Espelette. Pronounced es-pa-let, this little pepper from the southern region of France is one of my favorite ingredients and I dare say, a secret weapon in my arsenal of cooking tricks. Although this pepper was originally cultivated in Mexico its subtlety, sweetness and mild spicy flavor is enhanced in the climate of southern France, which is its home now.
Let me point out that this is perhaps the most expensive pepper out there and although I own a cooking school and have access to incredible ingredients and top notch equipment, I still have to buy the stuff. I always consider if the true value of something is worth the ticket price. I assure you that Espelette is!
This pepper is like no other and it is mildly sweet, mildly spicy and so full of true red pepper taste it harkens eating a fresh red pepper. It takes fish, chicken, vegetables, eggs, mushrooms and any dish which features these ingredients to the next level.
Anybody who knows me well knows I love spicy food, but this spice is a subtlety bomb. Imagine a beautiful piece of halibut or that same old boneless skinless chicken breast with a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt, lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon, and perhaps some tarragon. Can you taste it? Well imagine a bit of spiciness and true sweet pepper taste shining through all those flavors packed in this beautiful bright crimson sprinkle of pepper. Yummy!
I was recently at the opening of a new restaurant in Andersonville called Ombra, and I caught the chef, Carlos Ysaguirre, standing on the line with a jar of the stuff just looking for opportunities to sprinkle. We extolled the glories of espelette pepper for several minutes, and I decided in that moment my next blog would be on the subject! Come and join our fan club and pick some up today.