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Spice Advice: Espelette Pepper Flakes

Spice Advice: Espelette Pepper Flakes

In the 1600’s, a Basque navigator traveling with Christopher Columbus brought a very special little pepper back home with them - the Espelette. Now primarily cultivated on a commune in the Basque region, this has gotta be one of the most adored chillis on Earth. Since 1968, French locals and international pepper lovers have gathered for a festival that celebrates its profound impact on local gastronomy. If you’re lucky enough to join in on the festivities (jealous!), you’ll enjoy seasonal cuisine, wine, dancing, and parades. You’ll even find hefty festoons of these crimson cuties decorating balconies and walls throughout the city. Now that’s just plain festive!

These palm-sized, piquant little pretties have a curved, conical shape, and mature from a grassy green to a handsome candy apple red. When dried, the shiny, slick-looking exterior remains, and the color transforms into a brick red we honestly wouldn’t mind as a shade of lipstick. Flavour-wise, the fresh pepper is fruity; citrusy even, and definitely more sweet than hot. Dried, the flakes are much smokier, and you’ll notice welcome moments of mild, understated heat. These fragrant, rustically-shaped flakes are the perfect addition when you want a little color, a little heat and a lot of rich, earthy flavour.

Traditionally, culturally defining dishes like savory, slow-simmered Poulet à la Basquaise and spicy, flavour-bombing Pipérade are favorite vehicles for our good friend Espelette. We love a sprinkle on succulent grilled scallops, roasted chicken, and pretty much any other protein you can think of. Also incredible mixed into a flavourful and vibrant homemade aioli, or even as a leveled-up black pepper replacement in just about every application - really! We know you’ve had some of the other pepper flakes out there, but these are special, trust us. Get a little adventurous, savor the taste of the Basque Country, and we’ll see y’all at the festival next year.

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