Franny's (295 Flatbush Avenue, frannysbrooklyn.com) is a Prospect Heights restaurant committed to environmental responsibility and sustainable agriculture. It gets its fingerling potatoes from Lucky Dog Farms (luckydogorganic.com), a 200-acre, certified organic farm in the Catskills valley owned and operated by Richard and Holley Giles.
Richard Giles got his first fingerling seed pieces—most potatoes are grown from "tubers," the bulbous bottom-portions of the stems—from nearby farmers, but many of his tubers have been saved from his own crop.
The tubers are usually planted anytime between the end of April and the end of May. Lucky Dog Farm planted this season's fingerlings on May 13th.
Fingerling potatoes usually take three to four weeks before they "put leaves up out of the ground," Mr. Giles says — but once they sprout they grow rapidly, particularly in warm weather. When the surrounding vine begins to die, it's a sign that the potatoes have reached maturity.
Harvest can begin as early as late August, but most of it is done over the subsequent two months; it's finished by mid-October. Fingerlings are significantly more difficult to harvest by machine than ordinary potatoes. At Lucky Dog, the ground is dug up by machine, and then seven or eight employees traverse the fields and gather the potatoes. By hand!
After harvesting, the potatoes are washed and then put onto a conveyor belt and sorted by hand. Lucky Dog can turn an order around in a day, but the potatoes are often stored unwashed and unsorted in the barn; they usually process them "on a rainy day" or to order. Lucky Dog also stores some potatoes over the winter.
Lucky Dog sends it fingerlings out with Angello's Distributors, which drives them down to New York City from their warehouse in Clermont, 15 miles ENE of Woodstock.
From Delivery to Dinner
When the potatoes get to Franny's, they're washed, says sous-chef John Adler. After that, they're usually served that evening or the next as Fried Fingerling Potatoes with Capers and Provolone Dolce.
If Franny's doesn't run through their full potato shipment on the first day, they are placed in plastic tubs under cloth towels in the restaurant's dry storage area.
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