Roasting Season

The Hatch spirit comes to Santa Monica

The smell of roasting chiles is wafting through the air around the intersection of Arizona Avenue and 3rd Street in downtown Santa Monica at this very moment.

The farmers' market is in full swing, and behind the ever-popular Weiser Family Farms stand, Alex Weiser is whirling an iron-mesh tumbler full of shishitos or piquillos or jalapeños over roaring blue propane flames. This new attraction, a smaller version of the roaster employed to char Hatch chiles in some grocery-store parking lots this time of year, has been fired up every Wednesday for the past month or so.

The barely spicy shishito peppers ($2), pocked with black ash and scattered with salt, are great finger food, particularly the surprisingly sweet red ones. And for delayed gratification, look to the larger, thicker-fleshed varieties, such as the meaty piquillos ($5 per quart). These are spun for a shorter period of time so that the skins can easily be rubbed off, the denuded peppers ready to be blended into a dip for Spanish chorizo or chopped and whisked into a vinaigrette for steak.

Chile season is just getting underway, so you can take advantage of Weiser's diverse crop, and the new roaster, through the fall.

Santa Monica Farmers' Market, Arizona Ave. & 2nd St., Santa Monica; weiserfamilyfarms.com