piment d’Espelette is here

In my first post, I recommended readers try piment d’Espelette.

That just got easier, as the relatively rare ground red pepper now is available at Savvy Spices at 3015B Banksville Road. Owners Deb and Dave Johnson got their hands on some of the stuff, which their store is selling for $14.99 for a 1.4-ounce jar.

Interestingly, it’s the first herb or spice that they’re selling not in their own packaging, because they can’t:

The Espelette pepper is an “appellation d’origine controlee” or AOC product, meaning that the French government protects and promotes the stuff that is grown in the specific, small area around Espelette in Pyrenees-Atlantiques. (Champagne is another such French product). The jars that the Johnsons have imported are so marked.P1210202

That “department” of France is right on the southwest corner of the country on the border of Spain. The mild ground pepper is an important part of the cuisine of the Basque country, and is one of the ingredients in a pepper sauce called piperade.

But you can put it on and in just about anything — the Basques use it like we use black pepper.

The Johnsons, who live in Mt. Lebanon, are going to experiment with it.

Meanwhile, you can find an interesting recipe for Spicy Chocolate Mousse here: http://www.latimesmagazine.com/2012/01/piment-despelette.html

Read more of Bob’s blog at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: pgplate.com/forks.

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