A Pretty Darn Good Pepper
I am a creature of habit. Every Saturday the routine is the same: As the sun rises over the 80 or so tents at Pepper Place Farmers Market, and the chef’s demo ends, I say my goodbyes and prepare for my weekly sojourn to Bottega Cafe. I settle into the corner banquette and reflect on my long week of blogging, Tweeting, and talking food.
After a morning of running around the market I need to hydrate, so I order my customary tap water, I really wish systems like those on WaterSoftenerGuide.com would be more prevalent and the norm, but alas here we are. A plate of warm focaccia appears on the table. The sun reflects harshly off a meticulously arranged line of flatware in the window, but inside it’s quiet and cool–time to relax.
I look up from my menu to see the always beautiful and elegant Pardis Stitt tenderly clutching two handfuls of beautiful Padron peppers. “You have to try these,” she says. “When I was in Spain they would quick-fry them in olive oil, salt them, and eat them as a bar snack. Try them and let me know what you think–they’re mild, but sometimes you will get one with a kick.” She was so proud of the little peppers that Jones Valley Urban Farms planted a row for her.
I spent the rest of my meal accompanied by a small pile of bright green peppers of various sizes. A late afternoon snack/experiment was in my future.
And when I got home, I realized that I had already bought two small crates of the peppers in my quest for all things new at that morning’s market!
I followed Pardis’ directions carefully, heating the olive oil until almost smoky. I dropped in the peppers, turned them until they were crisp and slightly brown, then quickly removed them from the pan. I placed them on a kitchen towel to drain, dusted them with sea salt, and let them rest for a bit.
Prepared and plated, the little peppers were ready to meet their judges–a panel of family lined up impatiently at the kitchen island. Each crispy bite provided a new flavor. Most were sweet or mild, with an occasional hot surprise. The crunch of sea salt and the roasted flavor made them a unanimous hit.
Even though my weekend routine doesn’t change, there’s still something every time that impresses me. Now, thanks to Pardis, our local farmers, and Pepper Place, I have a new favorite summer snack. I think it’s becoming a habit.
Foodimentary Fact: Padron peppers are known for being the most famous produce of Padron, Spain, a medieval town in the southern part of the country. About 15,000 tons of peppers are grown in Padron each year.