Los Angeles

SoCal Spicy: Stores Ready to Roast Chiles

Can you smell the goodness from here? Find it at Bristol Farms, Gelson's...

"Red or green?" is a question one often hears while dining out in New Mexico, and the answer isn't always easy.

That's why "Christmas" is often the go-to response: The famished diner would like a little bit of green chile on their enchiladas, and a little bit of red, is what they mean, because choosing one or the other is just too darn difficult.

Many Southern Californians already have their red or green preference picked out, though we're not asked the question nearly as often as people residing in the Land of Enchantment. Still, we can take comfort in the fact that August has a way of returning each year, rather predictably, and September, too, and local grocery stores around Los Angeles and Orange County will be lining up the chile roasters, as is tradition.

For late summer is prime chile-roasting season, both around Hatch, New Mexico, the acclaimed capital of the peppers, and all the places that the famous peppers eventually go by Melissa's Produce truck.

Those destinations in 2016 include a bevy of Gelson's Markets around Southern California, and several Bristol Farms, and Pavilions, too. The LA-based Melissa's Produce has become a stalwart in delivering chile peppers to area markets over the last several years.

Delivering and roasting, the second part being an essential part to bring out that quintessential flavor and scent.

As is tradition with chile roasting, you'll want to look up the exact date the grocery store'll have the Melissa's roaster out front, because it isn't an every-single-weekend kind of thing. There are a few weekdays to ponder, as well, depending on the locale, and a few restaurants also roasting for customers (look to Zapien's Salsa Grill in Pico Riviera).

Don't dally, though, while you dream of Christmas-ing your next chile relleno; dates for roasting truly fire up around the middle of August, with some major SoCal chile action happening over Labor Day Weekend and into early September.

And if you find yourself in NorCal, several spots, including a few Mollie Stones, will also be breaking out the beautiful fall's-comin' pepper goodness.

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