Robert Barnum called the other day to tell me about his preps for the upcoming Potato Pandemonium dinner. He has two refrigerators bulging with potatoes, both the one in the kitchen and the one on the front porch. Not everybody has a frig on the front porch brimming with spuds, so this I had to see for myself. Yup, the porch frig held at least four onion sacks stuffed with spuds, and the kitchen frig held another two full sacks.
The kitchen table held an overflow of potatoes in several buckets, which were sorted by shape and color — dark skinned that look purplish-blue-black inside, red skinned that are red inside, golden ones, and delicate fingerling potatoes. Not sure how many pounds that adds up to, but it looks like it should be enough for 30 guests. Robert explained the spuds were gleaned from a nearby field. There’s nothing wrong with the tubers; they’re perfectly good to eat, and would otherwise be plowed under.
Robert mentioned he browsed through his extensive collection of cook books for inspiration, but the actual dish will be his version. “All these recipes come out of my head,” he explained. “Some of these have never been done, or done the way I plan to do it.” He offered a test batch of Potato Salad with Carambola Relish, which had a tropical and tangy dressing, no typical mayo here. Bubbling in a pot of oil were Multicolored Chips, and sure enough some potatoes are really red inside, looked like small chioggia beets. Ultimately each dish will be interpreted with his signature flair — tropical ingredients straight from his grove, and food cooked over a wood fired grill.
If you’ve never been out to Possum Trot Tropical Fruit Nursery, it’s a unique corner of Redland, not to be missed. Intrigued? Here’s the link to register for the Pandemonium.