11 Jul

There’s a lot of good with olives

By Judith W. Winne,

Olives have a rich history. They go way back.

Olive trees are among the oldest cultivated trees in the world, grown before written language was invented, according to the Web site oliveoilsource. The site notes that olive oil anointed early kings of the Greeks and the Jews, as well as triumphant athletes.

Olives are key ingredients in green and leafy salads, as well as cold pastas. They are also wonderful as art of a delicious antipasto — roasted peppers, prosciutto, a nice provolone or fresh mozzarella and some great olives.

So what’s good?
It’s kind of like asking what flavor ice cream is worth buying. If all you know is green and black, pitted and unpitted, canned or jarred, you’re missing some big tastes.

You may want to start by visiting a store with a vast olive selection. At the Wegmans in Mount Laurel and Cherry Hill, the olive bar is stocked with dozens of varieties. One row has all the pitted olives, the other the olives with pits.

Descriptions for good olives read like explanations of wine or cheese, complex and vivid in their specificity.

Check out the description for Barnier Hot Tunisian Mix olives: “Meaty green and black olives enlivened with pepper, spices, hot pimientos and zesty lemon slices. Spicy with a sweet undertone of cinnamon.”

Or Alfonso: “Large, soft and fleshy olives with a vibrant purple hue. Sweet and tart with a winey flavor.”

Details for the Black Cerignola describe an olive grown in “fertile volcanic soil” in Italy.

At this Mediterranean food bar, where the products hail from Greece, Italy, France, Spain and Chile, there are olives stuffed with almonds or anchovies. There are pitted green olives in a garlic marinade and olives in zesty red pepper flakes or herbs de Provence. Some olives come already chopped, ready to spread on a crusty muffaletta sandwich stuffed with savory meats and provolone.

What makes these olives better than the kind you find in jars and cans?
“There’s no sulfites,” says Karin Ringwald, manager of the Mount Laurel store’s cheese department, which includes the olive section. “It’s all natural. And we know where these olives come from . . . It’s the flavor. You can taste the freshness.”

Debbie Adamita heads the olive section and is so fond of olives she cannot pick a favorite, calling them her “babies.” She loves oil-cured olives in tuna.

Ringwald says olives are terrific additions to sauces, providing “a little character, a little depth.”

Looking for something to try? Bite into a kalamata. “You have that fresh, clean, buttery flavor,” says Ringwald.

[Source] Click here