Posts Tagged ‘restaurant’

dirt candy dinner

Monday, October 10th, 2011

jalapeno hush puppies and maple butter, yum!

getting excited about eating your veggies has never been easier and a reservation at dirt candy, an innovative vegetarian restaurant in the east village and the latest by amanda cohen (angelika kitchen), is your ticket in. a sense of culinary adventure hits you immediately in this smaller-than-my-studio-apartment-sized, lounge-lit, basement-level gem. starting with the menu, dishes are all named with inclusive exclamation points, as if instructing me to be enthusiastic about my order, like: “carrots!” “cauliflower!” and my surprise favorite, “celery!”.

with a menu like that, my guest and i were curious about everything and decided to order tapas-style in order to taste as much as possible. part of the fun was figuring out how the plates’ namesake had infused the dish as its overarching ingredient, or remembering what elements were involved in the first place as with the carrot halvah dusted over the carrot dish, or the grilled grapes snuck into the celery course.

first to arrive were our jalapeno hush puppies and maple butter appetizer. with a subtle heat, the sweet maple butter was a perfect compliment to these bite-sized snacks. on to “carrots!”, which consisted of steamed barbecue carrot buns, cucumber & sesame ginger salad dusted with the aforementioned carrot halvah. the buns were perfectly dense without feeling too heavy, and the carrots added a light sweetness to the dumplings and salad. “celery!” was composed of king oyster mushrooms, celery, pesto, grilled grapes, and cheese curds that left a surprising, almost willy wonka-esque celery aftertaste which, yes, sounds unappealing but in context actually worked and had me laughing out loud.

our final two courses were “cauliflower!” and “chard!”. i can’t lie to you (or apparently, my waitress: i’m sorry!!! i blame the intimate quarters!), but chard was not my favorite. with chard gnocchi on a bed of (what else?) chard, believe me, i was ready to give it my heart and award it first prize, but not so fast. something wasn’t working for me. i’ll wager to guess it was the garlic oatmeal garnish that left me cold and for which i’ll subtract one exclamation point. the cauliflower though, like most everything else, was a hit. smoky, breaded cauliflower on top of a perfect buttermilk waffle, pickled cauliflower and wild arugula resulted in a delightful mixture of both flavors and textures, ending the meal on a high note. it was the type of dinner that my friend and i left the restaurant still talking about even blocks later, still trying to piece together the flavors that had come together (some more successfully than others) in such a unique way. the meal had certainly kept us on our toes. in other words, “success!”.


dining dutch

Monday, August 1st, 2011

image courtesy of The New York Times; NYTCREDIT: Evan Sung for The New York Times

early last fall, a friend won tickets to a taping of the martha stewart show and i was fortunate enough to tag along. martha looked great, the confetti system piñata she had on set became my new obsession, but it was guest chef andrew carmellini who really stole the show. and though i know enough to take martha’s word for it, i’ve had a hankering to try his cooking for myself ever since.

i had always heard great things about locanda verde‘s rustic italian cuisine but when the dutch opened recently i knew i had to, um, bite the bullet. returning to his american roots for his latest restaurant, carmellini culled inspiration from what “american” means right now, and singularly, what it means in new york city: a melting pot of culture & tradition, spices & innovation. table for two, please!

my guest and i arrived for what carmellini (and my grandmother) endearingly calls “supper”. i washed down the complimentary jalapeno cornbread with a bermuda yacht-club cocktail that hit just the right note, before digging in to some apps: crispy artichokes on a bed of roasted red peppers and onions, an eggplant dip with savory crackers. for the main event, i practically cleaned the bowl once filled with delicious black cod and smoked mushrooms in a yuzu-chili broth while my companion enjoyed his perfectly prepped sea scallops with sweet corn and chipotle (hold the bacon, he’s a veg). we had barely managed to save room for dessert but with that week’s heatwave, three scoops of sorbet – apricot, blueberry, and my favorite, coconut – were too perfect to pass up.

reservations strongly recommended.

~ jamie