By Jordan Steffen
The Denver Post
No matter how they peeled it — or baked it — a new spud was a pleasant surprise at the Taste of Colorado this Labor Day weekend in downtown Denver.
Albert Bartlett, which has been growing one of the United Kingdom’s favorite potatoes for 60 years, premiered the Rooster potato in the United States this weekend. The potato was received well, as more than 60,000 potato wedges — that’s 5 tons of potatoes — were passed out during the four-day festival in Denver.
“It’s fantastic. We had to start somewhere, and it’s been outstanding,” said chief executive Colin Smith. “The product really speaks for itself.”
The Rooster potato, which is slightly smaller than a Russet potato and wrapped in a pink, thick skin, is drier than several other strains. The combination creates a fluffy, taste-packed spud that can be easily baked, fried or mashed into all kinds of favorites, said spokesman John Hicks.
Rooster potatoes will be available in Colorado at the end of October, Hicks said. But the processes of bringing this potato to the U.S. took more than four years.
Nearly five years ago, tiny potato plants were shipped from Europe to Canada. The young plants multiplied and began to mature as the company looked for a permanent home for the crop.
They found one in the San Luis Valley, where the cool nights and high altitude allow the potatoes to “take a breath” as they grow.
Kevin Payne and Darcy Swisher returned to the festival, which drew about 500,000 people, a second day just to snag another wedge, they said.
“They’re so good,” Swisher said Monday. “They’re not dry, and the taste is really unique.”
Daniel Asher, operations chef for Denver’s Root Down and Linger restaurants, has been experimenting with the potato for almost two weeks, he said. Some of its most surprising qualities are its versatility and forgiveness — even when making baked potato ice cream.
“It’s really one of the most perfect flavors,” Asher said.
In the midst of listing all the ways he has fried, diced, baked and mashed the new potato, Asher also realized his next test of the “bulletproof” potato: potato and cheddar scones.
Some final counts for taste of colorado
The 29th Taste of Colorado drew about 500,000 people during the four-day festival. Here are some fun “festimates” from the event.
Festival goers consumed:
– 22,000 ears of corn
– 8,800 turkey legs
– 1,200 pounds of cheddar cheese sauce
– 70,000 ribs
– 825,000 jelly beans
– 4,100 gallons of barbecue sauce
– 19,200 pounds of chicken
– 21,500 pickle slices
– 10,200 sausages
– 120,500 tomato slices
– 22,000 meatballs
– 8,500 tacos
Photo by Kathryn Scott Osler, The Denver Post