The above picture is of New Mexican chilies. It was taken two years ago during the southern New Mexico chile harvest. The chilies pictured are call New Mexican or Anaheim chilies, depending on with whom you are speaking. They can range from somewhat mild to medium hot to Scotch Bonnet hot, depending upon the batch and where they are grown.
Having said that, a grandma-friendly, totally sweet, heat-free New Mexican chile in New Mexico is rarer than a heterosexual male at a Lady Gaga concert.
Late summer is harvest time in New Mexico, and across the Southwest, grocery stores of all stripes stock up on these beauties so people (and restaurants) can roast them to a blistered, smoky, garlic-pungent perfection — the best way to bring out their sweet-spicy-crisp, herbaceousness.
New Mexican chile peppers are the basis of one of America’s most unique, indigenous cuisines. The Pueblo Indians started their cultivation a millennia before the Conquistadors showed up, and when someone had the bright idea to throw these roasted, seeded and chopped peppers on (and in) a slightly thicker, doughier version of the Mexican tortilla (muchos gracias Navajo Nation fry bread!), the original American fusion food was born.
Eating Las Vegas is nuts about New Mexican chile. He eats his weight in them whenever he goes to Albuquerque-Santa Fe — which is often — because he considers their flavor profile, and the hearty soups, salsas, stews and savories made with them, to be some of the most honest food on earth.
ELV — the man, the myth, the chile-head — is always on the lookout for a New Mexican chile fix. Occasionally, he hits up Carlito’s Burritos when he’s desperate, but has always found it a pale facsimile of the real thing, and the weakest form of this food found west of The Shed.
But that was before he ate at Chile Addiction — the way too slick by half “ode” to New Mexican food that recently popped up near Flamingo and the I-215.
Chile Addiction is the Taylor Swift of New Mexican food to Carlito’s Miley Cyrus. One is canned, bland and offense-free; the other tries too hard to keep it real, but is just as calculating (and dumbed-down) in its own way.
Neither one of them tastes anything like the actual enchilada, and their food wouldn’t pass muster in a corner dive within 300 miles of ABQ. (That’s actually unfair, since some of the best chile concoctions come from corner dives and lunch counters all over N.M.)
If you insist, here was ELV’s green chile cheeseburger at Chile Addiction in all of its Sysco-special, cheap cheese, banal beef, Ortega glory:
…and here is the straight-from-a-can “Christmas” adovada:
Suffice it to say that the best things about these dishes are the pictures.
“I wouldn’t eat these with an Arizonan’s palate,” ELV’s comely dining companion remarked to him.
And she was right.
Carlito’s may not be the real deal, but at least if you close your eyes and inhale the perfume, you can almost convince yourself you’re at Duran Central Pharmacy on the outskirts of Old Town in ABQ:
As for Chile Addiction: you have been warned.
ELV’s dinner for two came to $20 + a $5 tip for the good service in an empty restaurant.
4235 South Fort Apache #260
Las Vegas, NV
3345 East Patrick Lane #105
Las Vegas, NV 89120
DURAN CENTRAL PHARMACY
1815 Central Ave. NW
Albuquerque, NM 87104