Since classes are almost over, I decided to take a short trip to NY to do some food-related exploring. I drove down Thursday afternoon, checked into the hotel, and took advantage of my good fortune a few days earlier, when I was able to score a table for two at Dirt Candy, an amazingly inventive and delicious vegan/vegetarian restaurant. Since it was highly-acclaimed by critics and customers alike, I was eager to try it, and so was my friend Judy.
The restaurant is on the lower East Side of Manhattan, on 9th Street, between Avenue A and First Avenue. The location provided more impetus to go: this was the neighborhood I lived in 61 years ago, before I left New York, and I was eager to see what it would be like. Here are some photos of our old apartment building, which appears to have held up well.
As I walked down to Ninth Street, I was pleased to find some interesting shops, including a hat store featuring Borsalinos, and a small wine shop with good choices of natural and biodynamic wines. The restaurant itself is tiny, perhaps 10 tables, so getting a reservation was pure luck. A lot has been written about Dirt Candy, but I will let their website provide you most of the details. We shared four dishes:
- Jalapeño Hush Puppies with maple butter (vegan)
- Smoked Broccoli Dogs
All were good, but we both agreed that Mushroom (with its Portobello mousse) and the Broccoli Dogs (which were just like eating a vegan Nathan’s hot dog in Coney Island) were off-the charts. Wine list was very short but acceptable. Definitely lives up to its reputation.
Friday we traveled around the city, first to the Union Square Greenmarket, where it was very chilly and not many vendors. However, Two Guys from Woodbridge (CT) was there with their outstanding selection of micro greens, so I was happy about that. Next we went to BuonItalia at Chelsea Market, for risotto, gaeta and taggiasche olives, and Tropean sweet red onions from Calabria.
Russ & Daughters on Houston St. provided the last Manhattan stop. A few hand-cut slices of smoked salmon, a little chopped herring, and some tofu scallion cream cheese were my choices. Sadly, I gave that package to the hotel desk to refrigerate overnight for me, but I forgot it when I departed, so I got to eat none of my non-vegan delights. C’est la guerre.
The last stop was a visit to Jan D’Amore’s office in Brooklyn (down under the base of the Brooklyn bridge), to catch up with him on his return from VinItaly and to see some of his new wine selections I wanted Judy to meet him as well. He is always so gracious and interesting that it was a fine place to finish the day, which had to be cut short of dinner due to a change in Judy’s schedule.
This is out of sequence, but I must tell you that on the way into the city, I stopped at a little shop in the Bronx for some outstanding expresso. Last month there was an article in the NY Times about La Casa Del Caffe, a truly great slice of Naples on these city streets. Anna Agovino is every bit as charming and talented as the article said, and I loved her espresso.