Monday, November 9, 2009

RAVE: Nicoise-Coquillo Olives

I first heard about this olive on the PBS program Spain On the Road Again, that follows the travels and feasting of  an American cook who lived there as a youth (Mario Batali), an American actress (Gwyneth Paltrow), an American food writer (Mark Bittman), and a stunningly beautiful Spanish TV actress who trained partly at UNC-Wilmington and who worked in the US (Claudia Bassols). They were joined in this episode set in Barcelona by American composer, singer, and friend of Paltrow, the neurasthenic Michael Stipe.

They spent the better part of the evening tapas tasting at the "best tapas restaurant in the World" in the company of the couple who founded and operate the place. The husband is apparently an icon in the Spanish cooking hagiography and is a damn fine cook, quiet leader and inspiring teacher of sous, waitstaff, etc. by the looks of it.

One of the many courses was a selection of olives. As one who grew up with pitted ripe California olives on his fingers, this was an eye opener. So many kinds! So many flavors and curing and spicing. I was most engaged by tiny olives that are mottled green-brown-black. The pits seem almost as large as the fruits. The flesh is a bit spicy, sour, and fruity. They are often available on the Mediterranean appetizer bar at a Durham megamart. An essential component of
salade nicoise (salad in the Nice fashion).

A warm olive assortment is a nice way to dress up a plain breakfast of creamy cottage cheese and buttered rye toast.