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The Pepper People
Family Farming Specialty Peppers in the San Francisco Bay Area Since 1980
Happy Quail Farms Press
Addicted to those tender, green pimientos de Padrón peppers that grace the menu of so many restaurants now? You have David Winsberg of Happy Quail Farms in East Palo Alto to thank.
PADRONS ARE PICK OF THE CROP, SPECIALLY GROWN IN EAST PALO ALTO
At Happy Quail Farms, David Winsberg grows 30 varieties of peppers in seven sprawling back yards in East Palo Alto.
Red, heart-shaped ones perfect for roasting. Creamy white Hungarian ones ripe for pickling or stuffing. Opulent purple ones that dazzle in salads. And Dutch ones, super sweet and juicy, with the haunting hue of bittersweet chocolate.
In the shadow of 101, grower preserves East Palo Alto’s agricultural history
The tan, balding man is David Winsberg, a peculiarity even in the world of independent farming. Most of his neighbors at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market this Saturday morning in early May have been awake for hours, some driving hundreds of miles from farms as large as 200 and 300 acres. Winsberg has zipped 32 miles up Highway 101 from East Palo Alto, where he runs a microfarm out of his backyard....
Happy Quail Farms thrives on high-quality produce
No John Deere tractors rumble up and down endless rows stirring up plumes of fertile dust. No biplanes spray insecticide over tender crops. No crews of straw-hatted workers cut and pack truckloads of ripe vegetables.
Mostly sweet—but sometimes not—Padrón peppers can pack serious heat.
Some pilgrims make the long trek to Spain’s Santiago de Compostela as a spiritual quest. Others, no less dedicated, come for the peppers: locally grown pimientos de Padrón that are scarfed down by the plateful at tapas bars all around the city.
East Palo Alto's early incarnation as an agrarian utopia may be informing its success in the future
The chicken coops and greenhouses are long-gone, but if one knows just where to look, the City of East Palo Alto still bears some physical reminders of its agrarian past.
Specialty Spanish ingredients are spicing up kitchens throughout the Bay Area
Now that you've made a permanent place in your pantry for balsamic vinegar, Arborio rice, Tuscan olive oil and other Italian essentials, you'll need to clear space for the next must-haves: the flood of fine ingredients from Spain.
Chile heads can understand that Judy Sheldon carried a torch for a pepper that captured her heart in a foreign land long ago.
While in Spain on a walking tour in the early 1990s, the San Francisco gardener ventured into tapas bars where she met the muy simpatico pimiento de Padron. That mildly sweet green chile from the Galicia region, fried in olive oil and served by the plate, also headlines a village festival in its honor.
When my cooking becomes too elaborate, memories of the pimientos de Padrón I have eaten in Galicia bring me back to my center
These tiny green peppers, a specialty of Spain's humid northwestern region, require no embellishment. All you need to bring out their refreshing grassy flavor - reminiscent of freshly picked asparagus - are the warm caress of olive oil and the rugged kiss of coarse sea salt.
Pimientos de padrón, a tapa tradition in Galicia, in northwestern Spain, are now being grown in California.
These small fresh green chilies, not much bigger than grapes, are usually sautéed for about a minute in hot olive oil, dusted with sea salt and served as a nibble with a glass of white wine. Most have a mild, nicely vegetal flavor, but every now and then one turns up as hot as a jalapeño, making cocktail hour a sort of Spanish roulette.