If you're the sort of person who annually packs the car and heads to New Mexico, driving endless ribbons of highways, through the wind farms and burnt deserts of California and Arizona, living on roadside enchiladas and anticipation, to pilgrimage to the town of Hatch, New Mexico, and its justly famous chile festival, you can get a chile fix closer to home this month. Think of it as something useful to do while you get your car tuned up for the trip east.
Frieda's Specialty Produce, the OC-based company that sources exotic fruits and specialty vegetables, will be supplying local Ralphs stores with truckloads of the New Mexico-grown chiles this month. Not only can you buy the chiles, but they'll roast them for you too. For those of us who don't have giant roasters in our driveways.
Not this coming Saturday, but on the following three, six stores in L.A. and O.C. counties will be tumble roasting chiles outside the stores. And not just one or two measly chiles, but big sacks of them. Which should tide you over until you can get in your car over Labor Day weekend. Just think how much more pleasant the 760 mile or so trip will be if you pack a few of Deborah Madison's goat cheese and chile soft tacos. (They're really good with corn tortillas and salsa verde.)
The chile roasting begins at 10 a.m. and goes until 4 p.m., or until the store runs out of chiles. You can buy 10 and 30 pound bags of chiles inside the store on the day of the event — sorry, not in smaller quantities. So maybe go with a friend and split a bag. Here's a YouTube video of what Hatch chiles being roasted looks like, if you're not sure. It's about what you'd expect. And Frieda's gives instructions for how to roast them yourself if you'd rather do this in the privacy in your own home (or driveway).
Saturday, August 13:
Ralphs – Costa Mesa, 380 E. 17th St. (949) 645-8283.
Ralphs – La Canada, 521 W. Foothill Blvd. (818) 790-0584.
Saturday, August 20:
Ralphs – Los Angeles, 11727 Olympic Blvd., (310) 473-5238.
Ralphs – Huntington Beach, 5241 Warner Ave. (714) 377-0024.
Saturday, August 27:
Ralphs – Tustin, 13321 Jamboree Rd. (714) 544-0491.
Ralphs – Pasadena, 3601 E. Foothill Blvd. Pasadena (626) 351-6572.