The Sweet Potato Edition
Happy Friday, friends.
And happy Labor Day Weekend!
Prepare for the heat. It’s looking like a scorcher. Lakes and streams are calling. The High Country beckons. And the summer swelter invites us to bag the oven, skip the stove and head outside to fire up the grill. For that, we have lots to offer. Whole eggplant grilled until charred all over, and then used to make baba ganoush. Sliced squash slathered in olive oil, kissed with zatar and latticed with grill marks. Onions and peppers blackened and incorporated into salsa. And of course, burgers and rib-eye, sausage and long-cooked pork shoulder, lamb chops and chicken thighs and Alaskan salmon.
Another option? Grilled sweet potato. We’ve been cultivating the tuber for years, and are just harvesting it now. Head to our Boulder County Farmers Market booths in Boulder and Longmont on Saturday, or to the Farm Store at 4975 Jay Road, to snag some glorious local and organic sweet potatoes.
You also could join us at Bramble & Hare on Monday, when we showcase this vegetable for our Harvest Celebration Dirt Dinner.
One correction. Last week, we mistakenly referred to our summer beans as Phaseolus coccineus. This was incorrect. That genus/species is the scarlet runner bean (which we do grow!). The correct summer bean designation is Phaseolus vulgaris. Thank you, astute reader Stephanie, for drawing this to our attention!
Enjoy the holiday weekend!
September 4 Harvest Celebration Dirt Dinner: Sweet Potatoes
Since the bean mix-up revolved around Latin names, let’s head straight to the right identification for sweet potato: Ipomoea batatas. Perhaps the more interesting bit is the family to which sweet potatoes belong: Convolvulaceae. That bindweed to which you devote far too many hours removing from your garden? Same family. And just as the dreaded bindweed is a herbaceous perennial vine, so is its distant cousin the sweet potato. The regular ol’ potato, meanwhile, comes from a completely different family: Solanaceae.
We are familiar with the pies and fries made from sweet potato tubers, but the greens are lovely as well (and rarely seen for sale).
Sweet potatoes enjoy an especially rich international history. They are native to either Central or South America, with evidence of domesticated sweet potatoes in Central America 5,000 years ago. Scholars believe they probably emerged somewhere between Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and the mouth of the Orinoco River in Venezuela.
In many countries, including Argentina, Puerto Rico and Brazil, the sweet potato is called batata. But in other countries, such as Mexico, Chile and all of Central America, they are called camote, which comes from the Nahuatl word for them: camotli.
People in Polynesia have been growing sweet potatoes since long before Europeans began their age of exploration. Radiocarbon dating reveals its presence in the Cook Islands from between 1210 and 1400 CE. How did sweet potatoes get there? One theory posits that Polynesians had traveled to South America by boat, and brought back clippings of the plant, which over time spread to Easter Island, Hawaii and New Zealand. It wasn’t until Christopher Columbus’ 1492 expedition that Europeans tasted sweet potatoes. And in the 1600s, the Portugese brought sweet potatoes to Japan, where they are prized today, along with in Korea.
It took us several seasons of experimentation to finally grow sweet potatoes, which are highly sensitive to frost and also require a long growing season—never an ideal combination in the Front Range. The inspiration came from Jill’s dad, who grew up in an Italian family in Baltimore and remembered coming home from school to nosh on roasted baby sweet potatoes. Eric wondered if conditions at Black Cat Organic Farm could at least have enough runway to grow baby sweet potatoes, and so he gave it a whirl. Eventually, it worked. And Black Cat Organic Farm sweet potatoes often grow beyond the baby stage.
They are treasures! Sweet potatoes offer enviable textures, deep and rich flavor, and much in the way of culinary diversity. We are eager to welcome you to our dining room, send the tubers out on stage, and let them break out into multiple arias. One request: When you make reservations for Monday’s celebration, please let us know about any dietary preferences.
Meanwhile, the hospitality team is eager to once again invite guests to order simply “white” or “red” wines, all of which have been curated by our outstanding sommelier Logan to complement our evening’s dinner, which arrive wrapped in burlap. Diners who participate in the engaging challenge then receive the sort of taste, aroma, color and texture scorecards that sommeliers use to understand wine, and to take part in blind tastings. From there, guests have fun exploring the wines and guessing at their varietals, countries of origin and more.
At each of our dinners, the sommelier game has captured the imaginations of guests who signed up; we love watching them having fun tasting and talking about the wine, and then researching the wines once they learned their identity.
Not interested in using the sommelier’s grid during dinner? No problem. You can order the bottles of wine that Logan selected to pair with the meal, or you can work with a server to discover something you love on the wine list, or turn to cocktails and other beverages. Either way, we cannot wait to welcome you into our dining room in downtown Boulder and share four courses of culinary excellence with you.
The celebration, on Monday, September 4 in our convivial dining room, costs $87, plus tax, gratuity and adult beverages. When making a reservation, it is important to include dietary restrictions, so we can best accommodate; we rely mostly on the fruits of our fields for our dishes, and while accommodating dietary restrictions is something we do with pleasure, it is especially helpful in our case to have a little bit of advance notice.
We look forward to seeing you.
Warm Regards, Eric, Jill, and the Bramble Team
Farmers Markets in Boulder and Longmont
At our booths this week, which are open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Boulder and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Longmont, look for:
- Sweet Potatoes (NEW)
- Summer beans
- Squash blossoms
- Sunflower bouquets
- Tat soi
- Mizuna, green and purple
- Romaine lettuce
- Salad mix
- Roving wool from our sheep
- Cuts of lamb
Our cozy, happy little nook of Boulder, our Farm Store, is here for you Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 4975 Jay Road. The Farm Store normally offers the same items for sale at the Farmers Market booth, plus much more. The Farm Store, which got started during miserable 2020 to offer Boulderites a safe place to pick up vegetables and provisions, continues to evolve. We love it, and anticipate continuing to build it into an important part of the region’s culinary foundations.
Please visit us at the Farm Store for:
- Sweet potatoes (NEW)
- Summer beans
- Squash blossoms
- Sunflower bouquets
- Tat soi
- Green mustard
- Salad mix
- Chicken eggs
- Duck eggs
- Guinea eggs
Black Cat Grains and flours and legumes
- Sourdough bread
- Cuts of Black Cat heritage lamb
- Cuts of Black Cat Organic Farm pork
- Dog food
Black Cat Farm Provisions
- Onion soup
- Roasted tomato sauce with basil and garlic
- Basque piperade
- Yellow Tomato Sauce with French thyme
- Tomato shallot fonduto
- Salsa amarilla con rajas
- Spicy harissa
- Big B’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
- Frog Hollow Farmstead Apple Butter
- Annie Bee’s Hand-Poured Beeswax Candles
- Havenly Baked Gluten-Free Bread
- Boulder Broth
- Bjorn’s Colorado Honey and doggie treats
- Boulder Valley Honey
- Bolder Chips tortilla chips
- Pueblo Seed Grains Co. cookies, cereals, grits and more
- Heartbeets Veggie Burgers and doggie treats
- Spark + Honey Granola
- Green tahini spreads
- Mountain Girl Pickles
- Project Umami Tempeh and bacon
- Silver Canyon Coffee
- Vegan charcuterie from Greece
- Italian risotto rice
- Humble Suds cleaning products
- Growing Organic probiotic soaps
- BeeOch beard and body care products
- Purple Fence Farm salves, beard oils
- Vital You toner mists, soaps
- Bjorn’s face wash and sunscreen