MILD, MEDIUM, HOT, EXTRA HOT: A fruit's flavor is easily detected through the taste buds, and we frequently sense its scent, too, but it isn't often that, from a distance, a fruit's particular sound may be discerned. There is an exception to this rule, and it is Hatch chile, a famously spicy pepper that is roasted in large and luscious quantities each August and early September at spots around the Land of Enchantment, the greater Southwest, and at points throughout the Golden State, too. We hear the burners' roar, that fiery hum from below the turning cage containing the tumbling chiles, but, if you listen closely, you can almost swear that you also hear the "crackle crackle" of the peppers as they meet the heat. It's a sublime experience if you're a chilehead, but it isn't one that you want to dally about, for Hatch chile season passes quickly. Finding a grocery store in your area committed to roasting the piquant peppers? It's your first step when August begins.
MELISSA'S PRODUCE... is setting up spicy shop at a number of regional Mollie Stone's in the weeks ahead, with sizzling roast-ready stops in Sausalito, San Francisco, Greenbrae, Burlingame, San Mateo, and Palo Alto coming up. Everything wraps on Sunday, Sept. 17 at the Mollie Stone's at 164 California in Palo Alto, so decide where and when you need to go for your stew-making, enchilada-topping, huevos-bettering chile. Just consider this: Some years the Hot and Extra Hot can carry a bit of added oomph, so keep that in mind if you decide to go for the top level of heat. Otherwise? It's the foodie-est part of the summer for fans of fiery classics, so best begin to listen for that certain "crackle crackle" that is so often, and so charmingly, a central part of chile roasting season.