Foraging for veggies, spices and rice wine in the East Village with Dirt Candy's chef-owner
When she first conceived of vegetarian-centric Dirt Candy, her first solo outing as a chef-owner, Amanda Cohen had her heart set on a space on the Lower East Side—a space, in fact, near Broadway East, the swanky vegetarian restaurant where she had served as a consultant. After months of rough-and-tumble negotiations, the deal fell through. In the end, Cohen settled on a tiny spot on East Ninth Street, not far from where she lived after graduating from NYU. The result: a 18-seat den for sensual vegetarian cuisine.
It is here where she's created her own little local movement, celebrating on her menu the best bounty that her neighborhood has to offer. We joined her for one of her regular excursions through the East Village—from the grocery store she turns to when in a bind, to her spice and olive purveyor, to the sake shop she relies on for rice wine to use in a new paella dish she's creating.
“I like this neighborhood,” she says. “Everybody is kind of specialized in what they do. So it’s different. It’s nice to support the small places.”
By Pervaiz Shallwani; photos by Tod Seelie