Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Spotlight: Rivka of Not Derby Pie

Rivka and I first met at a Food Blogger dinner with Food Buzz.  She brought an amazing camera with her to dinner at Central and I could tell she was an awesome photographer!
Tell us about your blog:
The goal of Not Derby Pie is to prove that there's no sense in having kitchen fright. So many people are afraid to experiment, afraid to improvise, afraid to even step foot in the kitchen.  The recipes I make are often just loose adaptations of ones I've seen or read elsewhere, and improvisation is what makes cooking as fun for me as it is.  Do I suffer the occasional dud? Of course. But that's when I learn the most. In writing the blog, I'm trying to communicate to my readers that the space between each of us and making a really good meal is much smaller than it may seem.

How did you get into blogging?
I had just moved to DC, I had a boring job that left me with hours of free time each day, and I started to get into food blogs. I was reading them like a maniac, for hours at a time.  One day, it clicked: if they could do it, why couldn’t I?  I started the food blog about an hour later, taught myself enough html and css to build the website slowly over the next 6 months, and the rest is delicious history.
Photo by Emily Clack

Favorite ingredient?
Butter.  The good stuff, from the guy at the farmers’ market. What does butter not improve?

How would you describe DC Cuisine?
…a work in progress.  There are some memorable restaurants in this city, no doubt – and some fantastic bars, like the Passenger and Room 11 – but we still can’t match New York, San Francisco, or even Chicago for the variety and quality of affordable, authentic ethnic cuisine.  Unlike in those cities, you need a car to get to most of the good ethnic food in the area. I specifically have my fingers crossed that someone will open a really good taqueria or pho place inside DC proper.

What is your favorite blog post and why?
I’m especially proud of two posts: the first is an essay I wrote shortly after my grandfather passed away. Grandpa was a food lover, and over the years, I’ve realized that while my love of cooking comes from my mom, my love of eating is definitely from him. I have many fond memories of dining out with my grandfather, and that post really captures the essence of his eating life as I saw it. 

The other post I love to re-read is the one I wrote shortly after my fiancée and I became engaged. It was such a happy and exciting time (…it still is!) and the celebratory meal we had was really fun to write about. I had been concerned about weaving together the story of our engagement with the write-up of the meal, but the two actually came together quite organically, and I was really proud to post the final product on Not Derby Pie.

How long have you lived in DC and how did you end up here?
Believe it or not, I was born at GW – I’m a local. Raised in Maryland, I went to New York for school, spent a couple years in the Middle East, and came right back to DC, where I’ve been ever since.  I’m pretty sure I’ll never leave this city.  The currency in New York is money, of which I have little; the currency in DC is political capital, of which I have even less; still, I’d rather have no political capital in DC than have no money in New York. Wouldn’t you?

Who are your culinary inspirations?
Certainly my mother, who is as creative a cook as they come. Alice Waters, who helped cultivate my love of simple dishes that start with perfect ingredients. Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, the trailblazing women behind the young website Food52, which has inspired hundreds of home cooks to get creative in the kitchen and turn to each other for support. Food52 is the best thing that’s happened to food media in a long time.

What is your favorite local restaurant and why?
The best meal I’ve had in DC was at Komi. It unfolded like a great story, and ended with a hauntingly complex glass of Tokaji. Sushi Taro is also a lovely place to mark a special occasion. For cheaper thrills, Room 11 is the kind of place where you can get tipsy over small plates and talk to the guy on the stoll next to you.

Do you have a favorite cookbook?
I love The Zuni Café Cookbook. Judy Rogers’s food is intensely flavorful, and her tutorials are sincere and impeccably thorough. The recipe for roast chicken with bread salad is worth the price of the book alone. For dessert, I turn most often to Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert. I’ve never made an Alice Medrich recipe that wasn’t absolutely perfect, and I love that Pure Dessert strays from the traditional chocolate-chip cookies and red-velvet cupcakes. Instead, it focuses on desserts that highlight the flavors of grains, seeds, fruits, and—of course—chocolate. I make her olive-oil pound cake at least once a month.

What are your most exciting challenges right now?
For the past three years, my blog had been almost exclusively a recipe blog, and frankly, I’ve been afraid to deviate from that pattern. I’m just now getting to the point where I’m ready to dip my toe in other waters, but figuring out where, when, and how is quite the challenge.

Any recipes to share?
Here’s a great corn soup that’s ideal for any season: it’s a Thai-inspired soup with pepper, coconut milk, and curry, but for all that big game, it’s actually very mellow. It can be served hot or cold; recipe here.

No comments: