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Pimientos de padrone

  • t

Has anyone had the tapa,pimientos de padrone,in a tapas bar in the Bay Area? I fell in love with these when I was in Madrid and introduced to them by a fellow pepper lover. They are peppers that look like jalapenos and as a tapa they seem to be broiled after being coated lightly with olive oil and salt. In Spain, you are given a plateful and it's almost akin to a culinary Russian roulette for these peppers can be mild or very hot and it's an amusing little game to play in the taparia to see who will be unlucky enough to get the hot ones. They are so very tasty and I'm wondering if someone has come across them here?

Does anyone have a recommendation for good Portugese food in the Bay Area? I now have a craving for it after reading about the Big Dog's adventures and remembering some of my experiences in Newark.

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  1. There's a tapas bar in the Haight that I THINK might've had 'em.

    My notes tell me these are good local tapas bars: Zarzuela, Timos, Esperpento, Picaro. I'd just go down the list of all the places in town, phoning and asking whether they have pimientos de padrone (definitely check for tortilla de patatas while you're at it!)

    Hey, I've hung out in Madrid a lot (and have the liver to prove it!)...if you feel like starting a tapas thread over on the "International" board, I'll join in.

    You sound pretty savvy...I'll bet you knew the good places between Pl. Santa Angel and the Prado...and the good horchata place in Plaza Mayor...

    hasta pronto

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jim Leff

      See you in international!

    2. Note that Happy Quail farm in East Palo Alto grows pimientos de padron. Happy Quail sells retail at Palo Alto (Saturday) and Menlo Park (Sunday) farmers' markets, usually at the Ferry Building plaza on Saturdays, and sometimes in Marin. See their Web site for details.

      Pimientos de padron are available from the early summer into October, and the ratio of not-hot-to-hot usually rises from about 1:10 in June to 3:10 in September, although a lot is dependent on weather.

      Happy Quail grows other peppers, including extraordinary aji, and they dry and grind peppers, selling them in small vials, so you can have a mid-winter hit of anything from their smokey mild pimento to flowery and zingful aji rojo to potent orange habanero.

      I often bring a bag or two of pimientos de padron when visiting people, especially those who have lived in Spain. Having read first about them in Calvin Trillin's relevant essay and knowing how hard they are to find in the U.S., we are lucky to have an excellent local source. Also, the hot ones are rarely extremely hot -- I only once had one that was clearly up in serrano/aji territory. This means that even people with low piquancy thresholds can enjoy the fruity-herbal quality of the pepper, at least at the beginning of the season.

      Preparation is a snap: saute hot till blistered with a little olive oil; add salt and serve hot. I prefer medium salt, like kosher salt, rather than giant salt like sel gris de Guerande.

      14 Replies
      1. re: David Sloo

        Just a second to the great pimientos de padron that Happy Quail Farm produces and the easy of their preparation. I made a fool of myself at a tapas bar in Barcelona and was thrilled to find them at the local farmers market. Wrecked a few other lives by introducing them to friends......

        1. re: chowetta

          Now if only they didn't cost $24 / lb. But I suppose that is related to their scarcity.

            1. re: Paul H

              At Quetzal this year they were selling for $6 a pound.

              Here's a few posts from 2006 to supplement this 1999 post.
              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/321002
              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/326561

              Should the OP be still looking restaurants that serve them here's reports from this year for Bocadillos and a special dinner at Olivetto's.
              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...
              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/326529

              There was also a possible siting at Cesar.

              1. re: rworange

                The season is definately past. Spanish table had some tired looking ones last month, they said they are last of the season, so it will be awhile. Cesar always has them on the menu.

                1. re: rworange

                  Are you sure that wasn't $6 a bag? I've seen that price many times, then late in the season they get a little cheaper. They do indeed have them on the menu at Cesar.

                  1. re: Atomica

                    Just going by what was in that post, haven't bought them personally.

                    Also in the above posts is the info that Mariquita occasionally has them.

            2. re: David Sloo

              I'm usually fine with the hot ones, and my husband loves them, but I do want to point out that the giant ones they sell at Queztal Farms (rworange linked to my post above) are unsurpassed by any normal sized ones I've ever had, here or in Spain (where I could afford to eat as much as I wanted). Almost every one in the bag drove us to blindness/deafness.

              I've been told by other Chowhounds that Spanish Table sells seeds - does anyone know what time of year that happens?

              1. re: coolbean98

                I've seen them there whenever they had the peppers, drop them n e-mail and ask when they'll get fresh ons in for the spring.

                1. re: coolbean98

                  "Giant" pimientos padron? That don't have the random heat of the small ones? Sounds like someone found a way to sell some common variety of chile at 10 times the normal price. Chiles cross pollinate like crazy, so at most these are a cross between pimientos de padron and some other chile.

                  I grew pimientos de padron from seed this year and they were prolific and very true to type (assuming Happy Quail's pimientos are the real thing). I was pleasantly surprised, since I've not had good luck here in SF with several other varieties of chile. I bought the seeds online from Harvest Moon Farms (just google to find them). They list them as "Padron Peppers". I would avoid buying seeds from a food store. No telling how old they might be. But assuming the seeds are truly pimientos de padron the main issue is germination rate, so if you only need a few plants go ahead and buy seeds from Spanish Table and if you get pimientos you like, save a few grams of seed for next year. Just start lots of seeds (5-10 times more than the number of plants you want) and pick the healthiest to transplant.

                  Sorry to ramble on. Is there a Chowhound gardening forum?

                  1. re: Zeldog

                    Yeah, like pimientos de padron on steroids, whew. Whatever chile they crossed these with it was a bit too much for me - I'll stick to the original!

                    I'm glad to finally hear a growing report on the seeds! I will look into getting them online. I am not a very good farmer - can they be grown in containers? What time of year is best to plant?

                    1. re: coolbean98

                      Yes they can be grown in containers. No smaller than 5-gallons. I planted two in a 14-gal plastic tote (don't forget drainage holes. I think I started the seeds in mid March and transplanted the first week in May. There's no frost in SF, so if you start too early the seedlings will just sit there until it warms up, so be patient if they don't seem too vigorous at first.

                      1. re: Zeldog

                        Excellent - thank you so much! Wish me luck!

                    2. re: Zeldog

                      I bought seeds, from harvest valley I believe, two years ago and they did quite well in my Vacaville Garden, but none I ate where really hot.

                      P.S A Chowhound Gardening forum would be great!

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                    1. Timo's and Picaro are gone, Jim, for your notes.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: essvee

                        Picaro on 16th in the Mission is still open.