New York, the 90’s and salad dressing

When I worked at The Gap (a million years ago), I frequently travelled  to New York to assist on photo shoots. Just a few years out of college, it was such an exhilarating and exciting time in my life — I was absolutely fearless in exploring the city. When I was on the company expense account, I stayed in nice hotels, cabbed everywhere and spent a $75/day per diem for food. Sadly, after a long day of steaming khaki pants, babysitting models and shuttling cappuccino orders I rarely had the desire to do more than order dinner in and fall asleep in front of the television. All to do it again in a few hours.

On personal trips, it was a very different experience. I was basically broke-ass, staying on the couch of a high-school friend who had moved there. But…it was SO much more fun. I remember going to Wigstock in Tompkins Square park (when it was still a place you would not go after dark), searching for the perfect vintage Levi’s 501s at Antique Boutique, staring in the marvelous windows at Barneys and Bergdorfs, and buying my Doc Martins at discount on W. 8th. While it wasn’t unusual to see celebrities and models going about their business, one memory stands out of seeing Ed Lover dancing at Wetlands (for some reason I thought that was oddly hilarious). At that time, I could still drink well enough to keep up with my friend (who, as a guy, should have had a much higher tolerance than me), as we would flit from bar to bar, going more underground as it got later and later. Ah, to be that young and spirited again.

Aaaanyway…we used to frequent a place called Dojo’s in the East Village. It was just downstairs from his roachy apartment on St. Marks, and they had healthy food for crazy cheap. One of my favorite things was their Carrot Ginger dressing — a bright/tangy/sweet thick sauce that we’d pour on salads, dip things in, and basically lick from the bowl. That stuff was amazing.

Just today, I was at Trader Joes, and got a prepackaged salad that had a very similar dressing, sparking memories of the original, which I haven’t had since my last visit to Dojo’s in the 90s. And now I can’t stop thinking about it. Then I look at the ingredients on the package and realize there isn’t any reason why I can’t make a jar (or a gallon) of this at home. A little more googling™ and next thing I know Gwyneth Paltow is serving up a recipe that looks pretty much spot on. Her version comes via GOOP, where she exhuberantly exclaims: “This dressing is the jam!” Oh Gwynnie!

(I will share the recipe here, in case you have a strong aversion to her or her website in general. I totally understand and I was right there with you, until she kind of won me over when she sang with Huey Lewis in Duets. I even bought her new cookbook — she’s harmless.)

SALAD WITH CARROT AND GINGER DRESSING

For dressing:

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sweet white miso
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seed oil
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 2 tablespoons water

Pulse the carrot, shallot and ginger in a blender until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides, add the miso, vinegar and sesame seed oil and whiz together. While the blender is going, slowly drizzle in the grapeseed oil and the water.

Combine the lettuce, onion and avocado in a bowl, drizzle with plenty of dressing and serve.

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