‘Do you think you have the best spuds in West Kerry?’ the poster asks. Well then contact Angus for more details. The only requirements being that you have to have grown the potato yourself and it has to have been grown in one of the eligible parishes.
We learned of the Spud-off at our favorite local pub, Tigh TP, in Baile na nGall (Ballydavid) the night before the preliminary competition when we met three of the contestants, Tom, Jim, and Patrick. They explained that several local pubs would host the preliminary round and that the winners from each of the pubs would then face off next weekend at Tigh TP. This is the second year of the competition, the brain-child of one Angus Murphy. A good-will offering is taken up to benefit the local hospice.
We expected all three to be in the tasting at the pub the next day but when we arrived we learned that Jim and Patrick had been moved to other pubs because the field was so full. There were 11 contestants at Tigh TP.
The potatoes were cooked on-site. The only seasonings were salt, pepper. The judges, all with sophisticated spud-palates, took their job very seriously. No libations but lemon water are allowed until after the competition, which with 11 contestants, took well over an hour to complete. The judges tasted each entry with the panache of the finest sommelier, tasting only enough of each potato to experience all the nuances of flavor and texture, and appraising it’s general appearance, and an overall satisfaction score, then made careful notes and gave the entry a rating of one to ten on each element for a possible 40. As far as we know, nose was not a factor.
Once all were tasted the ratings were tabulated and amid much frivolity the winners were announced . . . most of the comments were in Gaelic so we didn’t understand the finer points being made, but we did understand that while there were a number of ties and it was very close, there was one clear winner, Tom, one of our friends from the night before.
The judges all agreed that his offering stood out from all the others.
After the competition, we were able to taste a few of the entries and can report that all were outstanding potatoes and ones we would be proud to serve from our kitchen any night.
Unfortunately, we will miss the final tasting as we’ll be gone north next weekend, but we are quite confident that all the spuds will be quite delicious and any one of them a deserving winner.