The Socks visited London Borough Market at the weekend. This was a mistake as it was incredibly crowded and impossible to just gently meander around the stalls admiring the produce without being carried quickly away by the flow of crushing bodies around. We gave up and went to the lively Brindisa for a tapas lunch instead.
One of the Socks' favourite tapas is pimientos padron. These are small green chili peppers originally from Padron in Galicia although the Socks first sampled them in a tapas bar in Barcelona some years ago along with the inevitable patatas bravas, well flavoured chorizo and octopus that had been beaten to a pulp by some guy with a club at the far end of the bar. (No doubt that is why the Spanish name for octopus is pulpo.) Happy quantities of alcoholic beverages were no doubt also consumed as we worked our way through the various ciders, sherries and wines on display.
Back to Brindisa and they did indeed have the pimientos on the menu. Fried in olive oil, drained and sprinkled with a good amount of salt and eaten whole the peppers have a mild flavour except for about one in ten being headblowingly hot! This adds a Russian Roulette aspect to the dish where one both hopes and fears that the next pepper will be the ONE. Luckily the Socks got a hot one each so there was no argument.
A few years ago it was pretty much impossible to buy these peppers in the UK except occasionally through suppliers like Brindisa and it seemed that few places outside Galicia could successfully grow them. The Socks did find some at the excellent South Devon Chilli Farm and also bought seeds to grow their own. The Sock's first crop grown outdoors two years ago did well with thriving plants and plenty of fruits continuing into autumn. Whilst the flavour of these may have been a little lacking compared to those grown in Galicia they were not at all bad and even produced a few of the hot ones. By contrast, the last two summers of rain have produced extremely poor results with not enough peppers at any one time to produce a serving.
Perhaps, after all, it is one of these dishes best enjoyed on holiday where the excitement and ambiance adds something special to the experience which doesn't totally translate to having them for supper on a soggy British summer evening. After all, can there be a living person who actually enjoys limoncello outside of their Italian holiday?