Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Spotlight: Sylvie of Thrifty DC Cook

You won't catch Sylvie without a smile.  Her happy demeanor makes her a joy to know.  Sylvie and I became acquainted from the DC Food Blogger Happy Hours and her blog is great.  Find out more below:

Tell us about your blog.
The blog started off as an idea to create a website that would be a resource for local DC cooks to find deals on ingredients. My parents consistently reminded my brother and I about the importance of being frugal so I wanted to incorporate that into the blog. And so Thrifty DC Cook was born. I would post supermarket sales and some recipes that included these sale items. Over the last year, I’ve found that the posts I have liked most were the ones that included good recipes that I cooked with the ingredients priced out. I am still all about finding a good deal but I am enjoying posting more of my cooking.

How did you get into blogging?
My friends really encouraged me to start blogging. I think they were just sick of me talking about food all the time. We all would go out to dinner and after we had eaten a full meal, I would start a conversation about beef and broccoli. Obviously, I needed an outlet for my food thoughts.

Favorite ingredient?
Fish Sauce. I grew up on Vietnamese food and even when my family cooked other types of cuisines, fish sauce was involved. I’m not even going to mention the random things I have added fish sauce to but it makes it taste so good. It’s like the Vietnamese ketchup…but not.

How would you describe DC Cuisine?
Good American Food But In Need of Quality Ethnic Food. I crave for more quality ethnic food in DC proper. The only real quality ethnic food I can find in DC is Ethiopian food. Otherwise, VA and MD have better everything else.

How long have you lived in DC and how did you end up here?
In August, I will have lived in DC for five years. I moved here from Southern California and did so for a changed of scenery. I love the city life. There are so many museums, events, restaurants…there just is so much to do here and I love having it all available to me.

Who are your culinary inspirations?
My aunties. These women can throw down when it comes to a good meal and they know how to put on a delightful dinner party. I hope to learn that art.

What is your favorite local restaurant and why?
The Tabard Inn is my favorite restaurant in DC. The restaurant is charming and they serve good food without being pompous. I’ve been there for dinners and brunches and the food is consistently good and people I go there with are always pleased. It’s my go-to restaurant when I want to treat someone to someplace nice.

What is your favorite Food Network Show?
Barefoot Contessa. Ina Garten has a classy way of cooking and entertaining. She is very clean in her prep work and her recipes are good. I’ve tried her 40 cloves of garlic chicken and her recipe for roast chicken and both turned out great. I find her show to be informative and soothing; I can sit back, learn, and relax.

Do you have a favorite cookbook?
Yes – Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen. She translates Vietnamese recipes well and she gives suggestions for alternatives to Vietnamese ingredients that most people won’t be able to find. I pull out her cookbook when I get homesick. It is a good introduction to Vietnamese cooking.

What are your most exciting challenges right now?
My most exciting challenge right now is bringing in more produce and meats from local farms into my cooking. Especially during the summer when I have so many farmers markets within walking distance, I don’t have any reason to go to the supermarket. I think there is a way to eat purely from farmers markets and stay within budget. My goal this summer is to have several “farmers market only” meals that I can post and price out.

Any recipes to share?
I’d like to suggest to anyone who ever wants to try spaghetti sauce Vietnamese style is to make the sauce as you normally would, then add a big dash of fish sauce and a tablespoon or two of Sriracha Sauce to the pot. Zaawow. It’s good.

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