2014 Gift Guide, Day Twelve

December 5, 2014

Pepper

Home Grown Pepper Powder


Warm heat. Fruity. Complex. This is flavor that stays with you, reverberating in the mouth.  

Think about the sweet, appealing fruitiness of habanero. Now remove the knockout punch. That will give you an idea of ezpeleta peppers. For years I've been using piment d'espalette, sprinkling it on everything from uni pasta to soft boiled eggs. But the stuff I buy in stores is often so antique there's little left but color.

A few months ago, walking through the Portland farmers' market, I discovered Viridian Farms. Specializing in seeds from Spain and France, they've been growing their own peppers, slowly drying them and grinding them into powder. Their piment basquaise is powerful stuff; I'll never be without it again.

If you have a heat fiend on your list, you might want to consider buying some seeds for them to grow. Viridian farms sells all kinds of exotic pepper seeds – including rare Spanish varietals like pimientos de padron-  which makes this a perfect place to shop for gardeners. Another appealing idea: terrific looking haricot tarbais, for everyone eager to cook authentic cassoulet.

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