Celebrating the one and only savoury berry
Ever since moving to Nice – and with Apricale on my doorstep – olives have become a big part of my life, which has taken on a distinctly Mediterranean flavour over the years. But everywhere you go, from Greece to Portugal, each region claims to have the best olives in the world, and a unique way of preserving them to boot, which means the world of olives is (almost) as diverse and multi-layered as the world of wine – complete with terroirs and nuanced tasting notes. And the more you explore the world’s olive trails, the more you realise how diverse this little berry really is.
One thing I don’t like to admit I never knew about olives is that black olives are merely ripe olives, and that green olives are (you guessed it) still unripe. Why this matters is because black olives will be inherently sweeter. If you’ve ever tried olive oil made of black olives, you’ll know what I mean – much less peppery and unmistakably sweet. Green olives tend to have a more sour taste. But no matter how ripe, all olives are naturally bitter, which is why they are cured. Words like Halkidiki and Kalamata, then, have nothing to do with the type of olive used and everything to do with the way the olive was cured.
Olives can be packed in salt or sundried, but are always steeped in a brine or oil solution for months before they’re perfect for eating. Some olives are prepared according to the industrial method where they are preserved in a lye solution that renders them edible in less than a day. But as with all things, quality is worth waiting for, as too much flavour is lost this way. And when cooking with olives, as with wine, the dish will only be as good as the olive…
OLIVE CHEESE STRAWS
TIME: 45 minutes | MAKES: 15
Heat the oven to 180 °C . Place a 400 g sheet puff pastry on your work surface. Brush the pastry with 1 beaten egg. Top with 100 g finely grated parmesan cheese and 100 g grated mature cheddar cheese. Drain a 290 g bottle Forage and Feast Pitted Kalamata Olives. Roughly chop the olive and sprinkle on one half of the pastry. Fold over and press down. Cut the pastry into strips, twisting each strip. Place the strips on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush with egg, pop in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
BACON WRAPPED CAMEMBERT CHEESE TOPPED WITH OLIVES
TIME: 20 minutes | SERVES: 4 – 6
Heat the oven to 180 °C. Wrap 2 streaky bacon rashers around a 250 g wheel of camembert cheese. Secure the end pieces of the bacon with toothpicks. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Stick small pieces of fresh rosemary into the cheese. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Take out and top with as many Forage and Feast Whole Kalamata Olives as you like. Serve with crispy crostini breads or any bread of your choice.
MARINATED GREEN OLIVES
TIME: 2 hours | SERVES: 4 – 6
Drain 1 bottle Forage and Feast Whole Halkidiki Green olives. Place the olives in a bowl. Add 100 g chopped walnuts, 12 finely chopped mint leaves, 15 ml finely chopped flat leaf parsley, 15 ml finely chopped dill and finely grated zest of 1 lemon. Add 90 ml olive oil and 15 ml maple syrup. Mix well and let the olives marinate for at least 2 hours before serving.
TIME: 30 minutes | SERVES: 4 – 6
Drain a 290 g bottle of Forage and Feast Halkidiki Green Olives. Dry with kitchen towel. Place 70 g (125 ml) cake flour in a bowl. Cover the olive with the flour. Whisk 2 eggs in another bowl and dip the olives in the egg. Place 100 g Panko crumbs in a bowl and roll the olives in the crumbs. Repeat the process. Heat 250 ml canola oil in saucepan to medium heat. Fry the olives (not all at the same time) until crispy and golden. Drain on kitchen towel.
TIME: 15 minutes | SERVES: 2
Strip the leaves of 2 rosemary sprigs halfway. Insert 3 Forage and Feast Halkadiki Green Olives on each sprig. Place your martini glasses in the deep freeze at least 5 minutes before serving. For 2 martinis, pour 60 ml gin and 60 ml vermouth in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake (do not stir) and pour into the cold glasses. Serve with the olives and a lemon twist.