I am graced with friends who put up with my dorkiness. Wednesday night, with a couple of friends over for dinner, I held a sweet potato tasting. Yup, not a wine tasting, but a sweet potato tasting. I learned several things at this tasting: 1) I am not very good at describing flavors, and 2) Tasting is more fun with friends.
|Red Wine Velvet at harvest|
|Violetta at harvest|
|Old Kentucky at harvest|
|Golden Sweet at harvest|
|Jen, my summer garden intern, holding a very naughty-looking Red Wine Velvet|
E played along in the way E will. You will see by his upcoming notes.
I roasted four very small sweet potatoes in their skins for the pre-dinner sweet potato tasting. After roasting, I cut them in quarters, sprinkled them with salt, and placed them in identical order on small plates with a pat of butter. I gave each person a card and we numbered the pieces by their placement on on the plates. I didn't tell the names of the varieties until we finished the tasting.
|At the top of the hour, Golden Sweet; at 3, Old Kentucky; at 4, Violetta; and at 9, Red Wine Velvet.|
The first sweet potato we tasted was Golden Sweet, a golden-skinned, yellow-fleshed potato. It was not very productive—one potato per plant, but it did have lovely, smooth skin and a nice rounded shape. Upon tasting it, Friend #1 wrote, "Butternut squash, banana, tea, sweet but not too sweet." Friend #2 wrote, "Nutty, something like the aftertaste of salami." I wrote, "Smooth, nutty, sweet, mild." E wrote, "Tater." Though we all liked Golden Sweet, it wasn't the favorite of any of us.
Red Wine Velvet was the third sweet potato we tasted. For me, each plant produces four or five large, orange-fleshed, maroon-skinned potatoes that are shaped like veiny organs. About it, Friend #1 wrote, "Mild, nutty." Friend #2 wrote, "Smoky, earthy." I wrote, "I can taste the beta carotenes! Awesome, moist, smooth texture." E wrote, "Orange tater." This potato wins in the texture category, and it is mighty-fine tasting as well.
And finally, Violetta was the last sweet potato of the tasting. This variety produces large, violet-skinned and creamy-fleshed potatoes, at least three per plant. This was Friend #1's favorite. She wrote, "Creamy, mild, best aftertaste." Friend #2 wrote, "Walnut." I wrote, "Sweetest of the whites, caramelly." E, who loved Violetta last year, must have gotten a spoiled end, because he wrote, "Tater hairs." Despite E's reaction, the rest of us ranked this high.
|The entire harvest this September|