|Name: Olga Massov
Name of blog: Sassy Radish
Location: Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn
Year blog founded: 2005
What was the inspiration for the name of your blog?
What is your all-time favorite recipe from your blog?
Wow, that’s a hard one. That’s like picking a favorite child. There are a few that I really like quite a bit. My merguez burgers that I was obsessing over until I found Melissa Clark’s recipe in the New York Times; the veal ricotta meatballs from Marco Canora (if you haven’t had those, they’re celestial!); there’s the honey-bourbon caramel peach pie; and the Thai red curry with root vegetables.
What is the first meal you ever cooked?
I started cooking when I was fairly young, so it’s hard to remember the very first meal. But one of the first things I would bake was Russian pies with my mom – she would give me scraps of dough and I’d make this Russian folk character, Kolobok, from the dough. I’d make eyes and a mouth, and give him a nose, and then I’d sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar. One day I got “creative” and put black peppercorns as eyes. Well, that was a really, um, interesting baked good! In retrospect, it must have tasted really good, but to a 5-year old’s palate, it wasn’t a winning combination.
If you had to blog about one ingredient every day for a year, what food it be?
A whole year? That’s tough. I had to think a long time about this. I think I’d blog about lemons. I find that they are so versatile. You do so much with them – you can slice them thinly and bake a fish stuffed with them. You can put them into a milk-braised chicken, you can make the avgolemono soup, you can use the juice in a salad dressing, make tarts and sorbets, preserve them with salt, squeeze lemonade or bake lemon-butter cookies. David Lebovitz once said that there are chocolate people and there are lemon people. And while I love chocolate and have to have some every day, I think I lean ever-so-slightly towards lemon.
I will never eat …
Wow, “never” is such a strong word. I want to say licorice or anise, but I’ve had things very faintly flavored with it and liked it. I tend to stay away from tuna and swordfish – just not a fan of those, so I guess I won’t eat those? In general, I’m pretty open to trying new things, even if they gross me out – if I still don’t like it, I won’t eat it. Also, while I love raw oysters, I don’t eat cooked ones – I just don’t like the taste. I think it’s rather odd.
What is your favorite restaurant and what do you order there?
I don’t have a favorite restaurant, but rather favorite restaurants – but they’re similar in their approach and consistency and the mood they create. Also, I’m not really a critic so my thoughts here are, well, just of a person who is hungry and likes to eat. I shy away from larger, louder places and favor those that are cozy and smaller. Braeburn in the West Village is one my favorite places to eat – Brian Bistrong, who’s a chef there, just turns out really delicious dishes – last time I was there with my boyfriend, we tried this creamless trumpet mushroom soup that was poured over a raw Wellfleet oyster – it was absolutely incredible. I love Hearth too (and Terroir!) – I’ve liked everything I tried there, and I still wax poetic about those meatballs and the pickled mackerel. Gramercy Tavern is the kind of place that’s another gem. The culture of that place, the quality of ingredients – all amazing. I’ve been a longtime fan of Savoy, Prune, The Grocery, Applewood and Blue Hill, of course. I think if you go to all the places I named, you will see a common thread. There’s definitely a theme. Also, I’m currently obsessed with bahn mi sandwiches, particularly the Sloppy Bao from Baoguette on Christopher Street.
What other blogs, food or otherwise, do you read regularly?
I read so many! 101 Cookbooks, In Jennie’s Kitchen, Smitten Kitchen, The Wednesday Chef, Orangette, Canelle et Vanille, Alinea At Home, David Lebovitz, Savory Sweet Life, Gluten-Free Girl, A Sweet Spoonful, Sweet Amandine, Food 52 and Simply Recipes are my regular blog reads, among many. I also love Melissa Clark’s blog and her column at the New York Times. Design Sponge, Cup of Jo, and Oh Joy – are such amazing design blogs. You wind up with a pretty big reading list because you meet people and then you start following their writing and cooking and before you know it, you could spend all day reading and making yourself hungry!
When you’re not blogging about food or cooking, what other activities do you do?
I’m a runner (or was one not so long ago, and need to get back!). I love to read, and an evening curled up with a book is my idea of heaven. I like to walk around the city and find new things I haven’t yet noticed, or new things that have appeared, and take pictures. I love seeing friends and family. In the summer, [my boyfriend] Andrew and I were big into going to Prospect Park and having a picnic and just being outside. I think next summer we’ll try to get outdoors more – maybe go camping or hiking and try to do some more traveling.
Is there a food you used to hate, but now love?
Yes! Fennel. I used to loathe it, but I actually quite like it shaved thinly in salads, especially in the winter when our food starts looking all kinds of shades of brown. I like to pair it with some arugula and sliced apple and toss it with a light vinaigrette.
What is your current food fix?
Currently, it’s banh mi sandwiches. I could eat them every day. In fact, as I type this, I’m sort of craving one. Maybe I’ll take a walk to our local bahn mi place, Hanco’s, and get a sandwich. They are incredibly good.