Hatch chiles, Ja­maican food test At­lanta’s palates

GA Voice - - Front Page -

This week, we’re vis­it­ing a cou­ple of hot spots. First up is the an­nual six-week homage to the renowned Hatch chile at

Ta­que­ria del Sol (2165 Cheshire Bridge Rd., 404-321-1118, and other lo­ca­tions, taque­ri­adel­sol.com).

I’ve writ­ten about this for over 10 years – ever since the restau­rant be­gan buy­ing a few tons of the chiles dur­ing their brief har­vest in the Hatch, New Mex­ico, area.

What makes the Hatch such a world­wide fa­vorite among chile­heads? For me, it’s in part its stur­di­ness. It usu­ally stands up to roast­ing and fry­ing, with­out los­ing its clean but sub­tle fla­vor, in­clud­ing a vaguely sweet note that plays with the spici­ness. The Hatch does some­times en­gage the de­light­ful masochism of reach­ing the lim­its of one’s tol­er­ance. Its spici­ness is not pre­dictable, but usu­ally well be­low that of a ha­banero or Scotch bon­net.

Ta­que­ria del Sol in­cor­po­rates the fresh chiles in spe­cials, but there is one that I al­ways or­der. It’s not on the menu, but you’ll see a flier posted on the wall be­hind the bar. That’s the chile rel­leno. This is not your typ­i­cal Mex­i­can ver­sion made with a poblano pep­per filled with meat and/or cheese, fried in a coat­ing that ranges from thin to spongy.

Ta­que­ria del Sol’s is filled with a creamy, melt­ing cheese and served over a roasted tomata sauce. It’s kind of South­ern-fried to pro­duce a crunchy panko-like coat­ing.

The bum­mer this year is that the rel­lenos are not avail­able at lunch. I rec­om­mend that you go early to din­ner, like 6 p.m., to try them. I don’t know why, but the chile it­self seems stur­dier then. They are $6 each and two will fill most din­ers. Get a side of corn chow­der if you need more. Please. Get over your fear of scald­ing your tongue and anus.

I also paid a visit this week to the 2-mon­thold in Glen­wood Park

Fes­ti­vals Jerk Chicken Grill (925 Gar­rett St., 404-549-9828, fes­ti­val­sjerk.com).

I love Ja­maican food’s jerk sea­son­ing, which ideally con­tains atomic Scotch bon­net chiles. Un­for­tu­nately, those are rarely avail­able around town and the owner told me his clien­tele would not be able to tol­er­ate them, any­way.

I get that, but the jerk chicken and (ex­ceed­ingly dry) pork at Fes­ti­vals is about the mildest I’ve ever tasted – even milder than at the non-Ja­maican Eats on Ponce de Leon. I told the owner this and, again, he said he had to turn the spici­ness “way down” for his cus­tomers. I hear this ev­ery­where. He did say the spici­ness can be amped up by sauces. The hottest was in­deed in­tense, but also un­pleas­antly sug­ary. Sugar is a com­mon in­gre­di­ent used to tem­per heat, but this was too syrupy.

I also tried de­li­ciously glazed plan­tains and callaloo, a mix of mys­te­ri­ous greens pop­u­lar through­out the Car­ribbean. I pre­fer the leaves rough-chopped in­stead of Fes­ti­vals’ tex­ture of creamed spinach, but I’ve only eaten them a few times be­fore.

The restau­rant is ob­vi­ously try­ing to ap­peal to ev­ery­one. There’s a kids’ menu, jerk pizza, jerk flat­bread, jerk sand­wiches, jerk tacos, even jerk eggrolls – and much more. The restau­rant name, by the way, refers to a dumpling pop­u­lar in Ja­maica. The owner told me that its func­tion is to tem­per spici­ness, but, well, it’s de­li­cious any­way. Amp it up, guys!

Cliff Bo­s­tock is a for­mer psy­chother­a­pist now spe­cial­iz­ing in life coach­ing. Con­tact him at 404-518-4415 or cliff­bo­stock@gmail.com.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.