Dinner: Dirt Candy

A party of four: Robyn, Veronica, Melissa, and I. There are four appetizers, four entrees, four desserts, and one “snack” on the menu at the vegetarian Dirt Candy in the East Village.

So what did we do? Why, order the whole menu of course ;)

Appetizers were the sure highlight of the meal. Among the quartet of main entrees, “Corn” was the table favourite. Desserts? I liked the Popcorn Pudding best, while Robyn wiped out two servings of the Nanaimo Bar. We’ll be back when menu changes to Spring. Right now they’re serving up a “Sprinter” menu.

The breakdown in photos, below:

Jalapeno Hush Puppies – Served with Maple Butter
Pizza Bianca (Sullivan Street Bakery), and Herbed Olive Oil

Pea – Garden Pea Broth, Spring Pea Flan, and Wasabi Pea Leaves
…post-pour of garden pea broth!
Mushroom – Portobello Mousse, Truffled Toast, and Pear & Fennel Compote
Here’s a closer look at the portobello mousse. They served this same mousse at the Village Voice Choice Eats 2009. No reason to change a good thing ;)
Carrot – Steamed Barbecue Carrot Buns, Cucumber & Sesame Ginger Salad
Pumpkin – Winter Salad, Four Varieties of Squash, Toasted Pepitas, Pumpkin Oil, and Blue Cheese Crouton

Corn – Stone Ground Grits, Corn Cream, Pickled Shiitakes, Huitlacoche, and Tempura Poached Egg
Eggplant – Black Olive Fettuccine, Eggplant Jam, Pickled Eggplants, Basil Broth, and Ricotta
Parsnip – Parsnip Gnocchi, Creamy Root Vegetable Slaw, and Carrot Cake Crumbs
Broccolini – Crispy Tofu, Broccoli & Broccolini, and Orange Beurre Blanc

Popcorn Pudding – Salted Caramel Corn
Red Pepper Velvet Cake – White Chocolate and Peanut Ice Cream
Fennel Funnel Cake – Caramelized Mango and Fennel with Chocolate Sorbet
Ice Cream Nanaimo Bar – Sweet Pea, Mint, Chocolate
Oh! And because, “April is Emotional Overeating Awareness Month“…we received another round of desserts on the house!

Happy Friday! Dinner at Pylos tonight, and off to Honolulu tomorrow :)

Dirt Candy

430 East 9th Street
New York, NY 10009
(212) 228-7732

Weekday Staples: Otto, Luzzo’s, Grand Sichuan

Lot of staples this week, solid and reliable neighborhood spots. Otto twice in the last four days, Grand Sichuan on a Tuesday night with Monsieur P, and Luzzo’s with Shann last night. We split the large Ripieno pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, mushrooms, spicy salame, ham, and basil. Tiramisu for dessert. Luckily Luzzo’s is around the corner from our apartment so we can waddle and lug our full bellies just a few steps to home. I keep meaning to try their fried and square pizzas…one day, one day :)

Otto is still my favourite spot for an early Sunday dinner and weekday lunch. It’s light on the pocketbook, and yet feels wonderfully decadent. Especially when you have a seat at the bar, prosecco in hand, a gorgeous plate of pasta in front of you. I tend to fall the way of the Taccozette con Stracotto, pictured above. Taccozette is the shape of the pasta – a sort of mini-lasagna square. It’s paired with hearty braised pork shoulder, tomatoes and basil. Can you imagine how delicious this is, especially when it is cold or raining outside?

I also love the Taccozzotte con Piselli e Ricotta, which they recently put back on the menu. It’s a bright spring affair of mint and fresh pea pesto, finished with ricotta. Robyn has a great photo of the dish. I suspect this will only be around for another month before they rotate it off menu.
Oh yes, the Pasta alla Norma is high on my list as well! Fresh ricotta, eggplant, what’s not to love? This past Sunday we shared the Taccozette con Stracotto, the Sunchoke and Escarole Salad, and a five-cheese plate between two. We did the CT Coach Triple Cream (goat), the NY Ubriaco (cow), TOS Aged Peppercorn (goat), EMI Taleggio (cow), and LOM Gorgonzola Dolce (cow). Otto has a well-selected, varied selection, though I wish they would switch the choices up more frequently.

And don’t forget: it’s never a complete meal here without gelato.

Monsieur P and I go to Grand Sichuan quite a bit. The waitresses there love him and his accent ;) Thus I find the service is always better when he’s also at the dinner table, hahahah. Our meals typically start with hot oil wontons. Eight pieces to an order, doused in a spicy shoyu-based sauce. We save the sauce and then dump it over bowls of hot rice. So incredibly ono.

We used to order soup dumplings, though got tired of them a few months back. Next up is a vegetable dish…usually pea shoots, ong choi, or Chinese broccoli. The pea shoots are my absolute favourite. Love the crispy string beans as well…
…And then a meat/seafood dish. Cumin beef and tea smoked duck are my go-to dishes, but Monsieur is partial to their shrimp dishes. Fried shrimp, sautéed shrimp, shrimp with broccoli, shrimp in garlic sauce…oh boy, this list could go on forever.

Well, hope your week is going great! I’m going to stay in tonight – maybe get a few cheeses from Murray’s for dinner (got a great tawny port yesterday and need something equally wonderful to pair ;), and pack for my trip. I get to Hawai’i Saturday afternoon, and have family dinner at Hakkei!!! I am so excited!

Luzzo’s Pizza
211 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(212) 473-7447

1 Fifth Avenue
NY, NY 10003
(212) 995-9559

Grand Sichuan
23 Saint Marks Place
New York, NY 10003
(212) 529-4800

Hawai’i: The Dessert Files

I am going home to Hawai’i this weekend!!

…and will be there for two weeks! First week is a family reunion / finishing up the new house. And the second week, Robyn is visiting! There will be lots of (good) food both weeks.
I often receive emails asking what are the best places to eat in Hawai’i, and more specifically, where are the best spots for DESSERT, the “can’t miss” sweets for an island vacation. Sometime it takes a while to respond to these emails. So instead of writing different versions of essentially the same emails over and over again, I put up a page called The Hawai’i Dessert Files. I hope this will be helpful :) I wrote up a few lines on my top ten favourite desserts on the island that you can get to go (none are from sit down restaurants which makes it easier for you!)

The problem is, there are MORE than just ten awesome desserts on the island. So this list may eventually grow to 20…or 30! Maybe even 50! bwhahahah. I will continue to add, revise, and update. And please let me know if I left out anything you love!

Here’s a quick rundown of desserts in no particular order, please click here for the full post.

1. Local Shave Ice
2. Malassadas
3. Mochi
4. Bubbies Mochi Ice Cream
5. Coco Puffs from Liliha Bakery
6. Ani’s Sweet Bread
7. Panya’s Hokkaido Bread
8. Bread Pudding from Kaka’ako Kitchen
9. Chocolate-Haupia Pie at Ted’s Bakery
10. Local Papaya, Mango, and Avocado

I will eventually put up another page of top ten desserts from restaurants.

Sugar Rush’ed…

…for the week at Serious Eats New York. Plus ‘Lunch for One’ at Franklin Cafe, and a look at Cafe Pedlar’s new breakfast/lunch menu…the Bikini Sandwich at El Quinto Pino…and plenty of sweets. Will surely be back to Silver Moon Bakery this weekend for that killer Pain au Lait!!
Lunch for One: Franklin Cafe Tavola Calda
Sugar Rush: Watermelon Juice at Num Pang
Sugar Rush: Tiramisu at Roni-Sue’s Chocolates
Lunch for One: Cafe Pedlar’s New Breakfast and Lunch Menu
A Sandwich a Day: Bikini at El Quinto Pino
Sugar Rush: Pot de Creme at Three Tarts
Sugar Rush: Tres Leches Cake at La Lucha
Sugar Rush: Pain au Lait at Silver Moon Bakery

Dinner: Bobo, L’Artusi

Last week I was lucky enough to visit two restaurants that have been on my mental “to-go” list…slowly checking them off :) Monsieur P and I met for after work drinks in the West Village at Bobo. Cocktails for me and wine for him. We had 8:30pm reservations at L’Artusi, though were so happy with the drinks and bartender at Bobo that we briefly considered staying for dinner.
…only my pasta craving was out of control and couldn’t satisfy that at Bobo. So off to L’Artisu where we waited for half an hour past our reservation time before they sat us.

We started with the Scallops, raw, thinly sliced and served with sea salt, olive oil, lemon, and espelette pepper. Then shared the dish I was especially craving – Parppardelle with Rabbit Ragu…goodness this was delicious. Gorgeous wide ribbons, al dente…shavings of cheese melting into each bite, the ragu, tender and oh so hearty. I could eat pasta everyday of my life. Otto, Caffe Falai, and Po are the pasta places I visit most often, but if I had a higher pasta budget I would be at Lupa, Convivio, Dell’Anima, Alto, and now, here more frequently.
We also had the Tai Snapper with artichokes, meyer lemon, and radicchio…but my mind was already on dessert, heheh.
Yes, one Olive Oil Cake to share. A single wedge, dark brown crust dusted in powdered sugar. It hovered on the dry end of spectrum, surely a no-no for olive oil cake. On the side: raisin marmelatta with vin santo, and a lush whallop of creme fraiche mousse. Abraço still makes the best olive oil cake in the city, but it’s always fun to try different versions.

181 West 10th Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 488-2626

228 W 10th Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 255-5757