Really, he had us at Laker Baker. But Alex Weiser apparently isn't content to simply wow us with new potatoes. This week he's decided to wow us with an old potato. An heirloom, actually, from the late 1700's called the Ozette, a.k.a. the Makah Ozette, after the Pacific Northwest tribe that probably obtained it from Spanish explorers coming up from Peru. Weiser had previously tried to grow and sell the Ozette about five years ago, but good seed potatoes were hard to come by.
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In 2008, the Makah Ozette became an official Slow Food Presidium project, which in a nutshell means it is being actively protected and promoted to ensure that this hard-to-find heirloom potato has a viable future. Only a few California farmers grow it, and lucky us, Weiser Family Farms intends to do so for the rest of the year.
It's a small, nubby fingerling that stands out among its smoother cousins at the Weiser tables. But its distinction doesn't end there. The Ozette is earthy and nutty, creamy and rich, and almost reminiscent of fragrant cooked beans. We pan-fried wedges and then roasted them with superb results. Weiser says they're planning plantings for fall and winter, and should be available, supply willing, for the rest of the year.