Alex Weiser's market tables are groaning under the weight of his summer harvests -- Gaia and Ogen melons, freshly dug torpedo onions, a small rainbow of eggplant including Caliope, Hansel and Gretl to name a few. He recently added just-cured Spanish garlics and French shallots, and then there are his ubiquitous potatoes, of which he has at least five varieties available at any given time (the German Butterballs are superb right now).
His customers have been trained to anticipate the uncommon at his stands (we're still impatiently waiting for his first salsify crop), so when he started piling up the oddly pedestrian jalepeños to sit alongside his tender Shisito and Padron peppers last week, we raised an eyebrow. Then he rolled out his brand new, flame throwing chili roaster.
Did we say pedestrian? After a few tumbles in the iron mesh barrel at 75,000 BTUs, the peppers were transformed, blistered and sweet, and piled high into paper cones with a little salt. Weiser went from farmer to chef with the flick of a lighter, serving up hot seasonal market tapas to a fast growing line of people who had forgotten that it was already over 100 degrees out.
Weiser will prep a bag of fresh roasted mixed peppers for you to-go or if you prefer, grab a mixed bag of your own. You can achieve similar, smokier results with a run-of-the-mill kettle charcoal grill, but that's hot work in peak SoCal sun. Both the Padrons and the Shisitos are a pale springy green, are thin-fleshed and pliable and achieve their best flavor from high heat and a little salt. Take a look at the stems to determine freshness -- they should still be flexible and green, not crunchy and brown.
You can find Weiser Family Farms at markets throughout the week all over Southern California, but this weekend you can find him locally at Santa Monica (Pico and Sunday), Pasadena, Long Beach, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Claremont, Hollywood and Mar Vista. Check our farmers market map for details.
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