Espelette powder, produced for centuries in the Basque country of southwestern France, is the aristocrat of the chile world. It’s only moderately hot, but has a touch of sweetness, a rich aroma of roasted tomatoes and peppers, and a complex, lingering aftertaste, imparting distinction to foods from omelets to octopuses. Now it’s catching on with California growers, including Kenter Canyon Farms of Fillmore, which just started selling the freshly ground spice at local farmers markets.
This spring Dedlow planted an acre of chiles to sell fresh, dried and in powders, including Espelette, Cayenne (more unidimensionally sharp and hot) and Padron (surprisingly spicy and intensely flavored). He and his wife are still refining the pod-grinding process (French Espelette is a bit more fine-textured), the packaging and the price (currently $20 for a glass bottle containing 25 grams), but last week they started to sell their powders at farmers markets at Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica (Wednesday); soon they'll add Santa Monica (Virginia Park) and Calabasas.