Fall is my absolute favorite time of year in New Mexico. Cooler nights, green chile roasting, corn mazes, high school football. And more green chile roasting.
There are green chile purists out there who will argue that Hatch green chile is the only way to go, that the best chile in the world is grown in the southern Rio Grande Corridor of New Mexico. I’m a fan, don’t get me wrong, but I have to say that, consistently, the best green chile I’ve ever put in my freezer came from Corrales. And that green chile always came from Wagner Farms.
It’s been a tradition in my little family for a long time. At least one Sunday in the fall (sometimes two, sometimes three), we’d load up for the drive to Corrales and an afternoon at Wagner Farms. They’re at 5000 Corrales Road in Corrales, on the north end of the village, located in a long adobe building that may have been there for the 100 years that the Farm’s been in existence.
There’s a ritual to our trips to Wagner’s – we go in and pick out our chile (Sandia Hot and Big Jim Medium), wander through the mounds of jalepenos, choose a bag of roasting ears, a basket of peaches and apples, and then we pay for our veggies. We get a number for our roasted chile (which is carried out to the roasters under the lean-to on the north end of the building) and then we head for the green chile stew and caramel apples. It’s a rule – we don’t go to Wagner’s without getting a caramel apple.
After I moved to Logan, I missed the Wagner’s ritual for a few years. I really missed it. But a couple of weeks ago, Johanna and I set aside a Sunday to get our Corrales green chile fix. We had breakfast in the village (more about that later. . .), wandered around the Farmer’s Market, and then when we couldn’t stand the anticipation any longer, we headed to Wagner’s.
They’ve fancied up the building a bit – there’s a cafe in a new addition on the south end, and they’ve added more roasters, and there’s a cute little beverage stand next to the cash registers. But the ambiance is still the same – it’s eating locally, home-grown produce with the same guy calling your number for your chile, the same kids (Wagner grandkids, I’m guessing) handing us our caramel apples and taking our money. There are still ristras hanging from the portal, and there’s still that amazing smell of green chile roasting in the air.
Their website says that they also have a corn maze and pumpkin patch, which sounds like just another great excuse to visit. My best New Mexico advice is this: Head out to Wagners’ some Sunday this month or next. Create your own chile gathering ritual. And if you can’t get there from where you are, they’ll ship. You can have your own 25 lb bag of chile delivered to your door.
Taste it and see if you don’t agree – it’s definitely as good, if not better than Hatch. But maybe I need another bag of Hatch to compare. . .