Sunday, August 25, 2013

Farmers Market Potatoes


The humble potato is special when it comes from the Farmers Markets or a little mound in your back garden.  I love the really tiny ones that can only be gotten close to the source.  The first time I had such exquisite potatoes was at a dinner at one of those Vermont family houses with a name.  Not a ski house name like Trails End or Yodeler but a real architectural name. The house was built by a famous architect who had been part of a major shipping family and knew how to live on a grand scale hidden among the birch trees that dotted the property. 

In the interest of family privacy, I can tell you no more except about the potatoes. They came from my CSA portion for that week.   Each of us was bringing something to the dinner and the grand dame at the head of the table, the daughter of said architect and now a mature woman who knew her gardens and was a regular judge at the country's largest flower show in Philadelphia, scooped up a small bit of my simple potato salad and carried on to the more ornamental fare at the table. 

There were truly tiny potatoes.  None were larger than an acorn.  They took moments to boil and were served whole in their skins and a light dressing. A few larger ones were cut in half revealing a pale yellow interior. Their flavor was intense, what God had in mind when he made potatoes.

Halfway through dinner, the great lady who had earlier noted that potatoes tasted the same no matter the size, interrupted the conversation to search out the half empty bowl and asked for more potatoes.  Upon finding out they were from the organic farm that offered one of the state's first community supported agriculture programs to the southern Vermont area, she promptly signed up for a weekly delivery.  That is the power of the humble potato.  It can melt a gardening judge's heart.

When you get your hands on farm fresh potatoes, the key is to do almost nothing to them.  Boiled until just tender and stuffed into a grilled corn tortilla with some chorizo sausage like I once had in Oaxaca, Mexico or steamed then roasted in a small pool of olive oil in a 425˚F oven and lightly salted. Or, as we first had them, boiled and tossed in a light vinaigrette.