Thursday, 10 May 2007

Lady Sainsbury's Knobbly Bits

Let's be honest - they're not exactly the sexiest offering on the veg stall. Shaped like the sandworms of Dune, with pits, nodules and scabby bits, they don't exactly shout: "Eat Me!"

The green hue is a chopping board reflection, not a sign of imminent poisoning!

But I'm always one to try something new and when I came across some Anya potatoes in Sainsbury's the other day I didn't hesitate to take them home with me. Researching them on the web when I got home, I discovered why these potato were to be found on the shelves of Sainsbury's but I'd never seen them elsewhere. Anya is a hybrid of the knobbly Pink Fur Apple potato and the more traditional Desiree potato, first bred in 1995 near Dundee in Scotland by... the gardener of Lord (now Baron) Sainsbury! I dread to think how his employer's wife, the ballerina Anya Linden, must have felt when these tubers were named in her honour.

Despite the fact that I'd purchased these Norfolk-grown potatoes right at the end of their growing season, they were still excellent in flavour. Full-bodied, not too waxy and with a distinctive nutty flavour. No wonder Delia raves about them and they are reputedly on the menu at The Ivy. Anyas are recommended as a salad potato, but I also found them to be excellent mashed in their skins with a little butter, cream, Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper. I'll be looking out for the early harvest in summer.


Richard said...

I've had these a few times before - always from Sainsburys as far as I recall - and really enjoyed them. I like them par-boiled, split lengthways and sauteed in butter. They're half price in my local Sainsburys at the moment...

ros said...

I'm quite a big fan of these potatoes. I didn't realise they were named after Lady Sainsbury... how interesting.

I've only had these as salad potatoes but when they next come into season I'll try them mashed.

Trig said...

The only trouble with mashing them is that they are so small that the percentage of skin is uncomfortably large, if that makes sense. So it would be better to part peel them (scrub them or peel half of them or something). But the flavour is great.

Culinary Cowgirl said...

I love Anya's...being a Sainsbury's shopper, that explains why I've always found them. I use them for salads...and sometimes chopped into large chunks and fried (not bad).

Love the reference to the sandworms...made me laugh out loud.

Jeanne said...

I also grinned at the sandworms reference (the spice must flow etc etc) - but what I loved above all was the Pink Fur Apple potatoes. As served in the bars of Old Compton Street?? Or after performances of Mamma Mia? A LOT more evocative than Fir, don't you think? ;-)

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