If you've ever traveled to France and taken a cooking class or browsed through the market, you've probably come across piment d'Espelette, a mildly spicy and roundly sweet red pepper that is used on everything from cheese soufflés to meat. But if you've tried to find it in the U.S. you've been out of luck — until now.
Piment d'Espelette is a pepper grown in the Basque region of Southern France, and the owner of a spice store once told me it's very expensive to import. So in French recipes I've made do with sweet paprika, which is actually not too dissimilar.
But now an outfit in California is growing the same pepper used to make piment d'Espelette, and one of my friends swears by it. They don't call it "d'Espelette," naturally, since Espelette is a town in the Basque region where this pepper is produced. Instead, they call it piment d'ville, to reflect its more local California origins.
It's a really delicious pepper and if you're looking to enlarge your collection or just recapture a recipe you tried in France, I recommend it. It's also wonderful on popcorn and anything cheesy.