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20 August 2011

Vitelotte Potato Salad with Blue Cheese, Pancetta & Tomatoes


The good news is, my wooden crate of violet potatoes is almost empty.  That means I am ending my series of violet potato recipes pretty soon.  Two more recipes lined up then I am totally done.  I will have them again this winter, when the French ones arrive.

After doing a number of dishes with these beauties, I have learned that they are not meant to be roasted in the oven.  No, absolutely not.  I grilled some salsiccie and potatoes, regular & violet, the other day. The regular potatoes came out good, as always and the big surprise was, the violet ones died along the way.  They were not edible.  They were unrecognizable.  They were awful.  What a disappointment.  I also tried potato soup that didn't do justice to these violet wonders.   The potato soup came out of mediocre quality, not bad but not great either.  Conclusively, they are perfect for making gnocchi al burro e salvia (butter & sage), and good with salads & mashed potato pancakes



When I mixed the tomatoes with the potatoes, I was thinking more of its visual effect.   I like beautifully composed dishes with vibrant natural colors mixed together.   Natural and healthy, those are the key ingredients to a good dish.  
I believe that enjoying food doesn't only involve our gustatory sense.  We also need to activate our sense of vision and olfaction.  You can also throw in your sense of audition for a deeper immersion to the degustation of the food.  Make those four senses work together when you sit down confronted by the food.  I do. 

This way of eating reminds me of a series of fiction books by Andrea Camilleri whose protaganist is an unorthodox police chief of a small Sicilian town, Inspector Salvo Montalbano.  They're simple crime stories but it's the author's descriptive words that transport you to his fictional world of this police inspector.  This inspector loves everything about Sicily and over everything, its gastronomy.  He has a peculiar way of being a solitary eater or if given no choice but to eat with company, he obliges them not to utter a single sound while he's eating.  He tunes out the unnecessary sounds around him and relates to his food one-on-one.

Not that it's easy for me to tune out the shrieking and whining when we try to have meals together as a family.  It is never easy because in reality, it is impossible.   If ever I do get these rare silent moments, I imagine myself in Inspector Montalbano's shoes. 



Vitelotte Potato Salad with Blue Cheese, Pancetta & Tomatoes


Ingredients:
Serves 4
  • 1 kilo vitelotte potatoes (or any potato), boiled, peeled & diced
  • 70 grams pancetta affumicata, diced
  • 50 grams blue cheese, crumbled (I used the German Bergader Edelpilz.)
  • 100 grams grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • parsley, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
Directions:
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. When it boils, add the potatoes. Cook for 15 - 20 minutes or until they are tender. Drain then let them cool.
  2. Toast the pancetta in a non-stick saucepan.  Don't put any oil.  Set aside.
  3. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.