With the festive season almost in full swing, and if you are planning on entertaining (while adhering to COVID protocols, of course), consider preparing an appetising cheese and charcuterie board as a perfect summery and Christmassy dish. A typical cheese and charcuterie board consists of an array of cured meats, a variety of soft and hard cheeses, raw veggies, nuts, crackers or lightly toasted bread and of course some delicious olives and olive products. Olives are the perfect accompaniment to any dish, and of course they’re also great on their own.
Picking out the best local table olives is what makes this perfect, but how do you go about choosing the right ingredients? We chatted to olive expert Linda Costa who gave us a few tips on picking the best olives, and we came up with the T.A.S.T.E. acronym to help us remember this valuable advice.
T for Taste
Olives are certainly multipurpose and can be used in an array of dishes such as spreads, salads and cocktails. Olive flavours can be bitter, or sweet and/or salty. Once olives have undergone a slow, natural lactic acid fermentation, the flavours should become wonderfully integrated and not taste too acidic.
A for Appearance
Table olives should have visual appeal in that they should have a good uniform size and good healthy colour. They should also be quite firm to the touch and not mushy, discoloured or bruised. The skin should be smooth and shiny.
S for Smell
Although the aroma of table olives is not often spoken about, this also plays an important culinary role. Any aroma should be clean and attractive, with any added herbs and spices being just sufficient to add to, rather than overpower, the overall aroma of the olives.
T for Texture
A good olive will have a firm flesh, but not a rough texture on the palate. The flesh should detach from the pit quite readily. A naturally fermented olive will be microbiologically stable and its texture will be preserved without the need for additional acidity.
E for Experience
Table olives are fantastically diverse and equally versatile so don’t be shy in adding all kinds of olive products to your board and Christmas table. Whether you are stuffing them, eating them au natural, using spreads and tapenades, tossing them into salads or plopping then into your martinis, the sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent flavours of table olives are an essential ingredient in any home cook’s arsenal. They’re the perfect addition to your Christmas feasts. Enjoy the experience!
Be Inspired !