Leaving Aquitaine in Espelette:
This is Basque Country, so now would be the time to cook with the famous Espelette pepper from the region:
Calamari with potatoes and piment d’Espelette
250 grams potatoes, cut into small cubes
Salt to taste
200 grams pancetta or streaky bacon, cut into lardons
500 grams small, cleaned calamari, thinly sliced into rings
1 teaspoon piment d’Espelette (or use hot paprika if you cannot find the real thing)
¼ cup clam juice or fish stock
In a small saucepan, cover the diced potatoes with 3 centimetres of cold water and bring to the boil. Lightly salt the potatoes and cook them until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and put aside.
In a large skillet, cook the pancetta over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally until almost crisp, about 7 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the calamari and cook until it turns milky white, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the piment d’Espelette and clam juice and cook for 30 seconds longer. (Take care not to overcook!) Season with salt and serve immediately.
Enjoy this dish with a glass or three of Blanc Fume (The Young Airhawk) from the Nederburg Heritage Heroes range. The piment d’Espelette used here is not too spicy but has enough kick for you to know that it is there. Generally, spices are not a problem for wines, whether in savoury or sweet dishes, as they (contrary to popular belief) do not alter the taste of wine.