Thursday, October 11, 2012

Book Review - Candle 79

Today's featured give away cookbook is brought to you by the fine folks at 10 Speed Press. Candle 79 Cookbook is the beautiful hardback tome by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos and Jorge Pineda of Candle Cafe and Candle 79, both premier New York restaurants. I have never had the pleasure of dining at either place, but I own both "Candle" cookbooks. One fabulous commenter mentioned THIS blog post over at Lisa's Project: Vegan Blog. It is a great interview with Bart Potenza, the owner of the "Candle" restaurants. You can learn about the latest addition to their family of restaurants.


First off the cover is just stunning. The Nori- and Sesame- Crusted Seitan practically jumps off of the page at you. The photography in this volume is some of the best food photography I have seen (and believe me, I've seen a lot of it...especially this month!!). I truly believe the saying that you eat with your eyes first. Well, my friends, I have feasted and now need to be rolled out the door. The enticing pictures make it nearly impossible to chose what to try.

The term foodie is so well worn, but I am indeed one of those types. I love stunning presentations, complex flavors and textures, new and unusual flavor combinations and don't mind spending a lot of time toiling in the kitchen. As a matter of fact, when time allows, spending quality time in my kitchen is one of my favorite past times. While I am sure there are dishes in this book that do not fit that description, the ones that do have stolen my heart and I look forward to recreating these delicious works of art.

The author gives a short and sweet introduction and then get right into the recipes. There is a nice brief glossary and a list of resources in the back of the book. The index is easy to use. But there is not much else in the way of guidance in the book. This book might not be a beginners cookbook, but for the novice or experienced cook the authors' no nonsense, get right to the cooking approach makes this book just right.

One of the best dishes I ever made from Candle 79 was from the greatly missed Vine and Dine feature. It was the Chile Grilled Tofu with Avocado Tomatillo Sauce (pg. 76). Click here for more on that dish with picture! It makes my mouth water every time I think of it!

Whenever I have the opportunity, I love to wow my non-veg friends with some impressive vegan fare. I found my opportunity this time when my sister threw a "girls' night in" party. Everyone was to bring an appetizer. I knew I could find that wow factor in the Candle 79 Cookbook. As I paged through the book, I saw a beautiful picture of the Arancini with Roasted Plum Tomato Sauce (pg. 15). This was it!

I made the Roasted Plum Tomato Sauce (pg. 116) first. While it was simmering, I started working on the Arancini (which is a fancy pants name for risotto balls). Now risotto is not really hard to make, but it requires patience and almost constant stirring once the process gets started.  So I made sure to set up a good mis en place so I wouldn't have to leave my needy starch. I subbed tofu bacon I had left over from another recipe for the tempeh bacon. It worked OK, but I am quite certain in hind sight that the tempeh bacon would have been much better. I rolled the lovely slightly sticky risotto orbs in panko and Fred browned them to crispy perfection.

The texture was amazing and they were so perfectly golden. The flavor was a little on the bland side. I think next time I will use a rich veggie broth in the risotto and up the spices in the tomato sauce. A little tweaking and they will be even better next time. The girls loved them. After the party, one of the girls mentioned she had to hold back so that others could have some!


Every so often I like to do the swanky fine dine. For today's giveaway, leave a comment about an unforgettable fine dining experience, a dream dinner you'd like to have or even a restaurant you have always dreamed of going to by midnight MST tonight 10/11/12. This one if for US shipping only. 

Tomorrow the winner will be announced an excerpt / recipe from the book will be posted, so make sure to check back! 

22 comments:

  1. Living in the country, I've never had a fine dining experience. I also don't know much about them. I would love to go to one of Potenza's restaurants, however, after reading that article and seeing some of the recipes in this book. It would be nice to have a "fancy" vegan meal once in my life, even if I have to make it myself with this cookbook!

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  2. Appropriately enough, one of the best fine dining experiences I had was at Candle 79 earlier this year! It was a very special night, not just because of the food itself but because of what we were celebrating (major creative milestone achieved). And I went with two omnis who absolutely LOVED everything they tried, so that felt like a triumph too!

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  3. I want to experience the Vedge Restaurant in Philadelphia.

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  4. I still haven't been to Candle 79! and I have no excuse since I live in NY. Most of my fanciest meals are meals that I have prepared myself.

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  5. Nice! I've eaten at Candle 79 and it was amazing!

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  6. I live in the southwest and have never dined at either Candle. I would love to get a taste of their food. The closest I've come is their frozen meals at Whole Food, which are yummy, but I'm certain fresh would be amazing :)

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  7. Wow this looks beautiful. I've always wanted to dine at Candle 79, but have never been geographically close to it. Some day though!

    One of my most memorable dining experiences was eating a tempeh-fried brownie in hot fudge soup at the Great Sage in Clarksville MD. The thing was bigger than my hand and delicious beyond words.

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  8. My most memorable fine dining experience would have to be at Greens in SF. The crostini with fresh porcini mushrooms I had us one of the best things I've ever had.

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  9. what an amazing giveaway! I've *almost* bought this book many times, but I still don't have it. When we were in Siracusa, in Sicily, the proprietor at our Bed & Breakfast suggested his favorite restaurant to us. It was just uncomfortably far from the city center, in someone's house, and you had to ring the doorbell to get in. We arrived at about 9:45 pm, on a weeknight, and were very lucky to get seated. The two front rooms of the house were packed with tables and diners... and the walls were decorated with funky family art. All the food was made by 3 Italian ladies in the kitchen and it was absolutely superb. Fresh, simple, lightly seasoned, and just delicious. We ended up going there three days in a row. We just knew it couldn't possibly be beat.

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  10. I've never been to a vegan restaurant! So my fondest wish is to have a WHOLE MENU of delicious things to choose from. The closest thing to vegan fine dining we have here is a pub with delicious vegan mac and cheese. I swear, when they put the plate in front of me, the whole world fades away and it's just me and my macaroni, whirling and swirling and singing together in an awesome food-induced psychedelic dream sequence.

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  11. The book looks amazing!

    My dream dinner(s) would be to eat my way through all the vegan restaurants in NYC. That would be a dream come true!

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  12. Leslie amajorrecords@msn.comOctober 11, 2012 at 8:57 AM

    I don't live anywhere near a fine dining vegan establishment. Just being able to make the trip to Seattle a few times a yeaer to fill myself full of comfort food at Wayward Cafe, Pizza Pi, Mighty O donuts, etc fills my heart full of joy!

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    1. If you're coming to Seattle for Wayward then be still your heart fine dining is only a few miles away. Check out Sutra in Seattle. It's in the Wallingford neighborhood and it's exceptional fine dining.

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  13. Here in Seattle we have a restaurant called Sutra. Sutra is the most fabulous dining experience ever. It's all fresh and local. Some of it comes right from their garden, some comes from foragers and local farms. It's farm to table. Nothing processed, completely vegan and oh so wonderful. My boyfriend and I try to go a couple times a year. Since it's all local the menu changes every two weeks based on what is in season and what their foragers can get. Did I mention it's wonderful?

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  14. Looks amazing! We live in Northern AZ where there are very few vegan options. Trips to Phoenix take us to Green for awesome vegan comfort food:) Would love to try these at home.
    My SIL just moved to Seattle...I'll share with her for sure:)

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  15. Candle 79 was the best vegan dining experience I have ever had, definitely. I was in town for business, and persuaded my brother and girlfriend (non-veggies) to go with me. The food was of course astounding. My brother was amazed by his Seitan Piccata. My chili grilled tofu was out of this freaking world. I love that place, it is so classy, the service is great.

    I got into a discussion with the server and the chef about Seitan. I was saying how I made it the 'lazy' way (i.e. vital wheat gluten, not the washing method, which is what they do for some dishes). They were kind of amazed to meet a home cook that made their own seitan!

    It was nice to show my veg-suspicious brother that vegan food can be 'fine dining'. It was a lovely evening :)

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  16. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of a vegan fine dine experience that I have had is a dinner my sister took me to at Posh in Scottsdale, AZ. It was the first and only time I have participated in improvisational dining. What is that you ask? It is a manner of dining in which the guest provides just enough information about preferences and dietary restrictions to the chef. You pick how many courses you want and then the chef works his magic! While Posh is not vegan, my sister called ahead and requested all vegan courses. It was absolutely one of the most incredible dining experiences I have had. The food was not only fresh and delicious but the presentations were innovative and over the top! If you are reading this, you probably love a culinary adventure - improv dining is a blast. The anticipation of each course reminded me of when I was a kid on C-mas eve so excited to see what Santa was going to bring me C-mas morning. Thanks sister for that very memorable experience - one of my favorite photos of us is from this evening - remember?

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  17. Unfortunately, I've never really experienced "fine dining" before. Though after looking through the menu of Candle 79, I have realized that I've been missing out. I already know exactly what I would order- though I would have to attend many times because it all sounds so good.

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  18. I dream of going to Candle 79 in person. I have heard do much about it, see that they have some frozen meals available, but I get to NYC once every decade it seems ( and the last time was before I was veg).

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  19. I'm not much of a fine dining kinda gal. The last time I ate at a fancy was years ago, before I was vegan. I was at a party for my grandparent's anniversary. The thing I remember most about that night was that the wait staff were standing around the room waiting for your glass to be even a little empty to run over and fill it. It kinda weirded me out, haha.

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  20. I actually do really want to get to Candle 79 someday, especially for the arancini. I grew up with the most excellent rice balls from my Siciian grandmother but haven't had anything even close since then, and certainly not vegan!
    Now if only they'd let me eat them in my pajamas like I used to do... :)

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  21. If I could get a sitter, I'd go to Vedge in Philly, and if she slept over, I'd love to go to Candle 79, too!

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