A love sonnet to the potato

Where you can find Charlottesville’s favorite and finest tuber

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Potatoes aren’t just for late night cravings and cheat days.

Few foods can compare to the potato’s versatility of form and universal appeal. Its mild flavor and common partnership with butter, salt and oil make it one of the most irresistible vegetables. It’s rare to meet a potato dish that does not inspire a positive reaction. While meditating on my love for potatoes in all forms, I recalled a reading from my history of English course — Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How Do I Love Thee?” 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnet reflects on love as a powerful and conquering force — much like the seemingly magnetic attraction between one’s hand and that bag of BBQ Lay’s on the coffee table that clouds the judgment of even the healthiest eaters.

Boylan Heights knows fries. There’s nothing like a post-game day rendezvous with a group of friends, a plate of curly fries and a little honey mustard. Another Charlottesville fries staple, Riverside Lunch, is located just about three miles from the University towards Pantops. Riverside’s fries are McDonald’s-esque in form but far superior in flavor. Shake on a bit of the special Old Bay-esque seasoning and relax into the life of a real Charlottesville native.  

But potatoes aren’t just for late night cravings and cheat days — they can be elegant and formal as well. Some of the best Charlottesville dining advice I’ve ever received was a hack for The Local in Belmont. Order the truffled mushroom ragout and ask for a substitution of gnocchi for the fettuccine. The pillowy, cream-coated gnocchi melts in your mouth while the savory mushrooms bring substance and a rich, earthy flavor to the dish.

While you’re in Belmont, don’t forget to jump right around the corner and visit Mas Tapas. Its papas bravas will have you singing. The delicately roasted potatoes are covered in fragrant herbs, grey sea salt and are complemented with an indulgent garlic aioli sauce. The potatoes are fluffy, tender and mouthwateringly salty.   

Potatoes are also a great and easy dish to prepare at home. For a cheap and delicious side dish or snack, try roasting russet potato with my mom’s favorite recipe. 

Cook time: One hour and 30 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 russet potato

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Rosemary 

1. To begin, heat your oven to 375 degrees. 

2. Take a whole russet potato and pierce the skin to allow the steam generated by cooking to escape as the potato bakes. 

3. Place your forked potato on a baking sheet and rub it with olive oil and add salt.

4. Roast the potato for one hour or until it is soft enough to pierce easily — again — with a fork. 

5. Take out your potato and allow it to cool for 10-15 minutes on the counter. 

6. Slice the cooled potato into one inch cubes, rub with more olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary.

7. Place the sliced potato back into your 375 degrees oven and roast for 15-20 minutes or until golden and slightly crispy. 

Potatoes can be there for you in the best and worst of times. Potatoes can be your support on a first date or after a breakup, your midnight snack or the perfect complement to your eggs and toast. You truly cannot go wrong with a well-cooked potato.   

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