Do not settle for humdrum ground black pepper. Spice up your scrambled eggs with the vibrantly red yet subtly piquant pepper of Basque Country, Piment d'Espelette.
Known as Ezpeletako biperra in Basque, this is a dried red chili powder from the French Basque region. A protective designation of origin mandates the peppers only come from in and around the town of Espelette, in the province of Labourd, and are grown, harvested, and prepared according to strict guidelines. The peppers are harvested in late summer and early autumn, strung by hand to dry in the sun, and dried further in wood-burning ovens prior to being ground into powder.
Many chefs claim there is no substitute for the complex flavor of the spice. Many. Chef Gerald Hirigoyen, in his cookbook Pintxos: Small Plates in the Basque Tradition, calls for Piment d'Espelette in many of his recipes, including Basque Fries, Crispy Shrimp, and the Caramelized Onions with Idiazábal Cheese pintxo. The book is an invaluable resource if you're looking for recipes for pintxos that are a bit more labor intensive but worth the effort.
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