Several years running, Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftway stores in Olympia are roasting chiles on Saturdays in August. Thriftway, partnering with Charlie’s Produce, is roasting Hatch chiles on site, alternating stores each weekend. Visit Ralph’s Thriftway August 5 and 19, and Bayview Thriftway August 12 and 26 to purchase your Hatch chiles. Or, pre-order online now. While there, enter the free giveaways, including major league baseball and soccer game tickets, no purchase is necessary. Come out and visit the huge tent where it’s all happening. Breath in the roasted chile aroma, listen to some festive music and take some chiles home.
Thriftway starts off by gearing up the roaster and roasting the chiles by a hot, smokey fire, sending off an aroma that makes passersby yearn for chile-infused foods. “We’re the biggest event for Hatch chile in the Northwest,” Thriftway Produce Supervisor Nate Conat says. “Nobody else does it as big as we do. We roast 80 cases every single week.” The green chiles have four different heat levels: extra hot, hot, medium and mild. Look for the sticker on the boxes with the flame labeled heat indicator.
If you’ve never tried a New Mexico Hatch chile, you will want to stop by to sample and likely take a pound home. Chiles at the Thriftway roasting fest are grown by Young Guns, a fourth-generation family farm and are from the yearly harvest in the New Mexico Hatch Valley. “Some of the best memories of these events are simple, yet exciting,” Joshua Orr of Charlie’s Produce says. “Getting the Hatch roasters fired up, roasting off the first fresh case of the Hatch chile peppers and being able to smell and see the smoke rise from the roasters is pretty darn cool.”
Thriftway and Charlie’s Produce are also offering exciting giveaways at the event that do not require a purchase. Raffle entry for a pair of Seattle Mariners tickets is available on August 5, and a pair of Seattle Sounders tickets are being raffled August 12. Winners will be notified via email. Many more free giveaways are planned, and up to date information can be found at the Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftway stores website.
Not only will Thriftway have the chiles to facilitate nearly endless recipes, but they will also have many ready-to-go Hatch chile foods on site. The deli will have Hatch enchiladas, Hatch quiche, Hatch cornbread and Hatch mac-n-cheese. The meat department will have Hatch burgers and Hatch brats. Coolers with many of those items will be outside near the roasting. Look for the huge white tent outside the store and follow the sounds and smells.
Customers will find additional fruit and vegetable pairings that complement chile recipes. “Something we’ve never done in the past is tie some of our fruit and vegetables into the mix,” Conat says. “We’re going to team up with our best-selling watermelon, which is an organic, Yumi Black Seedless. It’s completely red on the inside like a regular watermelon and super dark on the outside. It is so sweet and so juicy.” Thriftway is also planning to have corn available in the outdoor fest area as well, including organic corn. Hatch chile grower Young Guns also makes a variety of salsas, and Thriftway plans to have six of their different options available.
Repeat customers drive in from neighboring counties to buy chiles. Conat says people are excited, as sometimes they are down to their last bag. Chiles are roasted until their skins are toasted, then bagged. Bagging the roasted chile causes the chile to sweat, which allows for an easier removal of the outer skin. Though, some cooks prefer to leave the toasted skin layer intact to create a specific flavor and texture. “I love chiles,” Conat says. “It is the most unique pepper flavor that I’ve ever tried, and it can make any one of your dishes, whether it is mac and cheese, enchiladas or eggs in the morning and put it on a whole new level.”
Check the Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftway stores website to find current information on the latest free giveaways during the hatch Chile roasting fest. Follow the smell of roasted chiles and perhaps grab a Yumi watermelon and some Hatch cornbread to take home too. Pre-orders can be picked up at the big tent.
“The excitement and passion that the teams at Ralphs and Bayview produce every year for the Hatch chile events is second to none,” Orr says. “The Hatch pepper speaks for itself, but what really makes the event special is the quality of people that created and support the event.”
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