[UPDATED: DATES FOR THIS WEEKEND] At the Market (Soon): Hatch Chiles!

[UPDATED Aug. 1] See the latest updates to the list at the bottom of this post.

I'd never had a Hatch chile until I moved to California and married a girl whose family used to live in New Mexico. Now I can't get enough of them. Chile verde, stuffed chiles, hot sauce, rajas con crema, stewed with potatoes and ground beef…

I've got a lot of company. Southern Californians go crazy for the long
chiles, causing lines and occasionally fistfights in lines at the
temporary roasting stations set up around the Southland. They're only
available three or four weeks a year, and that time is swiftly bearing
down on us.

First, if you're you're planning actually to go to Hatch
this year, the California Department of Food and Agriculture wants you
to know that your fresh Hatch chiles are welcome in California. CDFA
spokesman Jay Van Rein says that spicy peppers from Hatch are
exempt from the restriction on bringing fresh produce into California.
You don't need a permit to import them, but the process will go more
easily if you have a receipt showing that they actually came from Hatch,
particularly for large quantities. They will be inspected at the
agricultural stations on the freeways to make sure they're what you say
they are and to make sure they're free of soil and disease.

If you're not into a twelve-hour drive to eastern New Mexico, some
grocery stores will be importing the chiles and roasting them on-site in
the traditional gas-fired drum roaster. Northgate is conducting a serious Hatch fest this year; Frieda's Produce is coordinating the Ralphs roasts and Melissa's Produce is coordinating those at Bristol Farms. Roasting always starts early in the morning; lines
usually start forming around 6. A standard sack of chile is 30 pounds, though some stores have sold by the pound or had smaller, 10-pound sacks available in the past. Price generally is $30-$40 per sack and includes roasting.

Bring extra trash bags if you're driving more than a mile or so, because as they cool, they exude liquid, and while it smells good at first, it wears off quickly.

We've listed those places within a reasonable driving distance of Weekly World Headquarters in Costa Mesa below; we'll update this post if we hear from anyone else.
If you hear of a Hatch chile roast in the area, please post a comment,
or click my name above to send an e-mail to me and our mero-mero editero.

Saturday, September 8
Bristol Farms, 810 Avocado Ave., Newport Beach, (949) 760-6514

Sunday, September 9
Bristol Farms, 810 Avocado Ave., Newport Beach, (949) 760-6514

H/T to Alfonso from Northgate, loyal reader Jill, and Cindy from Frieda's for the low-down on the chow-downs.

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