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Taqueria del Sol's Green Chile Festival 2011

Taqueria del Sol Green Chile FestivalSeptember 11th marked the second Green Chile Festival at Taqueria del Sol in Atlanta. The festive crowd gathered in two seatings (I chose 5:00 PM) to celebrate the arrival of gorgeous green chiles from Deming, New Mexico. This year’s crop was hotter than last year’s, yielding tasty dishes with a real kick to them. The pods were also Sandias, not the typical Big Jim variety.

hatch chile pods

This year, I did not have the pleasure palling around with my friend Deborah and her friend Charlotte. I went solo, and the good thing about a festival like this, is that the conversation is easy, and the tables are for sharing. I met a couple that had been there last year as well. Their consensus was that the peppers were way hotter than last year, not to their liking. The wife has undergone chemotherapy fairly recently, and so her taste buds magnify the heat, making spicy foods uncomfortable. We talked all things chile, and started talking about composting, which, apparently is something both of us do. The husband is an avid fisherman, so he divulged the secret to growing fatter worms for fishing. Bread in the compost; who would have thunk?!

The first dish I tried was a hot dog with green chile relish, kind of a Southwestern Chow-Chow, if you will.

green chile relish hot dog

The relish consisted of roasted green chiles, chopped pickles, and onions. It was a great accompaniment to the hot dog. That said, I’m not the world’s biggest hot dog fan. Later on, I got a hint that the relish was really good on the next dish, RIBS!

green chile bbq sauce ribs

The ribs were initially served with a Green Chile BBQ Sauce, which was a Texas-style, vinegary sauce. They were phenomenal. The rub on the ribs was simple, with the sauce providing the oomph. Later on though, after running into owner Eddie Hernandez, I took his suggestion and put the hot dog relish on the ribs instead of the BBQ sauce. The ribs took on a whole other dimension, with the sweet tang of the pickle relish, and the smokiness of the ribs.

The next dish was a Green Chile Chicken Stew, which is, plain and simple comfort food at its best. Had it been laced with hominy, it would have been a great posole. Served over steamed white rice, the stew had chicken, green chile, tomatoes, garlic, and a little salt and pepper. Very simple and very comforting.

green chile chicken stew

Next, I had a very traditional Chile Relleno with a tasty medium-hot red chile sauce. Stuffed with cheese and fried, this traditional dish isn’t diet fare, but worth pretty much every calorie. The relleno contains an entire green chile, and you get to experience it in a different way from it being served either chopped or pulverized. The gooey cheese and sauce make this dish.

green chile relleno

The final main dish of the evening was Beef Tacos. Simple enough. A plain tortilla with some beef seasoned with salt and pepper, and a smear of roasted green chile. At first, this left a little to be desired. It was simply too bland. So, I went back and got another and walked over to the Relleno table. The addition of the red sauce made the dish. If you order food in New Mexico and you want to experience both red and green chile, you ask for “Christmas.” Christmas in September works for me.

green chile taco

Last year, a small wedding party showed up. It seems that there’s always a story going on beyond the food itself at events like these. Though another bride and groom didn’t materialize, I was involved in a funny story. This venue isn’t large, and the festival spills out into the parking lot. I got my wristband, and heard someone behind me saying, “Oh that looks like my friend Carla….” I don’t tend to think I look a lot like lots of other people, but okay, everyone has a doppelganger. Each time I went out to the parking lot to get the next dish, this woman screams out, “That looks like my friend Carla….” Bless her heart, after about four times of screaming at me, she finally comes out to the parking lot and says, “ Are you Carla...?” I looked at her and said, “Um, NO.” If it were your friend Carla, would she have not heard you and said something? And, don’t you know what your friends look like?

Dessert took on a different dimension this year with the addition of the truck from Honeysuckle Gelato in the parking lot. Wes and Jackson were on hand to scoop small dishes of a delicious Chile Bourbon Dulce de Leche Gelato with Roasted Pecans. My only quibble was that in the freezing process, the Green Chile became icy because it wasn’t chopped finely enough. It was otherwise perfect. The flavors all melded together and there are few times that gelato/ice cream has a kick.

honeysuckle gelato - chile bourbon dulce de leche gelato

Green Chile Brownies capped off the feast. The green chile makes the brownie nice and moist, a welcome finale to the evening.

green chile brownies

 

A native of Atlanta, Tina Brickley Engberg, is an avid lover of all things related to food, cooking and nutrition. A former professional candy-maker, professed grocery store junkie, and organic gardener, she is willing to take almost any recipe out for a spin. She graduated from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine many moons ago.