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February 13, 2019

New spud that's no dud to be featured during high school hoops week

Courtesy / Geaghan's Pub & Craft Brewery
Courtesy / Geaghan's Pub & Craft Brewery
Andrew, Pat, Larry, and Peter Geaghan, from left to right, of Geaghan's Pub and Geaghan Brothers Brewing Co. in Bangor. Their restaurant, located near the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, will feature dishes on its menu using the Caribou Russet potato during high school basketball tournament week, Feb. 15-23.

The Maine Potato Board is partnering with two Bangor restaurants during the high school basketball tournament week to market the Caribou Russet, a new potato variety developed at the University of Maine that hit a limited number of markets three years ago.

During the Feb. 15-23 basketball tournament week, Geaghan's Pub & Craft Brewery and Hops House 99 inside Hollywood Casino will be using Caribou Russet potatoes to create dishes for their customers. At Geaghan's, the new variety will be used in a variety of potato-based dishes and at Hops House 99 it will be used for hand-cut fries.

Both restaurants are located across Bangor's Main Street from the Cross Insurance Center, where Class B, C and D North basketball teams will be competing in the quarterfinals and semifinals during the week. Cross Insurance Center also serves the Caribou Russet at its own concession stands

"The popularity of the Caribou Russet has been strong with the retail consumer," said Don Flannery, executive director of the Maine Potato Board. "It's flavorful and is great for everything from baking to mashing to frying. We are excited to be partnering with Geaghan's and Hops House 99 to bring this potato to restaurant customers."

Wildly popular potato

Courtesy / Geaghan's Pub & Craft Brewery
Courtesy / Geaghan's Pub & Craft Brewery
The Caribou Russet potato, developed by the University of Maine, hit the market in 2016.

Developed by the University of Maine and licensed by the Maine Potato Board, the Caribou Russet is a cross between a Silverton Russet and Reeves Kingpin and is described as having "high yields, mid-season maturity and moderate common scab resistance," among other attributes. It's also described by its creators as having "good baked and mashed quality for fresh market consumption and is also expected to be useful for processing markets."

The new variety was developed at the University of Maine in the breeding program overseen by Gregory A. Porter, chairman of the university's Department of Plant, Soil and Environmental Sciences.

It hit store shelves with a limited supply in 2016.

A year later, Hannaford stores began stocking the new variety in its produce sections throughout Maine. This year, according to the Maine Potato Board, more Hannaford stores are carrying the Caribou Russet, as well as Stop & Shop stores, making it widely available throughout New England..

"Because this is a relatively new variety with high demand, the supply eventually runs out for the season," said Flannery. "Growers are planning for next season and more acreage is being devoted to it going forward. It's a tremendously popular potato and our growers are working hard to meet the consumer demands every year."

Versatile cooking potato

Courtesy / Geaghan's Pub & Craft Brewery
Courtesy / Geaghan's Pub & Craft Brewery
Shepherd's pie featuring the Caribou Russet potato.

Geaghan's Pub & Craft Brewery plans to use the Caribou Russet in potato-based dishes like Irish Nachos, mashed potatoes, Shepherd's Pie and potato-based stews. Hops House 99 will use the potatoes for its hand-cut fries, which accompany the variety of burgers and sandwiches on the menu.

Both restaurants plan to continue using the Caribou Russet until the supply runs out, which should be around mid-spring, according to a news release.

"We are excited to be able to share the experience with our guests, especially those that will be visiting during the tournaments, said Peter Geaghan, co-owner of Geaghan's Pub & Craft Brewery. "We have always felt it was important to serve Maine potatoes at our pub, however to serve a potato that was developed right here, at the University of Maine, is something really special."

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