05 Apr

Introduce yourself to a nearby olive bar

By Karen Fernau,

Olives are so much more than a martini garnish.

olive-bar.jpgThey add easy, intense flavor to pasta dishes, baked bread, as toppings for seafood and in salads. Which olives taste best is personal. Flavors range from tangy, winey and fruity to spicy and tart.

Olives come packed with fat, but the “good” monounsaturated kind. Ten medium black olives have 50 calories and 4 grams of fat.

Today, many grocers, including Whole Foods, Safeway, Fry’s, Sunflower Market and AJ’s Fine Foods, offer well-stocked olive bars with global varieties. The advantage is mixing and matching, or buying just a few olives at a time.

Here are a few varieties to try:

• Mount Athos green with Sicilian herbs: A Greek olive flavored with herbs such as rosemary, mustard seed, garlic, red pepper flakes. Use in salads, tapenade and for bruschetta topping.

• Lucques: From France, this bright green olive has a mild, buttery taste. Great for snacking.

• Alfonsos: A Chilean olive similar to kalamata, it has a robust flavor. Serve with cheese, salami or roasted vegetables.

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