I have no idea what they are called in Finnish, but the latkes you see in the pan look an awful lot like what I often found on my dinner plate.
My dear departed mother was the unacknowledged inventor of TV dinners...long before there was TV. She was a diva of black iron frying pans. What did she fry? Don't ask.
She was also the frugal gourmet who invented lime jello made with left over carrot juice. I was a healthy kid, but very, very thin. Our dog Rex weighed more than I did. If she was still with us, my mother would solve our national obesity problem in a hurry. No doubt about it.
I digress. This coming Monday is the third annual Latke Festival here in Brooklyn. Check it out. It should be fun. Before you go, read about the potato ride from Long Island. I can well remember as a kid when L.I. was covered with potato farms and ducks instead of people and cars. No offense Long Gilanders, but I vote for bringing back the potatoes and the ducks...and the fresh corn...and the soft-shelled steamer clams. Those were the days my friends.
Oops, I almost forgot. Two of my favorite SIP (sub-irrigated planter) boosters, Cathy Erway and Rachael Wharton along with Fuggedaboutit Marty Markowitz and others will be passing judgment on the latkes.
Yesterday morning, we picked up 250 pounds of potatoes at Foster Farm in Sagaponack and drove them across Long Island to the southern tip of Manhattan. These spuds–Norwis potatoes, to be exact, a flavorful, round white variety favored for chipmaking and frying–will star as the main ingredients in the potato pancakes served at the third annual Latke Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Monday. (Tickets to the festival are going fast, so grab yours here.)
Part of this fall’s harvest, the potatoes were hand-graded by farmer and Edible-contributor Marilee Foster, and packed into the colorful bags with the Tiger Spuds logo and "Grown on Long Island" stamp. A couple hours after leaving the farm, they sat on the Spring Street loading dock of Great Performances, where they were received by Kevin Harney, who coordinates the dizzying delivery and logistics schedule for this New York caterer. Along with garlic and onions (from S&SO Produce Farms in Goshen, NY, via the Union Square Greenmarket), chicken eggs (from Tello Green Farms in Red Hook, NY) and all-purpose flour from Cayuga Pure Organics (in Ithaca, NY, via the Union Square Greenmarket), the potatoes will be divvied up and delivered to the participating chefs as well as the homecook entrant to use in this scrumptious competition where attendees (and a panel of food VIP judges) will taste through two floors of potato pancakes on their way to crowning a champion.
On the drive in, the car had a bit of that sweet, wet smell of Bridgehampton loam that yields such good tubers. And with our seasonal eating sensibility re-invigorated, we looked forward to eating potatoes at the event next week, as well as in the coming weeks and months. Like onions and cabbage, potatoes are one of those things that our region’s farmers still offer up even in the dead of winter. So, we hope you'll join us on Monday, and start next week off with a taste of Long Island soil. (Buy your ticket here.)