The Daily Spud

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Spud Sunday: Colour Me Purple

Purple spuds may be common enough currency in some quarters, but not where I live. So, yes, while on my travels here in the States, I am prone to getting excited by sights like this at Seattle’s Pike Place market:

Pike Place Potatoes

Pike Place Spuds

I am also prone to having palpitations induced by sights like this causa made with purple mash (and, frankly, at this stage in our relationship, my excitement at meeting and eating purple spuds should not surprise any of you).

Causa with purple mash and tuna at La Mar, San Francisco

Causa with purple mash and tuna at La Mar, San Francisco

My encounter with the causa, a Peruvian dish traditionally consisting of layered potato and seafood, came about through the happy circumstance of being in San Francisco and of meeting the lovely Oyster Food & Culture for lunch at La Mar.

This Peruvian restaurant is known for its ceviche, tasty fishy morsels, marinated raw in citrus juice and chillies, so we dove into the ceviche tasting but, Peru being the ancestral home of the potato ‘n’ all, I felt duty bound to try one of their star spudded causas. And not just any causa but, being a purple spud innocent, the causa bearing that colour was the one that had my name on it. I’m not sure what I was building myself up for, because purple potatoes actually don’t have what I suppose I would think of as a purple taste. Probably not even necessarily the tastiest of spuds, but they do remain defiantly purple, nonetheless, and a bit of a star attraction on the plate. The causa was a worthy first time purple experience.

Ceviche tasting, La Mar style

Ceviche tasting, La Mar style

As for the rest of the lunch at La Mar, we were agreed that the ceviche chifa – with Mahi Mahi in what tasted like a Vietnamese-style sauce, with ginger, peanuts and pickled veg, stole the show. The pisco sours were very fine too. And the dulce de leche with port meringue. Not to mention the good company. A very fine way to spend 3 hours on a Thursday afternoon I thought.

As I left the restaurant and wandered through the nearby Ferry Building marketplace, I glanced longingly once more at the exotic vegetables for sale. Concerned as I already was about getting my Japanese knives past customs and security, I didn’t want to risk bringing spuds, purple or otherwise, back to Ireland as well. Besides, that’s probably in the same category as bringing coals to Newcastle and people might think me ever so slightly strange.

19 Comments

  1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the purple potato (at least in my adult cooking life)…I’ll have to keep an eye out for it in the markets!

  2. I saw some purple potatoes yesterday at the farmer’s market. I was about to buy some, but then I realized I didn’t have enough $ left in my weekly budget to buy ’em. Maybe next week.

    I’ll have to keep La Mar in mind, the next I’m in the Bay area.

  3. I actually bought purple potatoes for the first time at the farmer’s market last month. They taste really good- I was pleasantly surprised.

  4. Your pictures are stunning – so much better than mine, although I have to say I like my picture of dessert with you in the background focusing on your shot. :0 Your pictures just jump – they’re almost like action shots.

    I agree I expected something, more I guess from the purple potato as if to back up all that color, do not know what I was expecting but something. It certainly created a beautiful dish.

    I had a wonderful time, and as I stated, I am so happy to had the opportunity to make more than a virtual connection. Safe travels back to Ireland!

  5. Daily Spud

    Monday, May 25, 2009 at 7:01 am

    Mindy: I’ve no idea how available or otherwise they would be in your corner of Europe but you never know!

    jenn: La Mar is certainly worth a look

    Angry Brit: my next mission will be to cook some purple spuds – there’s one place in Dublin where I may be able to get them, so I’ll just have to try that out sometime

    OysterCulture: yes, I noticed me in the background of your dessert shot – hard to avoid, really :) Hopefully we’ll be able to do lunch again sometime!

  6. I’ve seen Fallon and Byrne stock purple spuds, also those French blue potatoes.

  7. Yesterday I made Red, White & Blue Potato Salad. I used White Fingerlings, Red Potatoes, and Blue Potatoes. The blue potatoes were more purplish, but they turned rather blueish when boiled. We have a great produce resource that has a bunch of different types- you’d love it!

  8. Ooooh! Everything looks delicious! The various ceviches are awesome but I would have to go with the purple potato causa. I don’t know how large these portions were but I’d probably be wildly indelicate and just pop the whole thing in my mouth. What a wonderful cap to your West Coast adventures!

  9. i tried purple potatoes for the first time a few weeks ago and really loved them and their beautiful color!! all the food looks so yummy!! that purple mash with tuna looks amazing!

  10. Wonderful meal! The dish with purple potato looks excellent. I’ve had purple fingerlings before and liked them a lot.

  11. I have seen those purple potatoes at our Multicultural market in Brussels. I haven’t cooked with them! But I will try them soon! Your pictures looks beautiful as allways!
    Everything looks so tasty! Yum Yum Yum!

  12. Mmm, love purple potatoes. My bro grew them one year and they were spectacular. On an unrelated note … I made potato salad yesterday … naturally, I thought of you! ;)

  13. I’ve always wanted to try purple spuds! I’ve seen them a few times but for some reason I never buy them?! Well next time I will!

  14. This is so much more than the Peruvian places I told you about that I have been to in Los Angeles. Quite chic! It was such an honor meeting you!!! GREG

  15. Even if they weren’t the best ever potatoes, they do indeed get points for purpleness. And that must count for something. Right? :)

    Because I’m me, though, I’m intrigued by the dulce de leche w/port meringue….

  16. It sounds like you enjoyed your west coast trip! I haven’t been to La Mar, but will certainly check it out on my next visit home. Wow that purple mash is so purple! The purple potato mash I’ve made always ends up this grayish sort of color…

  17. Daily Spud

    Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 2:52 am

    Oisin: yep, you’re the second person to mention F&B – I should pay more attention next time I’m in there, goodness knows I’m a frequent enough visitor to the place!

    Lori: that indeed sounds like I’d love it! I’m going to have to have a go at a multi-coloured potato dish sometime for sure.

    Tangled Noodle: yes, a wonderful cap to the adventures indeed :) – and I would have happily forgiven any wild indelicacy in your part if you had managed to be there!

    Heather: it’s just such a deep, impressive purple, I will have to try cooking with them myself

    Natasha: yes, a lovely meal, I’m always happy to meet potatoes in new guises

    Sophie: thanks and I will be interested to see what you make if you get those purple spuds!

    Diva: aw, shucks :)

    Mary Bakes: good stuff – it clearly took me a while to get around to trying them too :)

    greg: and an honour to meet you too! this is definitely a chic place – maybe you can try it next time you’re in SF

    Jenni: oh absolutely, definite bonus points for purpleness – and the dulce de leche with port meringue was *very* good, thick and kindof butterscotch-y and yum

    gastroanthropologist: I had a great trip! I am now definitely intrigued to try my hand at purple mash to see if I have the same colour experience…

  18. I love discovering new things when traveling especially food things. That is the best part! My husband just returned from a trip to Peru where he had ceviche for the first time and really enjoyed it. A beautiful recap of your meal!

  19. Now after reading this yesterday I saw them in the market…a blog made purple gnocci with them once, and that seemed really creative…

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