Brandon Hernández 8 a.m., Dec. 20
Spud’n Shipwreck at Wonderbread
Bus crisis. The danged thing was viciously on time, and I wasn’t. If there’s one thing I hate more than being late it’s being early. Now I’ve got half an hour and a gut to fill.
This is at 12th and Imperial. And that’s dangerous. Because just a sprint across the Petco parking lot is, well, Mission Brewery. 1441 L Street (at the corner of 14th Street), home of Dark Seas Russian Imperial Stout and Shipwrecked Double IPA.
So, hey, five minutes’ sprint, 25 minutes staring into a glass darkly.
Only thing is, when I’ve woven my way over (there’s a game on) I get stopped at the entrance. Not by a heavy. By a giant spud in a red tent.
Okay, a big picture of a giant baked potato stuffed with about everything you could imagine.
And a sign: “Kumpir…Idaho Potato with a Euro-Turkish Influence.”
Well, now. Baked potatoes. My Achilles Heel. Specially if they have really, really tough skins. To do with our daddy baking them in fire embers on camping trips when we were kids. Crackling skin! Now that I think about it, I remember Ian Pike went to a kumpir tent on Adams Avenue once. But that was Mr. Potato. This is kumpir – and I think that’s the Turkish word for stuffed baked potatoes, kinda street food back there in Istanbul – by Filiz Elcim Agirman.
So I know this is going to lose me another five minutes, but I join the line. Gal behind the counter (her name’s Elcim. “It means ‘Flower Bouquet’ in Turkish”) is basting away at the inside flesh of a big spud she’s split down the middle. “This softens it up,” she tells the two gals ahead of me, Ashley, and her friend Janette. She’s mixing in butter, cheese, salt pepper of course, then she starts loading it up with olives, mushrooms, jalapeños, corn, marinated red cabbage, wow, beet root, and Russian salad, which looks like a kinda “potatoish” in itself. Think they get some bacon in there too.
“I’ll have what they’re having ,” I say. And two minuites of hard work later, I get this whopping potato in a carboard boat. Last thing she squirts on is spicy yogurt sauce.
This is Ashley with her kumpir.
Elcim says this is really common street food in Istanbul. “And when you load it with veggies like these, it’s actually very healthy,” she says.
Good enough for me. I grab the boat and haul inside to Mission Brewery’s big factory space with its vats and long bar, and order $1 sampler glasses of each of my two fave dark beers. It’s okay to eat the spud here, the guy says.
And what a perfect 15 minutes. The potato has nice, thick (though not totally crisp) skin and plenty of great flavor.
Yes, it’s a race back to 12th and Imp. But what a great spud break.
Google Kumpirsd.com to track where they’re gonna be.