When farmer’s markets beckon with the most amazing produce, the key to cooking is simplicity. Simple ingredients and techniques that let the natural, fresh flavors create nirvana on your tongue!
Step 1: Take 1 butternut squash, peel it, de-seed it, chop it into small pieces and lay on a baking tray coated with cooking spray.
Step 2: Create a flavored oil with 2 tbsps olive oil, a few sprigs of oregano, a few springs of thyme, two cloves of crushed garlic, a tsp of salt and a tsp of crushed red pepper.
Step 3: Using a brush, cover each piece of butternut squash with the flavored oil, pouring any remaining oil over the top.
Step 4: Roast the oil covered squash in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes or till squash appears done.
This winter, I decided to visit one of my incredibly close friends from home who currently attends the University of Maryland. We decided to meet up at Gallery Place in Washington, DC, where the Capital Metro’s red line and green line intersect. We did not make any plans or reservations, that was never our style. This is the kind of person you meet up with and adventures simply happen. As we strolled around the chilly streets of downtown DC, we shared stories of college life and got nostalgic about the simplest things, from an amazing trip to Walt Disney World during our senior year to the coffee runs we would make on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis over the summer. It was then that we stumbled upon Pitango, a store that looked out-of-place amidst the sea of sports fans pouring out of the Verizon Center. It was relatively empty and had an “old meets new” Italian charm to it.
Little did we know we would spend an hour inside this small coffee and gelato shop, trying practically everything on the menu. The service was excellent, with baristas who came with stories to share and memories to make. The coffee was incredible, bold and rich, reminding me of similar drinks in Rome and Venice. The star of the show however, was the sipping hot chocolate, a delicacy I thought only existed in Eastern Europe. The concept was simple, thick, gooey, molten, bittersweet chocolate in a cup. There are not many adjectives needed to describe how delicious it tasted, especially when accompanied by an espresso shot to keep the conversation lively.
If you are ever in the downtown DC area, whether you are there for business, leisure, or catching up with an old friend as I was, I can’t recommend Pitango enough. Their ingredients are fresh, their servers are incredibly charming, and they provide a cozy backdrop on a cold wintry night.
Please do check them out here: http://pitangogelato.com/