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Potato power: ‘Latke & Vodka’ event features pancakes, spirits made from tuber

A potato pancake might not sound like much, but add some premium toppings and vodkas to the mix and you have something special.

“Latke & Vodka,” presented by the Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque, will offer a twist on traditional Jewish latke with samplings of vodkas.

“Latke is a very classic Jewish food, and it’s something that you find in many cultural food traditions, a potato pancake of some kind. It’s sort of the Jewish hash brown or something like that,” said David J. Simon, executive director of the JCC. “Latkes are most often served around the time of the Hanukkah holiday because they’re fried in oil, and that relates to the story of Hanukkah.”

Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro executive chef Chris Pope will be preparing four types of latke: a classic potato latke, a sweet potato latke, a winter squash and leek latke, and a sunchoke and sun-dried tomato latke. Pope also will prepare 20 gourmet toppings.

“The toppings alone are going to be outrageous,” Simon said. “You will be able to taste ginger-pumpkin applesauce, smoked salmon and black caviar, black truffle-mascarpone crème fraîche. … (Pope has) got lined up a port wine poached pear topping, and in a homage to our New Mexico heritage here, he’s going to be doing some chipotle caremelized onions. He’s going to be doing a red chile-braised beef topping and others.”

You can get your potato in a solid form and some potato in a liquid form as part of a sampling of vodkas offered as part of the event.

“Of course, not all of the vodkas are native of potato; many vodkas are distilled from grain, but some classic potato vodkas are there,” Simon said. “We’ll have 12 vodkas for tasting. People will be able to taste six of the 12 varieties of vodkas from around the world. We’re going to have Grey Goose and Ultimat vodka, which is a Patrón Spirits Co. vodka. We’re going to have a vodka called Milk Money, which is actually a vodka company that is founded and owned by a Roswell dairy farmer, and it’s actually made in New Zealand. I’m just betting not many people have tasted this vodka.”

Other vodkas offered at the event are 42 Below Vodka from New Zealand, Effen from Holland, Ao from Japan, High West from Utah, Beluga from Russia, Woody Creek from Colorado, Chopin from Poland, Crop Organic from Minnesota, and Ocean Organic from Hawaii.

“There is going to be a lot going on,” Simon said. “It’s going to be great foods and vodkas brought to the people of Albuquerque. People are going to love to find their favorite and get a chance to try some things that aren’t often found in Albuquerque.”