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Taqueria del Sol's Green Chile Festival 2010

Taqueria del Sol in Atlanta hosted a Green Chile Festival Sunday the 12th of September at its Howell Mill Road location. The original location of a now small, locally-owned chain of restaurants, Taqueria del Sol ( hit the mark with this fun, festive event that spilled out into the parking lot, and pretty much any other space someone could sit down and partake. A $12 wristband entitled you to all-you-can-eat dishes created with just-roasted Green Chile brought in from Hatch, New Mexico for the occasion. For those of you who love chili recipes, it doesn't get much better than fresh roasted green chile. Of course, traditional chili powder comes from the ripened-to-red dried versions of the same varieties of peppers.

Roasting green chile can be as easy as using your grill or broiling them in your oven. For a case at a time however, the best way to roast is to have an industrial chile roaster that's attached to a propane tank. It looks vaguely like a lottery ball spinner, only really hot.

green chile taco

A case goes in, the fire cranks up, and almost immediately, you hear the popping of the skins of the chiles. The chiles tumble in the basket and cook very quickly. At this particular event, someone sat off to the side with rubber gloves on, peeling the skins off and sending the roasted chiles directly to the kitchen. I must also note that the chiles were, for the most part, quite mild. I saw a number of the boxes by the roaster and none were marked "Hot." Darn.

green chile taco

Taqueria del Sol's kitchen has a way with the chiles! We had our choice of several different stations. Of course, Chile Rellenos were a big hit. Theirs were served with a roasted tomato sauce underneath. Stuffed with cheese, breaded, fried, and nothing else, the Rellenos, while incredibly filling, are one of the best showcases of the chile.

green chile taco

Green Chile topped sliders were a tasty treat. In New Mexico, and other locations throughout the West, restaurants that serve hamburgers serve green chile as a topping. These sliders were very (black) peppery with a dab of cheese and chopped green chile on top. One of the best green chile burgers I've ever had was at Blake's Lottaburger in Cuba, New Mexico. These were equally delicious.

green chile taco

We were offered two types of tacos, including the restaurant's famous South by Southwest Brisket tacos. So, in a little basket, side by side were two tasty tacos: one pork and one brisket. Both delicious, but I really loved the South by Southwest Brisket. It had a stronger sauce to stand up to the green chile.

green chile taco

Chicken Green Chile Enchilada casserole is a winter favorite in our house. I had my reservations about seeing it in the lineup of dishes at the festival. I must say that it was far tastier than my own, and had a lot of subtle flavors.

I stood in line for tacos in front of a group of ladies that were, for Atlanta, quite hard core about their chiles. One mentioned she'd had 10 pounds of fresh chile sent and was done with most of it. My husband is from Albuquerque, so I've spent a fair amount of time there, enjoying the local cuisine. My introduction into food heaven occurred when I was 12 and we made a family trip out to Santa Fe to see the opera. We drove down with cousins from Denver, and hit some of the high points of New Mexico's cuisine. Now that I have a brother in law in Albuquerque, that connection to the food remains strong. Some people buy souvenirs, I buy wicked hot salsa and pack it in my suitcase. Ditto chili powder. I digress. One of the things the ladies in line mentioned was the Green Chile Brownies that were for dessert. The brownies were outstanding. One thing that green chile adds to brownies is a great level of moisture. They're dense and they're moist and oh so delicious.

Towards the end, I'd caught up with my friend Deborah and her friend Charlotte. We laughed and ate and watched a spectacle of sorts unfold. A very young couple came into the crowd, dressed in wedding gown and tuxedo. I asked later; they'd gotten married up in Athens, GA that afternoon, and drove down afterwards, just to attend the chile festival. Now that's dedication!