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Ile De Re Potatoes
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Ile de Ré potatoes are small tubers, measuring up to seven centimeters in length, and have a round, oval, to oblong shape. The young potatoes are light golden to tan, sometimes speckled with brown spots, and have very thin and delicate skin, giving the surface a flaky appearance. Underneath the skin, the flesh is firm, fine-grained, and cream-colored to ivory with a semi-starchy consistency. Ile de Ré potatoes will vary in texture and flavor when cooked, depending on the variety, and range from soft and sweet to slightly firmer with a savory, nutty, and mineral-forward taste.
Ile de Ré potatoes are available in the spring through early summer.
Ile de Ré potatoes, botanically classified as Solanum tuberosum, are rare, spring tubers that are grown on a small island along the Atlantic Coast of France. There are five different varieties of potatoes generally sold under the Ile de Ré name, and each variety contains subtle flavor and texture variations. The most popular varieties are Charlotte and Alcmaria, favored for their sweet taste, and other varieties include Starlette, Amandine, and Leontine. Ile de Ré potatoes are one of the only tubers in France to receive an Appellation d’Origine Controlee or AOC, which is a certification that protects the geographical location, soil-type, and unique cultivation techniques used on the island to produce the tubers. The tubers are considered to be culinary treasures of the island and have become an exclusive ingredient, only available locally for a very limited season.
Ile de Ré potatoes are an excellent source of fiber, which is a nutrient that can help stimulate and regulate the digestive system. The tubers also contain a high amount of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that can strengthen the immune system, act as an anti-inflammatory, and boost collagen production within the skin.
Ile de Ré potatoes have a unique, sweet and savory flavor that is best showcased in simple preparations such as steaming, browning, and boiling. The thin skin does not need to be removed before cooking, and the tubers have a mild flavor that can be utilized in a wide variety of dishes. On the island, the small potatoes are primarily steamed or boiled and served with salted butter to accentuate the tuber’s marine flavors. They can also be folded into a mixture of salt, eggs, and seaweed and baked. This mixture becomes a hard-shelled crust around the potato that can be cracked open and served at the table. Ile de Ré potatoes are often paired with fresh seafood and any in-season spring vegetables that can be found on the island. Beyond boiling and steaming, the potatoes can be thinly sliced and cooked into risotto or folded into gnocchi. They are also used to make a local vodka on the island known as Rétha la Blanche, which is a favorite cocktail served with local seafood. Ile de Ré potatoes pair well with aromatics such as chives and garlic, herbs such as cilantro, thyme, and parsley, vegetables such as asparagus, carrots, and peas, seafood such as lobster, cuttlefish, mussels, and oysters, white wine, and coarse sea salt. Once purchased, the young potatoes should be consumed immediately for the best quality and flavor.
Ile de Ré potatoes are one of the three main commodities produced on Ile de Ré along with wine and sea salt. The small French island is only thirty kilometers long and five kilometers wide and consists of ten towns. Within these towns, there are strict cultivation regulations for the famous potatoes due to their AOC protected status, and approximately 20 to 30 farmers tend to 150 acres of land to grow the seasonal tuber. Ile de Ré potatoes have to measure under seven centimeters in length, and the production is capped to obtain the best quality and flavor. They also need to be grown in a sandy, chalky soil and be planted in a sunny, sea breeze filled location to develop their signature, marine flavor. Despite the strict regulations, Ile de Ré residents have retained their love for the potatoes through an annual tradition of cycling across the island to visit the site where the first Ile de Ré potato was harvested. This weekend event primarily occurs in May and also celebrates the earliest harvests, which are considered to be the most prized potatoes with the best flavor. During the festivities, local restaurants center their menus around the potato while friends and family gather together for picnics and dinner parties.
Ile de Ré potatoes are native to the Ile de Ré, which is a small island off the coast of the city of La Rochelle in Southwestern France. The potatoes have been cultivated on the island since the 18th century and began to be extensively developed in the 19th century after the majority of the local vineyards were destroyed due to The Great French Wine Blight. Ile de Ré potatoes became regionally known after World War II and were recognized for their strict cultivation standards, being harvested, packed, and shipped daily to ensure the best flavor. Today Ile de Ré potatoes are only found for a very short season and are primarily sold at local markets on the island or shipped to La Rochelle and sold in specialty supermarkets.
Recipes that include Ile De Re Potatoes. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Ile de Re Potato||Ile de Re Potatoes and Charente Maritime's Oysters Risotto|
|Chablis Wines||Crispy Oysters Dressed In Black With Saffron Potatoes From Ile De Re|