Authors: Arthur and Michelle
Restaurant: Dirt Candy
Exec Chef: Amanda Cohen
Date: February 25, 2014
Dirt Candy is one of my favorite vegetarian restaurants in the city, and the dishes manage to consistently be both imaginative and delicious. Chef Cohen and her restaurant are doing fantastic, and they’re even opening up a bigger restaurant (because it’s really small and hard to get reservations at right now) in fall 2014. You can see her blog post about it here.
Some items, like the hush puppies, mushroom appetizer, beans entrée, corn entrée, Nanaimo Bar, and celery cheesecake roll, are well-liked dishes that have been on the menu for at least 10 months now. (They were on the menu when I went in April.) Other items, like the spinach appetizer, broccoli entrée, and popcorn pudding, have been on the menu for a few months now—I actually think that these are the best dishes on the menu. The newest dishes are the cucumber appetizer, potato appetizer, and beets entrée, and they aren’t bad—I just don’t think they’re as good as the others. Honestly, though, all of the dishes are worth trying! (Just make sure you at least get spinach, broccoli, and the popcorn pudding haha.)
Jalapeño Hush Puppies
with maple butter.
Michelle: The maple butter was crack. I could eat that butter all day long. I debated eating it straight up with a spoon, like you’d eat Nutella. The hush puppies were delicious too. Not too spicy.
Arthur: The hush puppies are good. The jalapeño flavor isn’t too strong; it’s just right. However, I can’t say that they’re that special. The maple butter, though, actually is fantastic. The butter’s smooth, soft, and easy to cut through, and the maple flavor manages to shine through (without being distracting). It does a fantastic job of complementing the hush puppies. Eating the two together forms a great combination of sweet, spicy, salty, and umami!
Hot potato salad, crispy Japanese yams, grilled sweet potato, olives, bitter greens, and apples.
Michelle: This was probably my dream come true. Potatoes in every form possible. Including fry-like potatoes on top.
Roasted cucumber hot & sour soup, black sesame, garlic chili oil, wood ear mushroom, and cucumber jelly.
Michelle: The jellies were pleasing to eat. Perfectly squishy. They also reminded of zebras. I usually hate hot and sour soup, but I liked this. The jellies may have helped.
Spinach and grapefruit mille-feuille with smoked pistachios and ricotta.
Michelle: This would be the savory, rustic, hearty farmer brother to the lady m cake… if farmer brothers ate spinach.
Arthur: I love the spinach mille-feuille here. The spinach, grapefruit, and ricotta parts are rich and creamy, and the pastry layers and pistachios help cut through the richness. It’s really hearty, reminiscent of heartier meat dishes.
Beet gnocchi, salt-roasted beets, Thai green curry, whipped galangal coconut cream.
Arthur: Chef Cohen has a pretty good blog post on how this dish came to be; you can read it here.
Michelle: I didn’t get the beet gnocchi. Like where is the gnocchi? I ate lots of beet here though.
Stone-ground grits, tempura-poached egg, corn cream, and pickled shiitake mushrooms.
Michelle: I fully enjoyed this dish. As did Arthur. Because Chris doesn’t eat egg and neither of us remembered/cared about what she disliked most in the world. I’d want this egg as the egg in my eggs Benedict.
Arthur: I love eggs. And I love grits. Combining the two (especially with the creamy yolk going around) with the corn cream yielded an amazing result. There wasn’t anything acidic in this dish; it felt very rustic and earthy, and that’s how I liked it.
Smoked broccoli dogs, broccoli kraut, and salt & vinegar broccoli rabe.
Michelle: The healthiest hot dog ever. Except not really because it’s got white bread and the fattiest mayo thing. But this was still my favorite. Maybe this is how parents can get their kids to eat broccoli.
Arthur: The hot dogs here have a lot of broccoli flavor, but they also managed to have a very “meaty” feel to them. It’s hard to explain it well because it sounds silly for this to be “meaty” until you actually try it! Ditto what Michelle said. I would totally eat this as a kid, and I did NOT like broccoli when I was young.
Popcorn pudding with butterscotch, hazelnut, and caramel. Served with salted caramel popcorn on the side.
Michelle: My absolute f***ing favorite.
Arthur: This is one of those desserts where you decide to try a bite and inevitably end up taking more and more bites until it’s all gone… even though you told yourself you wouldn’t touch any desserts because of the carbs/sugar.
Restaurant: Eleven Madison Park:
Exec Chef: Daniel Humm
February 23, 2014
NEW MENU! YAY!
Eleven Madison Park updated their menu in late January, which is fairly recent. I made a reservation when I got the opportunity, and I was really excited to see what new dishes and presentations they came up with—I was also curious to see what they got rid of. Devastatingly, they got rid of my beloved egg cream. Sad times. However, they added some great new dishes, like the beef pastrami course!
To start the meal, we had to open a small envelope containing two tickets. We were supposed to choose the flavor that we considered the most intriguing or liked the most by taking out the symbol. Later on in the meal, we found the flavors we chose represented in various ways! I chose maple, while Steve chose fennel.
Authors: Arthur and Michelle
Restaurant: Per Se
Exec Chef: Thomas Keller
Chef de Cuisine: Eli Kaimeh
Date: February 22, 2014
My friend’s birthday recently passed, and I wanted to celebrate with her by getting lunch at Per Se. All four of us really like Per Se, so we were very excited about having the opportunity to go. We made our reservation a few weeks in advanced and waited in eager anticipation for the upcoming foodfest!
The meal was wonderful as always. The “Oysters and Pearls” were fantastic (but this isn’t really new), the poularde/hen was wonderful, and the slow-roasted carrots were unusually soft and flavorful. The desserts were also better than I remember.
Also, my friend Michelle is going to be adding her own comments for this one. They’re the best hahaha. We have got to have her commenting more often…
Gruyère cheese gougeres
Salmon tartare with sweet red onion crème fraîche and black sesame tuile
Arthur: We started off with Per Se’s usual starters, the Gruyère cheese gougeres and salmon cornets. These, as always, were delicious. I totally forgot to take pictures here… Oh well. You can see them in the other Per Se posts!
BUTTERNUT SQUASH “VELOUTÉ”
Parmesan mousse and black winter truffle
Michelle: This was tasty. I ate the flower.
“OYSTERS AND PEARLS”
“Sabayon” of pearl tapioca with Island Creek oysters and Sterling white sturgeon caviar
Michelle: This was also tasty. No flowers.
WHITE TRUFFLE OIL–INFUSED EGG CUSTARD
“Ragoût” of black winter truffles
Michelle: Oh I remember I liked this. But no flowers either.
FOREST MUSHROOM “TARTE”
Sunny-side-up quail egg, broccolini florettes, heirloom cauliflower, and winter chicories
Michelle: Purpley flowers!
SLOW-ROASTED CARROT “EN CROÛTE”
Petite onions and raisin-caraway seed vinaigrette
Michelle: I like carrots. And the purpley things look like flower petals.
Cocktail artichokes, Jingle bell peppers, Cerignola olives, Sylvetta arugula, and “Bagna Càuda”
Michelle: I think I captured the light well in this photo. See the leafy things and how transparent they look. And the fish tasted a bit like sashimi. Very yummy.
BUTTER-POACHED NOVA SCOTIA LOBSTER
“Ris de Veau”, wild rice, Vadouvan curry–compressed apples, French breakfast radishes, and “Sauce Blanquette”
Michelle: Also yummy. The red things looked like flowers but were not flowers. I think they were a vegetable of some kind. Deceptive.
FOUR STORY HILL FARM’S POULARDE
Wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon, “Purée de Pommes de Terre”, Persian cucumbers, sungold tomatoes, Miner’s Lettuce, and “Ranch” jus
Arthur: They showed us the hen before cutting it up. It smelled wonderful.
Michelle: Those thighs. Should’ve gone to pure barre.
Michelle: The ranch jus did not taste like ranch. I’m glad because I don’t like ranch. Too many Doritos as a kid. Scarred for lyfe.
“Parmigiano-Reggiano” and shaved black winter truffles
Michelle: The truffles were very pretty. Like all veiny and weird and funky.
HERB-ROASTED MIYAZAKI WAGYU
Crispy bone marrow, wilted pea tendrils, and sweet carrot emulsion
Michelle: This cow had never seen a pure barre in its life. And for that I’m glad.
ELYSIAN FIELDS FARM’S “CÔTE D’AGNEAU”
Green asparagus, fava beans, cipollini onion shoots, and Thousand Island “Gastrique”
I have no real comments about this other than that:
1) That one lonely stalk of asparagus was very tasty. It’s got some funny stringy things wrapped around it that made it crispy.
2) The square thing in the front reminded of roast pork in dimsum.
WOODCOCK FARM’S “WESTON WHEEL”
Roasted salsify, Sicilian pistachio, Mâche, and apricot “Mostarda”
Michelle: Oh I love cheese. And the bread was so soft and warm.
Compressed pineapple, golden raisins, carrot soda, and dehydrated yogurt
Michelle: The soda confused me. But I really liked the color. It was like Revlon’s peach parfait lipstick.
Arthur: The dehydrated yogurt complemented the acidity of the pineapple and soda and also gave the palate cleanser more substance (in texture). The pineapples were, as expected, firm and also popped with flavor. The carrot soda was unexpectedly good, softly complementing the yogurt and the sweetness of the pineapple and raisins.
COCONUT ICE CREAM
Rice water and “Mochi”
Michelle: Maybe my favorite dessert. Refreshing and the rice water reminded me of rice cakes. And I love rice cakes.
Arthur: This was wonderful. I probably liked it a lot more than I otherwise would have because it was so familiar to an Asian palate. The ice cream (made via Pacojet) was very smooth, as expected, and the mocha provided some chewiness that worked well with the melt-in-your-mouth aspect of the ice cream.
Aerated chocolate, white rum–soaked “Génoise”, and “Crème Pâtissière” marshmallow
Michelle: The honeycomb thing reminded me of a fancy aero bar. The marshmallow at the bottom pleased Helen because it was heavily reeking of alcohol.
Arthur: I actually felt that this was the weakest dessert of the three sweet courses. There were varying levels of sweetness and texture, but I felt like there was no “wow” factor. Maybe the concept just isn’t that interesting. Hmm.
-Toffee cookies with honey, lemon, and pine nut
-Caramel digestif biscuit
Michelle: I love the toffee the mostest.
-24 house-made chocolates
-Cinnamon-sugared brioche doughnuts with cappuccino semifreddo (“Coffee and Doughnuts”)
Michelle: I ate both things here. Arthur did not. For the record.
Arthur: Nope, I did not :(. I’ve had this a few times already haha. I’m okay with not having it now. Sugar and calories!
Top: Nougats and caramel
Middle: Lime macarons and black tea–and–honey macarons
Michelle: I also enjoyed all the desserts here. The green macarons were tastier than their brown counterparts.