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!"
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.