I used to hate olives. Hated them in salads, hated them on pizza. And the idea of drinking a martini with olives? Yech.
Then I realized I had only really tasted bad olives. Those canned nasty little black things that are diced, sliced and completely flavorless, save for the salt.
Fortunately, I have been saved from olive ignorance by small producers and merchants who have created morsels of brined deliciousness.
Lately I’ve been on an olive quest, tasting and savoring olives pickled, brined and flavored from all over the world. Our little apartment in La Jolla is close to a Middle Eastern market where I recently tried small, black, dry-cured olives hailing from Morocco. They are meaty and tangy, delicious with a salad with a strongly acidic salad dressing or with a buttery Spanakopita.
At the farmer’s market in Santa Barbara today, I discovered an olive producer from Paso Robles that makes Chipotle/Adobo French Oak Smoked Olives (www.fusanoolives.com). These are wonderfully garlicky, spicy, tangy, smoky bites that would be perfect for serving with a glass of Sangiovese or Tempranillo right before dinner.