Even if you don't live in New Mexico, you're perhaps aware that it's Hatch chile season. Hatch chiles are grown in Hatch, New Mexico, in the Mesilla Valley, just north of Las Cruces. They're similar to Anaheim chiles, to which they're related, and they're only in season for a few months in late summer and early fall, which would be right now.

Thanks to the folks at Melissa's Produce, the Los Angeles-based company that is the largest distributor of specialty produce in the United States, you don't have to cross state lines to get the chiles (or have friends send them to you). For the next month or so, Melissa's is supplying Bristol Farms stores with crates of them, both the hot and mild varieties. Of course, this assumes that you're not booked to attend this year's Hatch Chile Festival over Labor Day weekend, and already have the back of the car cleared for the return trip.

Melissa's has been distributing Hatch chiles nationwide for the last 8 years, but they only started bringing the chiles to LA last year. And, for a few days in the coming weeks, Bristol Farms is holding chile roastings. Public chile roastings are a community activity in New Mexico during chile season, and though you can find them in farmers markets here on occasion, they're not as common as you'd think (or hope).

Of course, you can just roast your chiles yourself, either over a grill, under a broiler, or over a gas flame. Steam the chiles after they're roasted, either in a paper bag or a bowl covered with plastic wrap, then pull off the charred bits (don't rinse them off). Some people like to remove the seeds too, although you needn't. Then you can do anything with them you like. My favorite: grill corn tortillas, then fold up a roasted chile and a bit of goat cheese inside, and cook until the cheese has softened. Great with a bowlful of salsa verde. And maybe some more chiles.

Bristol Farms chile roastings: August 28th & 29th, Manhattan Beach & Valencia Bristol Farms stores; roasting from 4:00 p.m.– 9:00 p.m. September 5th & 6th, South Pasadena & Newport Beach Bristol Farms stores; 10:00 a.m.– 4:00 p.m.

LA Weekly