The third weekend of September is a very happy time for us! Specifically because Pueblo, Colorado, hosts its annual Chile Festival. The people of Pueblo thoroughly embrace this wonderful tradition, but surprisingly, it remains very much a secret to most of Colorado. Luckily for us, we have family in Pueblo (John and Amy) who introduced us to the Chile Festival three years ago, and we have been going back for more every year since.
To experience the Chile Festival is to experience the smell of fresh chiles being roasted over flames by the tons, with the heat of the roasters radiating and the sun beating down, ashes of chile skins twirling all around us, and the distant sounds of ranchera music floating through the air.
But the best part of all is to experience THE TASTE of the chile festival. Upon arriving, we head straight for the “Pueblo Hottie” chile wrap: an entire Pueblo Hot chile sprinkled with cheese, folded into a tortilla, and heated over the grill. We burn our mouths but care very little about that, as the chile and seeds mix so deliciously with the cheese and tortilla. But that was just an appetizer in my book. So we move on to Bingo Burger.
Do not be deceived by the light-hearted name. The owners Richard and Mary take their food very seriously, and aren’t we glad they do! We order a round of Bingo Burgers which are made from local, grass-fed beef, mixed with roasted green chiles and then grilled. Cheddar on top. This year, we tried something new- the chocolate chile milkshake. It was . . . a REVELATION (ref: Ratatouille). There is only one way to really understand, and that is to go to Bingo Burger and order one yourself. Riquísimo!
We usually head back up the street to Hopscotch Bakery, owned by the same proprietors of said shake and burger establishment, but this year we were just out of time. Next year, I’ll plan ahead because I missed the chile shortbread cookies which I love. There’s just nothing better than the burn of chiles mixed with sweetness, and they make their shortbread cookies perfectly. Light, flakey, and oh so buttery.
All this is just a very small picture of what Pueblo and its Chile Festival have to offer. I have yet to try the sausage sandwich with chiles, among other temptations. I love street food. I do. I just wish it was more available in this small part of the world. So, with my salivary glands already working in anticipation of next year, I will wait again, very impatiently for September 2011.