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Tuesday
Nov132012

An Italian Thanksgiving Antipasto - Part 2

Did you know Calamata olives are Greek? They are.

In order to properly continue our platter in Italian fashion (started with bread), we need to have Italian olives. I chose two different types as they are polar opposites in the olive department, taste-wise.

The first are large, Cerignola olives. Green, meaty and mild, these are almost like eating a small almost-ripe nectarine in texture. They are slightly salty, but hover at a 2 on the 1-10 ranking of saltiness (10 being the most salty).

My second choice were small Sicilian olives. These little devils are pitted and punchy on the saltiness scale, ranking at an 8 in my book.

Side note: I don't know if there are any other "books" on ranking relative olive saltiness. I'm just telling you how I feel about it.

I chose them because I wanted one salty olive and one mild to pair with some other items I've got coming your way, notably cheeses, fruit and nuts.

Now, you could stop here. Throw these olives in a bowl and have on it with. Or you could take it one step further...and marinate.

I chose to marinate (of course I did). Here's how you do it:

What You Need (also listed in the above artwork):

2 cups mixed olives (your choice, but you should really take my recommendation...)

Half an orange, quartered and thinly sliced into wedges

Half a cup extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1 Tablespoon chili oil (optional)

2 bay leaves

A sprinkle of red pepper flakes

What You Do:
Place the mixed oil-packed olives in a bowl with the orange. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the extra-virgin olive oil, garlic cloves, chili oil (if using), bay leaves, and the red pepper flakes. Cook until fragrant and garlic begins to brown, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let steep for 1 hour. Pour oil mixture over olives and stir to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 2 hours, or cover and chill up to 4 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Based on a recipe from Bon Appetit.

Now don't run away so fast! I'd like to give you two cheese options to pair with these fabulous olives. I suggest you obtain a Robiola Bosina, which is a soft, almost Brie-ish in consistency cheese. It's a mix of goat and cow milk, so the goat-cheesy flavor on this variety is mild.

I also recommend a Pecorino Foglie di Noce, slightly soft but very salty, this cheese is such a treat, I can hardly compliment it enough! It's fabulous with a little honey, or orange marmalade on top.

Both of these cheeses pair well with the olives, marinated or no.

So, let's recap:

First, toast some BREAD.

Then get some olives and MARINATE.

Have some honey and/or orange marmalade (the orage flavor will be fabulous with the citrus in the olive marinade)

And stand by for Part the THIRD...coming soon.