Spanish food is all sorts of trendy at the moment, and paprika is a central ingredient in that cuisine.
Sure, you can just use plain old paprika and make some very good dishes, but for a buck or two extra, you can get all hoity-toity with your dinner party guests about what you seasoned their chicken with, and isn't that half the point of having dinner parties?
The Spaniards take their paprika so seriously that they have names for different varieties which, by law, can only be applied to paprika from a specific region -- like what the rest of Europe does with wine and cheese.
The variety I have been using is La Chinata-brand Pimenton de la Vera (not to be confused with Eamon de Valera) which I chose because it was the first can I came across after reading about how Spanish paprika was what all the hip, with-it foodies were using nowadays. The de la Vera variety is made in a region southwest of Madrid, a fact I did not know when I bought it and, as a Barcelona supporter, will have to just overlook.
While most paprika is either hot or smoked, with the smoked tending to be on the sweet side, this is both. And by hot, I mean much hotter than the hot Hungarian paprika that was my go-to before my daughter decided to spread it across the living room carpet. No, this is cayenne hot and needs to be used with a gentle hand, a lesson I learned the hard way the first time I cooked with it.
It is, however, marvelously sharp and has served well in barbecue rubs, chili, tacos and spicy sauteed dishes. I have used pinches of it to give just a touch of warmth to cheese sauces to delightful effect.
I recently saw cans of La Chinata and a couple other fancy Spanish paprikas at TJ Maxx, a store that occasionally has some very good deals on spices.