Olive Me Blog

Teresa Parker blogs about restaurants, recipes, and the reasons why she's in love with Spain's food and culture.

Midsummer Pimientos

If you thought the pimientos you ordered in New York or Madrid this winter were good, belly up for another round pronto. What you get, especially if you happen to be in Galicia, in the northwest corner of Spain, will put those wimpy winter peppers to shame. Midsummer is the season for the intensely flavorful, rarely spicy Pimiento de Padrón.

The Galicians are busily pampering and hoarding their best produce right about now for the annual Festa do Pemento de Herbón, held the first Saturday in August in the town of Padrón (where these peppers have denominación de origen status).

Blistered in a hot pan of olive oil and sprinkled with crunchy sea salt, these peppers can inspire serious longing among those of us living at a ridiculous distance from Galicia. Romantics may turn to Calvin Trillin for comfort. His account of the quest for padrones, originally published in Gourmet, November, 1999, can be found in Feeding a Yen.

But after one of these peppers left Maricel Presilla "seduced for life," (Miami Herald, August 10, 2006), she got down to business and found a U.S. source: Happy Quail Farms in East Palo Alto, California. June through October, Happy Quail Farms will ship retail: a minimum order of two pounds, enough for a party of 10 people, costs about $50 (including shipping to the East Coast). Grower David Winsberg, says, "that's about the same as you would pay without hesitation for a good bottle of wine. Not bad for the truffle of the pepper world."

(Thanks to Happy Quail Farms for their photo of peppers in a hot skillet. Their website has instructions on preparing the peppers, too.)

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