The Hot Potato

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The potato is often referred to as “humble”, a support act rather than a star. But there’s something cooking in carbohydrate land, and the potato is climbing the ladder of gastro success, as chefs focus on the right kind of potato for each dish. For, like people, potatoes differ: some are smooth and waxy, others fluffy and floury. They also come in many colors, including red, like the Burgundy Highland Reds pictured here, and blue varieties believed to closely resemble their Andean forebears. Much of the new interest in potatoes is driven by farmers’ markets and experimentation by artisanal growers. There are now about 200 different types of potato available, and savvy diners are starting to understand the difference. Andrew Roche, executive chef of The St. Regis Washington, D.C., has noticed the emergence of potato connoisseurs in the past few years. “People enjoy the meal, then ask questions – and it’s about the potatoes, not the lamb or the sea bass. And if it’s a purple potato, it’s a novelty.”