Fire Up the Roasters, It's Hatch Chile Season at Central Market

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Hatch is the word - or for at least until August 20. Central Market is hosting its 18th annual Hatch Chile Festival and on Thursday, August 8 the specialty grocery store kicked off the celebration of all things hatch chile by firing up the roasters for the first time.

Outside the entrance of the produce section, chefs were lined up at several booths serving up their drinks and dishes using the hot and spicy peppers.

While the grocery store is filled with endless samples of products made with hatch chile peppers, the good stuff was outside the store. If the giant roaster of green chile peppers wasn't enough to make guests stop by and try some samples of mild or hot chile peppers, the unique concoctions of drinks and dishes were.

Central Market offered Hatch chile peppers for sale, as well as jarred Hatch chile salsas (mild and hot), and even Hatch chile guacamole. But the best part was the delicious (and spicy) samples of food and drinks. The Hatch chile tortilla chips paired with the spicy Hatch chile bean dip was a wonderful start to the Hatch chile sampling, but it called for something cool and refreshing to drink. That's where the Hatch lemonade and Hatch Wine-A-Ritas come into play.

The Hatch lemonade tasted like regular lemonade upon the first sip, but once you swallowed the sweet, tart and cool drink, you were hit with a little Hatch chile zip; a bit unexpected but so enjoyable. While the Hatch lemonade was refreshingly delicious, the Hatch Wine-A-Rita was surprisingly wonderful.

Sweet white wine with the spicy Hatch chile peppers was the perfect combination of spicy and sweet; who knew margarita flavors and Hatch chiles would be a match made in heaven?

Of course after enjoying a fajita made with none other than Hatch tortillas, fajita beef and more Hatch chile peppers, indigestion or heartburn was a huge possibility, so Central Market had an aloe vera juice/coconut water cocktail on hand. It was much appreciated.

Throughout the next two weeks, Central Market will host a variety of cooking classes focusing on the spicy green chile peppers, including "Chiles! Traditional & Contemporary" on Saturday, August 10 where Chef Kathy Tauber will show how she roasts and uses chiles to make a green chile sauce for New Mexican Flat Cheese Enchiladas, chiles rellenos and many more Hatch chile dishes. If you're looking for interesting ways to include Hatch chiles your food, head on over to the "Hatch-Tastic" cooking class on Wednesday, August 14 to make green chile biscuits with jalapeno cheese and even green chile crème brulee. Each of these classes cost $60.

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