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Peppers spice West Coast Basque cuisine

Be they red, yellow or orange, colored peppers are one of the rising stars of the food world.


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At Piperade, Chef Gerald Hirigoyen's heart and soul can be found. A former pastry chef, he has found success going back to his roots and today his beloved restaurant is a fitting tribute to his ancestry. The restaurant serves delicious Basque dishes inspired by his homeland, right in the middle of the thriving metropolis known as San Francisco.

"I'm really happy to represent the Basque cuisine here. I wish there were a few more of us but there's not that many anymore," Hirigoyen said. "So we really are proud here at Piperade to showcase the cuisine of the Basque region."

As is the tradition in Basque culture, a large shepherds' table is the centerpiece of this festive restaurant, where a jubilant spirit is dressed up with urban flair. Featuring what Chef Gerald has coined West Coast Basque cuisine, the menu mixes tradition with inventiveness.

From grilled lamb chops marinated in thyme and vinegar to grilled cod with chorizo and potatoes, this place bursts with California ingredients that begin and end with the No. 1 ingredient here: peppers. Starting with their signature dish, piperade--which is cooked with peppers, Serrano ham and a poached egg--the restaurant depends on these colorful pieces of produce for a variety of dishes.

And to find vegetables as unique as the restaurant, one goes to the desert. In the wide-open space of the Coachella Valley, thanks to ample water from the underground and initiative of one man, there's a thriving pepper-growing enterprise. Davidi Compton had seen firsthand in his native Israel that greenhouses allowed you to grow perfect produce in the offseason and he supervised building this undercover operation.

Pride is evident in each and every pepper found at Prime Time International. It has 41 acres under cover, with 100,000 plants producing more than 40 tons per acre.

Be it red, yellow, or orange-- colored peppers are one of the rising stars of the food world. Americans now eat twice the amount of peppers they did 20 years ago, which brings a smile to people like Compton, who make a special contribution to your produce aisle.

So whether it is the large, arid deserts of California or the large plates of hearty, home-style Basque cuisine, peppers add a little spice to a lot of people's lives.

For more information about Piperade, please visit www.piperade.com.

For more information about Prime Time International, visit www.primetimeproduce.com.


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