What's in your cart, chef? This week, we ask Kris Tominaga, partner, with Brian Dunsmoor, in The Hart and the Hunter at the Palihotel.
Tominaga's smiling at a bag of small green peppers. "They're little Padrons from Fairview," he explains, making this variety of Spanish frying pepper sound more like a younger brother's derogatory nickname. "We serve them charred with chile flakes and crispy bread crumbs and a little bit of anchovy."
Fairview Gardens, located between a gas station and a library in downtown Goleta (just north of Santa Barbara), has long been known for their excellent carrots, tangerines and chard, but they've only recently started ventured into cultivating boutique and heirloom varieties. They're very proud of their small, intensely flavored, not-too-spicy Padron peppers, and say they should be in season for at least three more weeks.
At The Hart and the Hunter, they're described simply as Peppers, under the heading Sides. The dark green and charred-black peppers are flecked with toasted bread crumbs and shaved fennel. The anchovy is barely detectable, a delicate and slightly milky flavor that brings the char, the spice, the green pepper flavor and the crunchy, salty bread crumbs together smoothly. They're best eaten with the fingers, almost like popcorn.
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