Well, one can’t really call them chips – these little bits of heaven were in fact crushed, crisp-on-the-outside-creamy-on-the-inside roasted potatoes with (follow me closely here)…roast garlic slivers and rosemary. Paradise in a bowl. The fact that they were roast potatoes rather than chips gave them the air of being healthy; as I said to my dining companion, between mouthfuls, “Potatoes are vegetables, aren’t they? Must be nutrients in them somewhere”. To further the health argument, rosemary is a plant, and garlic also comes out of the ground, so all good.
We made guesses as to how the kitchen could have achieved potato nirvana…parboiling them, then crushing before roasting, were they roasted in duck fat or oil, sprinkled with fairy dust, and so on. After the meal, we inquired of our waitress whether there might be any kitchen tips forthcoming in order to fully appreciate the depth of this experience. We were informed that yes, the spuds were boiled first, then lightly crushed, then roasted with olive oil, along with the garlic bits and rosemary. Upon further enquiry we also gleaned that the spuds were roasted at a high temperature, around 200, to get them perfectly crispy without drying out. As we neglected to ascertain what sort of potatoes they were, we now have the perfect excuse to return for further investigation.
It is also entirely possible that in explaining how they were cooked, the restaurant omitted to mention certain secret ingredients and techniques; after all they’d quite like us to come back, rather than making it at home. I think, even if I could recreate it, I’d still dine at the restaurant instead – one might feel a tad piggy roasting up a bowl of potatoes for home consumption, especially if one has a tendency to make more than one should safely consume…
A friend of mine and I once deconstructed and reconstructed a dish in Sydney, a certain potato gnocchi dish we wanted to recreate, with roast sweet potato, and mustard fruits, among other things. We had to visit the restaurant a multitude of times, ordering the same meal, and then peering into our bowls with forks prodding everything to work out what the exact ingredient list was, and how it might have been cooked. The kitchen at this particular restaurant was less forthcoming than the place with the divine potatoes, so subterfuge was required. Also a certain amount of wine was consumed to go along with these menu deconstructing sessions, which made for a pleasant time all round. There’s nothing like the feeling of achievement you can get when you combine amateur sleuthing with amateur chef-ing. I’m pleased to say that we did recreate the gnocchi dish, in fact we could say, with a modest blush or two, that we may have surpassed it.
Back to the Wellington spuds. I think these roasted ones I’m talking about are up there with the Arbitraguer chips – a different kind of potato heaven. So, now that you are dribbling slightly in anticipation, I shall tell you where to find them…the Capitol Dining Room and Bar, next to the Embassy Theatre on Kent Terrace, in Wellington New Zealand. The Embassy Theatre is a cinema, so you can eat potatoes, then watch a film, then eat more potatoes, then talk about the film, or don’t bother about the films and just have a lovely dining experience, including the spuds.