Monday, November 10, 2008

Dirt Candy

When you’re feeding a tough audience of carnivorous New Yorkers whose vegetarian forays have been marred by creations like, “kelp on a plate” and bean fueled dragon bowls, you better bring it. Amanda Cohen's newly minted Dirt Candy on East 9th St. has brought'n it alright, and oh is it sweet and sassy.

Reading Amanda's (formerly of Pure Food and Wine, Heirloom) declaration on her website, “I don’t care about your health. I don’t care about your politics either,” I knew I had found a kindred sister from a vegetarian mother.

Something you may not know about me, dear Reader, is that I am an unabashed meat lover. One who unapologetically converts the leaf eating, yoga chanting types. Mr. C and I often chuckle about how an order of short ribs corrupted Missy's sensibilities. She spent the entire weekend holed up in her apartment with a bucket of KFC. But I digress.

Upon entering Dirt Candy, you are greeted by pressed recycled wood paneling framed by opaque glass. In this cozy establishment, the atmosphere is warm, the service attentive yet unobtrusive. Mr. C and I ordered the hush puppies to start. The hush puppies were just so but it was the sweet, subtle maple butter carressing my tongue that left an impression.

My second course was a parpadelle dish that I barely recalled, save the disappointment I felt when tasting it. While the parmesan crusted pine nuts were a nice touch, I did not care for the grape balls and the overall sweetness of my entree. The naked cauliflower however, gets a plus for its slightly charred taste.

Mr. C's stone ground grits with pickled shitakes and a tempura poached egg faired much better. This entree sold me with its comforts, like a warm, toasty blanket on a cold day. There were some "Aha!" moments with this dish, one being the mustard greens sneakily leaving a bite on my tongue.

No meal is complete without dessert. We ordered the chocolate cake with chocolate chili ice cream and sweet potato sorbet as well as the popcorn pudding. The sweet potato sorbet really resonated with me. This is what my Japanese grandmas’s sweet potato sorbet tasted like: sweet and filled with memories of home. (Alas, this is if I were Japanese and had a grandma who could cook, much less whip up ice cream). The popcorn pudding was just delightful. Happy, crunchy, buttery caramel popcorn was paired with a subtle pudding.

One can truly see Amanda Cohen's vision for Dirt Candy. Amanda is extremely chipper and highly likeable. Her enthusiasm and passion for her craft is reflected in her earthy, yet complex dishes. With a little fine-tuning, Dirt Candy has the potential to be the vetegarian establishment it is meant to be

Plough on, Dirt Candy, plough on.

1 comment:

Jam Master Jay said...

Love your writing, M. You have certainly brought'n it!