By Taylor Butler
First, let me state that it was a pleasure to experience the Hatch Chile Fest at Central Market. From the outdoor grilling presentation, to various aisles, displays and tastings, Central Market has made it their goal to celebrate this phenomenal southern food holiday!
The Hatch Green Chile originated in Hatch Valley of New Mexico, a quick jump to the west from our beautiful Texas. The chiles have been grown to have a large following in the culinary community, as they offer a unique flavoring to any dish. From very mild to tear inducing, green chiles offer a wide range of heat intensity. This adds to their culinary appeal, as they can be added to various recipes and bring them to a new profound level of flavor.
Upon entrance you receive a map of the Hatch Festivities and products, making for a game-type shopping experience. After receiving over 125 tons of these peppers, it’s not a shock that they have a great selection of chile-infused items. Large painted green chiles hang from the ceiling, as many other signs designate the presence of some form of hatch chile within the product.
No chile lover will be left unhappy with the ready to eat products, as well as the necessary items for creating your own savory and spicy dish, are available throughout the store. Fantastic prepackaged products include fantastic the Salem Baking Company’s Hatch Pepper Artisan Crackers with Cheddar Cheese, which taste similar to a Cheez-It, but with a more full cheese flavor and a hatch chile bite! Another great hatch snack was the in-store Olive Oil Popcorn sprinkled with Chef Milton’s Smoked Atlantic Sea Salt with Genuine Green Hatch-Peppers. It offered a perfect balance of light flavor, with a punch of the chile and salt. RoRo’s Dinn-A-Rolls with Hatch Green Chiles and Cheese, a fluffy dinner roll infused with cheese and wonderous pepper, was another scrumptious bite we had the pleasure of tasting.
The jarred hatch items were one of the best of the selections available, my personal favorite being the Call Me Hatchradish. This Texas-made green chile horseradish manages to embody all of the necessities you have in a condiment. It offers the creaminess of a mayonnaise, the tart of a mustard, and the slight heat from the hatch chile. The perfect pairing for a sandwich, this sauce is a must for a true hatch fan. Another fantastic offering is the Austin Slow Burn Green Chile Jam, which was created by the founder of Chuy’s Tex-Mex Restaurant. A perfect companion to almost anything, the jelly is superbly sweet with a hint of spice.
Central Market itself offers a wide selection of hatch products that induce a knee-jerk mouthwatering response. Hatch stuffed chickens, quail, pork, as well as a stuffed hatch peppers. The prepared food section also boasts a plethora of tasty hatch foods including a necessary Hatch Chile Mac and Cheese, Hatch Pesto covered Salmon, and a variety of Hatch Quesadillas!
One of the best qualities of their offerings is that they don’t want to exclude the cooks and chefs of Austin, as they offer many ready-to-cook items like the Hatch Chile Pesto Cream Sauce nearly had me melting on the floor, with an elegant mix of garlic, cream, and the beloved pepper. This, as well as the Hatchradish, and Central Market store-roasted Hatch Chiles, are what a chef’s dreams are made of. The ability to toy with the natural flavors of the pepper in any form, whether it be hatch pancakes, meatloaf, or ice cream.
Other Central Market Hatch items worth mentioning:
- Hatch Chile Pineapple Gelato
- Hatch Chile Brownie
- Slow Roasted Hatch Chile Pepper Hummus
- Hatch Pepper Tortillas
- Hatch Chile Tortilla Chips
If you have not had the joy of experience the Central Market Hatch Fest, make sure you do as it ends on August 19th. They will be hosting Hatch Chile Events including a Dace Dewitt, the “Pope of Peppers”, sharing his authentic pepper recipes on Wednesday, August 13th at 6:30 pm. Be sure to send us your #HatchFest2014 pictures on twitter and Instagram! Many thanks to Central Market for their astounding display of our seasonal favorite vegetable, and be sure to check out their 20th Anniversary celebration that is right around the corner!