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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Sunday, March 3

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Ingredient Tue Mar 18 2008

That Seductive Red Powder

Pulpo GallegoWhen I saw the deep red powder in a big glass jar, I couldn't resist. Even in the dimness of the Spice House, the Spanish smoked sweet paprika (pimenton) was beautiful, its red somewhere between a court lady's lipstick and the blood of her lover. I only knew one dish to use this visually seductive spice, but nonetheless I picked up a bottle of it.

Pulpo Gallego is a simple Galician dish: boiled octopus and potatoes dressed with a copious amount of olive oil. Pimenton is what gives the kick to this very simple tapa. The bottle sat in my spice rack (a repurposed eyesore of a CD shelf that my partner bought many moons ago) for a while before I acquired a decent bunch of baby octopuses. I boiled them up with enough salt to give a cardiologist several heart attacks, added potatoes after an hour, and when they were done, placed them on two plates. Then went the drizzles of olive oil, fresh-ground black pepper, and of course, generous shakes of pimenton.

Which blew me away. Upon touching the warm olive oil, the pimenton released an incredibly intense, smokey flavor that hit my nostrils like a real smoke coming out of a well-used barbecue pit somewhere in Alabama. It was lucky that my partner was standing right by the kitchen counter, opening a beer. The aroma bursted with an incredible force, and was gone in a few seconds, leaving only a faint trace of its real potency.

It is not to say that the pimenton rendered the dish flavorless; on the contrary, it added just the right amount of smokey kick to the olive oil laced with crushed garlic (a heretical touch I added). It was wonderful. And I should add, for the sake of honesty, that I'm pea-brainedly pleased with the rich, passionate red of the spice adds some luster to my ramshackle spice rack, despite the spice merchant's recommendation to store it in the fridge.

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racgel / March 19, 2008 1:24 AM

pimenton is most definitely high on the list.
this stuff is amazing.
in fact, i made dark chocolate truffles tonight and shook a little pimenton along with cinnamon into the cocoa powder to roll the chocolate. so incredible.
i think this should be a staple in everyone's pantry.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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