Birthday Dinner at Candle 79
June 7, 2009


A quick, somewhat sleepy post to thank you all for the tremendous outpouring of sweet birthday wishes today. I am so lucky to have been in your thoughts! Thank you, thank you.

I hope you’re not tired of restaurant food porn yet: I have yet another fine birthday meal to share with you! This one was at Candle 79, an all vegan and semi-raw eatery on the Upper East Side. As much as Pure holds a special place in my heart, Candle is my Mom’s vegan dining spot of choice, since it has both raw and cooked options for her. And I’m always happy to oblige: Candle has a cozy, yet upscale environment, a fresh and seasonal menu, and an exceptionally sweet wait staff.

Tonight’s dinner began with two spectacular appetizers. I got the live avocado tartare, which was inredible: I hate to admit that anything rivals my own guac, but this certainly does. It’s like guacamole, but slightly more textured and thicker. And, best of all, it’s onion-free!


My mom got the cauliflower soup, which was drizzled with some sort of chipotle oil to give it a nice flavor.


For entrees, Mom got the restaurant’s signature dish: the seitan piccata. I don’t need to say much about this masterful vegan creation, since so many bloggers before me have waxed poetic. But I will say that this is the ideal meal for anyone who is discovering vegan cuisine: it’s light, yet it has all of the heft of a traditional meat dinner. And though I don’t love meat analogs, it’s a great option for newbies (and the house made seitan is particularly good). Mom devoured the dish before I remembered to photo (as usual), but I’m borrowing a jpeg from my friend Erica:


After my feast last night, I was craving something simple and green. So I combined two salads: the spring market salad (with extra avo) and the rocket arugula salad. These were fresh and very seasonal, flecked with spring peas and roast asparagus. It was a delicious, green plate:


And there was also dessert! Mom and I split the amazing chocolate mousse cake. Like an idiot, though, I forgot to photo. I’m going to have to work on this. I don’t know how you food journalers do it!

It was a lovely meal – the perfect end to a great birthday weekend. I said it once today already, but I really can’t get over how lucky I am. And to demonstrate this, I leave you with a photo of me and my Mother. Of all the blessings in my life, having a Mom who is also my best friend, confidant, restaurant companion, number one fan, and source of inspiration, is the most dear to me.

And now, another work week begins. Night all 🙂


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  1. […] to the diet plan that you created to deal with panic attacks and don’t let cravings ruin it. Unhealthy eating would result to complications that will alter your body’s wellness […]

  2. Your posts are so intelligent, thoughtful and fun to read. I absolutely adore the photo of you and your mom & she’s lucky to have a daughter as bright as you, and I mean that in the way that you really seem to glow. Thanks for sharing as much as you do, I can always learn something from your posts and of course, Happy Belated Birthday Gena!

  3. happy belated birthday!!! i am loving all the food.. looks so delish..

    quick question, i wanted to try to make “cheese” but what is the best way to go about making it?

  4. Happy [belated] Birthday Gena!!! I see you had a great and delicious celebration with you mom. How precious is that and you both are adorable! Oh and I for one couldn’t tire of restaurant food porn or just plain ole food porn.

    Wishing you a fabulous week. 🙂

  5. Maybe I’m a little late to the birthday party over here, but here I go anyway: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GENA! I hope you had a fabulous day.

    PS You look like your mom! And you two are so cute together!

    PPS I dream of eating at Candle 79 some day… 😉

  6. Hi Darling…Happy Belated BDAYYYYYYY….sorry I wasn’t able to wish you a happy bday yesterday (I did not have access to the internet)…Glad you enjoyed Candle 79!!!!! Happy Bday and hope to see you soon. Have a great day!



  7. happy birthdayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

    youre hittin up all my faves lately. blossom, candle, yummmm!

    these place are exempt from the previous issues mentioned in your post and heather’s..normally, i agree with you though. i have control issues, so if im going to be dining and spending a ridic inflated fare on something i could make on my own (and mostly likely better and just how i like it), ill pass and stay home.

    glad you and your mama had a nice dinner date 🙂

    are you from nyc originally? does your mom live in the city too? so nice that you can spend time with her

  8. That avocado tartare looks scrumptious as does the rest of the food! Your mom looks like a sweetheart. That picture of the two of you really shows how close you guys are <3

  9. Wow, it looks like you got to commemorate your birthday in style! I might have picked the same restaurants and activities myself. Wait, actually I went to Candle Cafe for my birthday in April – haha, I just remembered that. But that was my first Candle experience and I wasn’t prepared for how cramped it was inside. Next time I will be sure to go to 79 for a special occasion. 🙂

    In other news, yeah your guac is fab! So fab that I’m having it again for lunch today – my batch might have been a little on the grande side… 😛

    Happy, happy (belated) birthday Gena!

  10. Happy Birthday Gena!

    I’m glad you and your mom were able to share such an amazing moment… may this year include many blessings and fun times.

    Candle 79 is next on my list of restaurants to try before I leave NYC. I had dinner at Zen Palate last night and loved it!

  11. glad you had such a beautiful birthday dinner! i love the pic of you and your madre 😀
    candle sounds AMAZING!
    enjoy your monday!

  12. I hope you had a wonderful birthday girl! By the looks of it you surely did! You and your mom are gorgeous and the food at candle 79 looks amazing!!! 🙂

  13. Great pics! I had the seitan piccata before my raw days..sooo good! 🙂 And filling!

    I loved the tartare, so fresh, I got it twice in a row! 🙂

    Great idea, putting 2 salads together, I never know which salad to get because they all sound so good!

    Glad you had a great bday!

    • L —

      One of my pet peeves with Candle is that the salads are sooooo tiny! Two handfuls of green are not enough for this raw foodist. So I always have to get two!


      • Funny thing is, the first time we went the salad we had was huge! We coud barely eat our entree! But everytime since, the salads have gotten smaller! Last time I had a stuffed avocado salad it has more quinoa then greens, it was good, but I wanted my greens!

        I am getting 2 salads next time!!


  14. Your mother is gorgeous! Now we know where you get it from. I’m so glad you had a wonderful birthday! The meal looks absolutely delicious.

  15. Happy Birthday!! I am a new reader to the blog, but I am from NYC as well and absolutely LOVE Candle 79. If you ever want a more casual place, like for lunch, you should also try Candle Cafe…SO delicious!

  16. It sounds like a wonderful evening was had! The food looks amazing, especially that first shot with the guacamole. A lovely end to great day for you, I imagine 🙂

    xo Em.

  17. I am so glad that you had a good birthday, Gena. You and your mom look so great together, and you guys look so much alike that it made me smile. 🙂

    I never get tired of the food porn. I also love it when you tell us about good raw restaurants. After you talk about a place, I like to go online and check out their menu because it gives me great ideas for dishes and food combinations that I can fix at home. Mmmm…that green salad looked really good. Ok, I have got to stop reading this site when I’m hungry.

    Take care and I’m so glad you have a good day. 🙂

    • Thanks Briana! Hopefully you’ll get to visit sometime soon and sample all these places yourself! I definitely hope to make a raw version of the soup my Mom had.

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