At least fifteen years ago in Barcelona, on recommendation by a friend, I ate tapas at the famous Cal Pep. At the time, it was kind of a hangout for Barcelona chefs. My chef friend Toni took me there and I'll never forget it! NEVER! I had had tapas before in New York and all over Spain but this was the real thing. We sat at the counter and ate dish after dish of the most delicious stuff. They saw the delight on my face and in order to keep it there they just kept bringing dish after dish, some of which we ordered and some of which magically appeared.
One of my favorites, and one I will never forget, were the pimientos de padrón. I'd never had them before, I'd never even seen them. The first few were as sweet and nutty as can be and the next one was blazing hot. It was like gambling, there was no way to discern the hot ones from the sweet ones but I loved the challenge!
Years later I was at the farmer's market in San Francisco and came across David at Happy Quail Farms. Looking at the array of peppers he grows I spotted what looked like pimientos de padrón. Sure enough! I couldn't have been happier as I forked over a bunch of dollars for a couple of bags and off I went to cook them.
It’s amazing how quickly they gained fame in the US. Maybe it's because they are so bloody easy to prepare. I spotted the first of the season on Saturday at the farmer's market so you'll start seeing them soon too. If you can't find them, try getting some seeds and growing them yourself.
SEARED PIMIENTOS DE PADRÓN
4 ounces pimientos de padrón
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Wash the pimientos and dry them very well. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. When the oil is rippling, add the pimientos and cook, shaking the pan several times, until the pimientos develop some small white blisters, have golden brown sear marks and they start to soften, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove from the pan and place on a towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with salt. To eat them, hold the pimientos by the stem and bite. Serve with a glass of chilled Cava.