Alex Weiser keeps his finger on the pulse of his winter crop

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Alex Weiser brings his fingerling potatoes down from Tehachapi. Photo by Gillian Ferguson/KCRW

Chef Chuy Cervantes of Damian joins correspondent Gillian Ferguson at the Santa Monica Farmers Market to shop for potatoes. "One thing we know to be true about the potato and Mexican cuisine is that it goes perfectly with masa," he says. That might be tacos, sopes, or in the case of Damian, huaraches (the Spanish word for "sandal.") Cervantes uses Alex Weiser's potatoes to make a garlic puree that he spreads over a thick-cut, oval tortilla then tops with octopus tossed with artichokes and pickled onions and nasturtium. 

Alex Weiser says his farm in Tehachapi currently "looks like Alaska," with feet of snow that will recharge the ground with water. "Potatoes like cool but not cold weather," he says. He generally plants tubers from May through July and they come up in September and October, but Southern California's microclimates and various elevations allow for year-round availability.