Eat This

How to Own Central Market's Hatch Chile Fest

Central Market's Hatch Chile Festival ends on August 19, and I almost missed it. But I have refocused on the important things and I'm ready to go. Like a latch-key kid whose parents are out for bowling night, I'm going to live it up and have what I want for dinner, and that's gonna be Hatch.

Everything I can get my hands on (for 50 bucks or less): I just supermarket-sweeped the closest CM and came home clutching bags filled with my own version of a 3-course Hatch Chile extravaganza.

Sitting on my living room floor and using my ottoman as a table, I get started. For my appetizer, I throw some Firehook Hatch Chile baked crackers on the plate and spoon on some Hatch Chile Jalapeno Jam from Robert Rothschild. And popcorn. I know it's reminiscent of Snoopy's Thanksgiving dinner, but I am a grownup and I can do what I want.

The crackers are fresh and crispy with quality salt and pepper. And that jam has a tasty slow burn. The popcorn (Gary Poppins White Cheddar + Hatch Chile) is abundantly seasoned but won't come close to making you sweat like the jam does. Let's call it a palate cleanser.

The main dish is Central Market "Chef's Special" sushi. I don't see Hatch anywhere on the label (or any identifying ingredients at all), but ye ask and ye shall be told by the chef, "Yes. We do have a hatch roll. There it is." And here it is. It's fresh and has some flavor, and I believe those are little pieces of hatch chiles on top. Like any other roll, I pretty much drown it in wasabi-greened soy sauce. Apologies to the chef.

Sushi finished, I move on to the dessert course: Firehook Hatch Chile Brownie Bark washed down with Spicy Hatch Green Chile blend by Katz Coffee, a Texas company. The bark is crunchy and burns my taste buds in a good way, and the coffee has a nice shadow of spice without feeling too peppery. I eat way too many pieces of bark and lie back against my couch.

I've got one item left: the Fire & Ice Sorbet from Savoy Sorbet, based in Houston. I tear into that carton with the biggest spoon I can find -- a serving ladle -- because I can, because I'm a grownup. It's got whispers of each freakishly perfect flavor (hatch, lime, thyme and tequila) and its smooth iciness relieves me of all of the heat from the other dishes.

Hatch extravaganza accomplished. I'm full. Now excuse me while I watch some rated R movies and toilet-paper my neighbor's house.