March 3, 2015
You can pick up Piment d'Espelette at Allspice in the East Village
Allspice Find: Piment d'Espelette  

By Wini Moranville


Before the days when you could order just about anything on the Internet, Piment d'Espelette was one of those delicacies I packed in my suitcase when coming home from France. Now, however, you can get it at Allspice (400 E. Locust St. in the East Village).


This powdered spice, made from a specific variety of pepper grown in and around the French Basque town of Espelette, is so well-respected that it has received the hallowed AOC (Appellation d'Origine Controlée) status, which means that unless the piments are from this particular region,

A little sprinkle of the spice adds a wow factor to your weekend brunch. 

it can't be called Piment d'Espelette.


What makes it so special? In terms of spice level, these piments aren't blazing hotties by any means. Rather, they bring a more gentle spiciness, as well as an intriguing fruity angle. (BonAppé identifies the flavor as somewhat peach-like, with sea-brine qualities and a "nuanced, subtle heat.")


Nuanced? Indeed--no wonder the French like it.


The next time you serve a side dish of buttered or olive-oiled pasta, toss in a little Piment d'Espelette to intensify the flavors. I also like sprinkling it over twice-baked potatoes. The spice is especially tailor-made for eggs: Try adding it to the weekend's scrambled eggs, or sprinkling it on deviled eggs.


If you truly want to enjoy it the way the Basques do, make my Piperade, a dish of onions, tomatoes, and green and red bell peppers that goes beautifully with fish, chicken and above all, eggs (serving it on or in an omelet equals a slice of bright Basque heaven).


Yes, the spice is pricey ($14.25 for a ¼-cup jar), but I've found that it's just as expensive in France. Happily, a little goes a long way.


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fyi: Mark Your Calendar   

  • The Des Moines Community Playhouse (831 42nd St.) has announced the lineup for its 2015-16 season, and it includes favorites such as "Monty Python's Spamalot" and "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" and, for kids, shows like "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." Season tickets go on sale March 17 and can be purchased here, at the ticket office or by phone at 277-6261. For more information, visit
  • Are you looking for something fun to do with the youngsters this weekend? Children & Families of Iowa's (CFI) Kidsfest will be March 6-8 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in the Varied Industries Building (3000 E. Grand Ave.). Activities will include a ventriloquist show, face painting, a photo booth, a circus train and a kids' glamour spa. The first 100 guests to arrive on Friday will receive a ticket to the snow queen and ice princess private party, and the first 100 guests to get there on Sunday will receive a ticket to the superhero private party. Tickets cost $7.50 per person and can be purchased at the door. Times vary; for more information, visit
  • The Central Iowa Blues Society and Colon Cancer Foundation of Iowa will team up on March 7 for The Bottoms Up Blues Bash at 6 p.m. at Wooly's in the East Village (504 E. Locust St.). The family event will showcase The Candymakers, The Heath Alan Band featuring Mat Woods and Justin Appel, and Dylan Boyle to celebrate March as National Colon Cancer Awareness Month and to raise funds to help fight the disease. Tickets cost $20 in advance; $25 day of show (kids 12 and under free), and can be purchased here or at Wooly's.
  • Celebrate artistic excellence at Metro Arts Alliance's Dining for the Arts event April 11, 6-9 p.m. at the West Des Moines Marriott. In addition to gourmet appetizers, a silent auction and live entertainment, the event will include the presentation of the Art Within Everything (AWE) awards. We're especially excited about the awards because Business Publications Corp., dsm's parent company, is receiving the "AWE Infusion Award" for recognizing, covering and honoring the arts in our products and within the workplace. Other AWE awards will go to Chad Cox and Stewart BuckTickets are $50 per person and benefit Metro Arts; purchase them here or by calling 280-3222.

Construction on the new Culinary Loft will be completed in April.   

P.S. Opening Soon: the Culinary Loft 


We just heard that the new Culinary Loft at
Des Moines Social Club is set to open in April; the specific date is expected to be announced within a few weeks. We can't wait to hear what the full list of cooking classes will include, but we know now that three of them will be called "Restaurant Series," "Gastronomes Book Club" and "Wine & Cheese With Des Moines."

The venue will be a gathering place for good conversation and good food. Amanda Mae Phillips, a Kansas City native and graduate of New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vt., will be the culinary art director. Although limited information is currently available on the Social Club's site, you can eventually find more information here.

Belle Du Chene is senior editor of dsm magazine.

Wini Moranville, author of "The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food That French Women Cook Every Day," is a food, wine and travel writer who covers the dining scene for dsm magazine. Follow her at All Things Food DSM - Wini Moranville and catch her food segment on Fridays at 6:40 a.m. on KCWI-23's "Great Day" morning show.
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