it then, and the mint and sweet pea works so well together and it tastes so much like summer that I can’t do it without the sweet pea, so technically I guess it wouldn’t be a Grasshopper Nanaimo, after all) and a layer of hard chocolate. In another non-traditional touch, the Dirt Candy Nanaimo bar is frozen.

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Nanaimo bars were one of my favorite things to eat when I was a kid, and I’ve missed them a lot, but it took my Uncle Gordy to make me get off my butt and figure out how to make my own. I’m pretty sure he’d love them.

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(More on Nanaimo Bars)

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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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