Have you ever grown fruit in your backyard? Then you likely know the surprise of peering up at a hidden branch, a branch formerly obscured by a thicket of leaves, only to find several fresh pieces of succulent, pickable fruit.
You can think of Hatch green chile season in Southern California in the same manner, if you like. After all, the chile pepper is a fruit, hot though it may be, and it has a way of popping up in surprising places, much like fruit can so deliciously do.
El Rey Farms, that longtime SoCal purveyor of chile from Hatch, New Mexico, will host a number of roast dates in La Puente in August and early September, while Melissa's Produce just revealed its round-up of toasty, roasty chile dates around both Northern and Southern California.
What to do, where to go and what to see
The burners, those heat sources that make the chiles crackle and smell heavenly, fire up for the first time on Saturday, Aug. 5.
That's next week, as of this typing, chileheads. Are you excited? It's one of the most appetizing occasions on the local foodie calendar.
So what locations are roasting the ol' Big Jims on the Melissa's upcoming schedule? The parking lots at Pavilions Seal Beach, Gelson's Market in Pacific Palisades, Smart & Final in Tustin, and Bristol Farms in South Pasadena are all ready for the 2017 Hatch crop.
Each destination has its own roast date, so make sure you find out if your local store is cranking up the turning machine, the one chock-full of chile yumness, on the date you plan on stopping by to load up on the heat-delivering delicacy.
First out of the gate? It's the Pavilions in Newport Beach on Saturday, Aug. 5. Rounding it all out? Lazy Acres in Encinitas and Bristol Farms in Santa Monica on Saturday, Sept. 9.
That means you have a month-ish, though more like five weeks, to stock up on the capsaican-packed goodie after it has been properly roasted and bagged for your freezer.
And an update! If you shop at Ralph's, take note that several roasting dates are ahead beginning on Saturday, Aug. 5. Stop one on that date? Studio City and Tustin. The final stop on Saturday, Aug. 27? LA at 11727 Olympic Boulevard and San Juan Capistrano. For the full schedule, click here.
Perhaps, though, it won't even make it to your freezer, once you get it home and realize all of the chile-topped enchiladas you could be devouring, and chile-thick stews, and chile-laden chilaquiles...
Hatch chile season. It's the blissful, oh-so-hot bridge from summer to fall, food-wise, a bridge many a Southern Californian looks forward to crossing each year.