Candle 79

 

 

On the last day of spring, my friend Roe and I dined at the famous vegan restaurant, Candle 79, tucked away on 79th street and Lexington. After hearing rave reviews from the rising musical entrepreneur, we decided to go and eat to our stomachs’ content.

And boy, did we.

First off, I had the Housemade Ginger Ale, made with fresh ginger, lemon, agave, mint, and sparkling water… I love ginger and this hit the spot. The drink was almost like a (more delicious) ginger mint mojito.

Roe had the Cherry Fresca which included cherry purée, lemon, agave, chia seeds and sparkling water… A plus about this drink was that it was not overly sweet–I (took a sip and) could totally taste the tart Montmorency cherry flavor, not the typical syrupy-sweet cherry medicinal flavor. It was really refreshing and different.

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We also got an appetizer to start: the Smoked Hummus, which included grilled paratha bread (so delicious), olives, a roasted garlic bulb, and red pepper oil. I devoured the roasted garlic bulb. Roe ate the olives to her heart’s content. We were two happy campers. This appetizer was DELICIOUS!  The bread was warm and flaky, and the hummus super smooth and delicately flavored with red pepper. The garlic was perfectly roasted as well.

Roe also recommends the Guacamole appetizer–“their guac here is SO GOOD!”

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I got their signature dish, the Seitan Piccata: creamed spinach, grilled potato cake, oyster mushrooms, and lemon-caper sauce. This was odd, at first; capers galore and a very liquidy sauce that was challenging to eat with a fork. But somewhere along the way, all the sauce got soaked into the potatoes I believe, and the combination was really, really good. The seitan was also cooked very well and was very reminiscent of chicken cutlet–the best seitan I’ve tried.

Roe had the Burrito, which looked and was very good but too much to actually finish–it includes seitan, black beans, and brown rice and was just too much for one dish.

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We also indulged in post dinner tea: I the vanilla chai, she the coconut cream. The tea came out in individual cast-iron kettles, which was really whimsical and fun. However, the tea was also piping hot and while waiting for it to cool, the tea grew extremely bitter (due to the fresh tea leaves/petals/herbs) and undrinkable.

For dessert, we devoured the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss, which was chocolate and peanut butter mousse, salted peanut-caramel crust, and berry coulis. The chocolate mousse part was decadent and super chocolaty–it really tasted like dairy chocolate (but was, in fact, vegan). The peanut mousse was really mild in comparison and almost undetectable.  The berry coulis offered a nice flavor contrast and cut through the richness of the mousses, and the presentation was lovely.

So as you can see, we went all out (our bill was $93 before taxes!). The prices aren’t extremely high, but let’s just say Roe and I will be doing some less expensive activities in the impending summer weeks. All-in-all, every dollar was totally worth it–the food was super fresh (they use farmer’s market produce) and the service, outstanding. Vegetarians and omnivores alike will be happy and full after a meal at Candle 79.

After lunch, we went for a little stroll in Central Park and made the last bus before rush hour, just before it left. A perfect last hurrah to Spring and first early hello to Summer!

Candle 79 is located at 154 E. 79th Street, at Lexington Avenue.

Liebster Award!

SleepingwithLenin just nominated me for the Liebster Award! Her blog is so fascinating and includes both yummy recipes as well as a glimpse into living in Russia. Thank you for the nomination! The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers.

 

The rules:
Post 11 random facts about yourself.
Answer the 11 questions made by the person who nominated you.
Create 11 questions for the bloggers you pass the award to.
Choose 11 bloggers to pass the award to and mention them in your post.
Go to their blogs and let them know that they have been nominated.

11 random facts about me:

  1. My favorite animal is the cow, ever since I was a kid and I was reading something and discovered that cows have four stomachs. I guess I just thought that was fascinating.
  2. I have the travel bug. I really want to go abroad again. Dream destination: France. Realistic destination: Anywhere I have the opportunity to visit!
  3. I am living the post-graduation dog days of summer before I am thrown into non-stop work for the next 5-6 years. I thrive in both worlds.
  4. I like to shop… I especially like Coach, Tommy Hilfiger, Nine West, and Calvin Klein; those never seem to fail. However, I buy almost all of my dresses from Delia*s… they just fit like a glove!
  5. As far as sleeping, I always lay on my back for a while first. Then I switch to my left side and usually fall asleep like that.
  6. I am PRETTY sure one of my feet is bigger than the other. Shoe shopping is thus frustrating so I generally live in sneakers.
  7. I am an early riser; I used to be a night owl until I began running in the morning. I love waking up with the sun… although in the winter it is a lot more difficult to do!
  8. Current jam: Vampire Weekend’s entire new album. Their music just elevates my mood so much.
  9. I just got a terabyte hard drive. ONE TB. 1000 GBs. This is intense. All my music and photos can be together again!
  10. Jersey girl at heart, but NO ACCENT. Except for cawfee. And bought. And ought. And waddur. Okay, maybe I have a little bit of an accent.
  11. I learned a bit of Mandarin this past summer. All I remember is “hi,” “watermelon,” “thank you,” and “I would like to order two glasses of beer.” I’m sure all will come in handy at some point.

My answers: 

  1. Does your family read your blog? Yes, my mom does and likes every post. My dad is less technological and my brother doesn’t read it as far as I know.
  2. What is the last thing you bought? Some multivitamins… woo. And a new tamper for the Vitamix because … I broke it. Le sigh.
  3. How many people do you live with? Three (my family). Soon to be two (roommates in Ithaca).
  4. What is your next Big thing on your To Do list of life? GRADUATE SCHOOL.
  5. What happens when we die? I am not religious in the slightest but it’s kind of reassuring to think about your passed loved ones watching over you as you go through life.
  6. What is in your fridge? Oh gawd. Well, leftover cheesecake. If it were my mini-fridge from college, there would also be peanut butter and almond butter, strawberry jelly, bread, ground flax, miracle whip, spicy brown mustard, soymilk, and walnuts. Actually, all of those things are in the fridge right now too.
  7. Favorite blog? I think www.HowSweetEats.com. Jessica, the author, is just hilarious and her photography is beautiful. Her recipes have never failed for me.
  8. If, in a hypothetical world, someone forced you to be an animal, what would it be? I always feel like I might be a fox. But I would rather be a bird… specifically a canary or little goldfinch!
  9. What film should I definitely never watch? 1900. Watched this 5-hour epic in an undergrad course called Film and History. It was horrendously slow and has really graphic violence and sex scenes. Imagine watching this in your class full of other female students (I attended an all-women college) with your elderly male professor looking on. Awkward, but educational I suppose… Fascists are CRAZY. Also, Gerard Depardieu is super young and un-fat.
  10. Give us a piece of advice? Remember to be grateful; gratitude is a key to being happy.
  11. Mustaches, yay or nay? NAY. Blech. Facial hair in general = meh.

My questions for the nominees:

  1. Are you the only cook in your family/household?
  2. How do you feel about all the technology that seems to be taking over our lives?
  3. Favorite song that can NEVER be overplayed?
  4. Milk or dark chocolate?
  5. Most embarrassing travel story?
  6. Have you discovered the magical land that is Costco? If so, what do you like to purchase from Costco?
  7. What did you think you would do with your life when you were in high school?
  8. Favorite dessert?
  9. Do you prefer cooking alone or cooking with others?
  10. Coffee or tea?
  11. Walking or running?

Here are the blogs I’d like to nominate, in no particular order:

 Will Do the Dishes

Lindsay Eats

Must Be Tasty

Bite My Blog

Fueled by Plants

Fueled by Vegetables

The Right Recipe

Meet Your Treat

A High School Foodie

The Bootleg Cook

My Life in Scones

Dumpling-making in Haojiping

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My group and i learned how to make simple dumplings while at Haojiping Ethnic School!

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This is the glorious cook who made our meals–breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She made the dough, and only spoke Chinese, so I’m not really sure of how she made it.

This post is more of a trip down memory lane than a recipe.

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Basically, you get a small lump of dough, which you flatten with your hands or a well-floured beer bottle.

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Then, you put a small spoonful of filling into the dumpling and seal the edges. Above is my very good friend Melissa placing some herb mixture into the dumpling!

DSCN3160Ta-da. Many many dumplings.

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Some of us were very creative. Above is a dumpling face.

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The finished product. Dumplings of many shapes and sizes, cooked in a light broth with some soy sauce for flavor.

Somehow, we managed to roll, stuff and seal all of the dough, between bouts of flour-throwing wars and sighs of exasperation of ripped dough! They were pretty yummy.

Versatile Blogger Award

at350degrees, thank you for nominating me for The Versatile Blogger Award! It was so nice to wake up to this notification. I began cooking a variety of foods the summer after high school, and decided to take pictures to remember the pretty dishes. Upon searching for new recipes, I stumbled upon the world of food blogging, and the rest is history! I never thought I’d reach 100 posts nor have so many followers. Thanks for all your support!

Next,

Copy & paste the Versatile Blogger Award logo into your post.

Thank and link back to your nominator.

Divulge 7 facts about you!

Nominate 15 other bloggers for their own Versatile Blogger Award and comment on their blogs to let them know!

Seven Facts:

1. I love to draw. My first career ambition, when I was yay high, was to be an artist.

2. I used to despise running as a kid. Twice around the track (1/2 mile) left my calf muscles burning. Now I almost can’t live without running! My PR for distance is 10 miles, which I ran on my 21st birthday. I felt glorious.

3. Right now I’m looking at graduate programs focused on nutritional biochemistry. Here’s hoping I get in!

4. I play soccer at college, third division. It’s tough (lost my big toenail… twice) but so rewarding. I’m going into my senior year.

5. I do research on bacteriophage and E. coli (a non-pathogenic strain, of course) while at school. I like being in the lab with music blaring… it’s kind of relaxing (even though it can be very frustrating).

6. I love being in the ocean and diving headfirst into the waves before they crash.. or mid-crash, as is often the case. I also hate tanning just to tan and will hide in the shade of the beach umbrella whenever I’m not in the ocean.

7. I AM GOING TO CHINA!!! For 3.5 weeks. In 4 days. To teach English to kids in a rural area of the Hunan Province. I am so excited/apprehensive/nervous/excited. Speaking of China, I am 1/2 Chinese and 1/2 Scottish, Irish, English and German.

Fifteen Blogs:

Made by Mike, blogturtle, Emily Cooks Vegan, Acorn in the Kitchen, A High School Foodie, A Lot on Your Plate, Homemade with Mess, Meet Your Treat, The Goodie Plate, Spoonful of Sugar Free, Whole Wheat or Bust!, Save the Kales!, ChocolateCoveredKatie, Illustrated Bites, Food is My Life, Maggie’s One Butt Kitchen

Restaurant: buco ristorante

Over spring break, we went to buco ristorante, in Clifton, NJ.

Overall?

Quite delish!

We were served some bread and butter — the bread, while not warm, was crusty and had good flavors.

We mainly ordered off of the Specials list for that day/week. We got the crab cake, which was lump crab meat mixed with minced red and green peppers, pan fried and served in a delicious dijon mustard sauce with capers and a crinkly green lettuce garnish that nicely offset the more neutral colors of the main parts of the dish. The crab cake was creamy and deliciously flavorful, and did not have the thick deep-fried breading that is so characteristic of sub-par crab cakes.

Mom got a beet salad with a creamy dressing on arugula, with red onions. She enjoyed it quite a bit but wasn’t a fan of the abundance of red onions… about a 1/2 cup of them were left on the plate. But the beets had a nice flavor to them that complemented the dressing well.

I got the gorgonzola and walnut ravioli. The ravioli was filled with deliciously savory ricotta, and topped with a chopped tomato sauce with garlic slices that were tender, yet not biting; I don’t know how they got rid of the sharp garlic flavor (e.g. by roasting/cooking for a long time) while still maintaining a “bite” in terms of texture. In other words, really delicious. I was going to get some kind of seafood (their salmon with raspberry sauce; a shrimp scampi dish) but this meal caught my eye and having never had gorgonzola cheese (which I can now say is delicious) and walnuts with ravioli (another win) I decided to give it a try. Yum. No regrets here.

And dessert. Of course. A delicious, warm flourless chocolate cake, with two scoops of vanilla ice cream and a delicious raspberry/mango? apricot? passion fruit? coulis/sauce that was beautifully presented and perfect for sharing.

I had thought that desserts in restaurants weren’t really worth it, but then I made a goal that if a restaurant does offer the irresistible molten chocolate / ice cream combination, it MUST be tried for comparative purposes. Because as I say in my Chocolate Pudding Cake post/recipe, this dessert is the mother of all desserts and my absolute favorite.

ANYWAY

So… buco ristorante served up a delicious lunch and I would totally go there again. Prices are not bad, and although on a busy street, inside it is very peaceful and an ideal place for business meetings (as we witnessed). The staff were very welcoming and timely with the food, and clearly have rapport with some clients.

Try it if you are looking for good Italian food and you are in the area!

Restaurant: Nobu

Spontaneous 2+ hour lunch breaks are awesome.

Especially when you go to Nobu, the “world’s most recognized Japanese restaurant” and eat a delicious 3 course meal (105 Hudson St., NY). My friend and I ate here for Restaurant Week.

The Squid Pasta with a Light Garlic Sauce. I tasted a mushroom off of her plate; it was so smooth and tender, and the garlic sauce wasn’t too strong and just perfect. (Unfortunately, on a return trip, this appetizer was no longer being offered.)

I got the Sashimi Salad with Matsuhisa Dressing. The tuna steaks were seared on the outside but lovely and raw on the inside, super delicious. However, the dressing was extremely salty–it appeared to be made of finely chopped onions and handfuls of sea salt. I must have downed 4 glassfuls of water during this course.

My friend (and the next time, I) got the Assorted Sushi entree. We weren’t sure of the type of fish it came with other than the salmon, tuna, and shrimp. The sushi was super delicious and fun to eat; that little bamboo leaf was a cute and simple touch. Also, got to eat salmon roe, mah favee. The rice was cooked really nicely and it was just a super yummy meal.

I got the Arctic Char with Crispy Baby Spinach. This was AH-MAZING. It tastes like a very light, flaky salmon. I loved the crispy spinach and slices of garlic; they added a nice subtle crunch to the fish. When I came back, my friend got this but wasn’t as thrilled; he said it tasted too “fishy”, wasn’t a fan of the orange zest flavor in the sauce, and that it was too raw for his liking inside. However, I quite enjoyed it.

For dessert was a very strange but yummy tiramisu/profiterole concoction. I wished they had served mochi ice cream or something a bit more Japanese/Asian than this, but it was tasty nonetheless. The chocolate on top was crunchy and cocoa powdery and it was fun to dig into the cream puffs.

Nobu was definitely a good choice for Restaurant Week lunch, at least in my opinion. The atmosphere inside is interesting; a bamboo stick room divider makes you feel like you’re in a forest. Try to get a seat by the window to feel more involved with the world; or, if you’re feeling antisocial, a seat in the back can be good. The regular menu is very expensive, but it all looked really good and interesting. I wouldn’t come back for RW this year (seeing as I have done so twice already) but I would to sample their regular menu (if I suddenly won the lottery or something).

-Update-

On a second trip, I tried a different appetizer — a miso-glazed (I think) black cod lettuce taco with shaved radish salad. It was quite delicious… a nice sweet/crunchy combination.