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Favorite Kind of Olive

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I've always been an olive lover. When I was a kid, I couldn't get enough of Lindsay black olives. Now that I'm older and have seen more of the world, I've discovered more olives to love. My current favorite is black cerignola olives. They're huge, meaty, and capture everything I like about olives--the right amount of saltiness and freshnesss. I also like green cerignola olives, which are buttery and subtle (compared to some green olives).

Do you have a favorite kind of olive? What do you like most about it and how do you usually eat them? I usually snack on cerignolas plain or put them in tomato and mozzarella caprese salads drizzled with olive oil. So delicious....

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  1. I have never liked olives, but while reading on a Chow board a few months ago, I saw where someones said they loved Castelvetrano olives. I bought some online and love them. The are the nega-olive as far as briny taste. They are smooth and buttery. I ate them straight from the jar and have used them in salads.

    8 Replies
    1. re: bookwormchef

      I have hated olives my whole life until about ten years ago when I had my first marinated Kalamata olive, now I love them...

      1. re: Sean

        Another vote for kalamata's. I served them tonight in individual antipastas with hearts of palm, goat cheese, asparagus tips, and lupini beans, on roasted sweet red peppers, with a drizzle of balsamic and OO. Empty plates tell the story.
        Caution: I included chopped kalamatas one time in chicken salad, and they overwhelmed all other flavors. Delicious as they are, use them sparingly when they are a bit player in dishes.

        1. re: Veggo

          Another for kalmata :) Although sometimes, just regular green olives that aren't too strong can add a nice tangy counterpart to bread and cheese

          1. re: Soop

            Me too on Kalamata's! (oil cured)
            I used to hate them as a kid - even though I loved other kinds of olives, but quite recently I have re-discovered them...I love the oily-ness of them..and the strong salty taste....which goes well with table water crackers.

            They are also very good when baked/broiled.
            I like to scatter them atop chicken cutlets or fish along with halved grape tomatoes - and just grill or bake....they become crunchy and nuttier - and great paired with the sweetness of the carmelized grape tomatoes.
            yummm

      2. re: bookwormchef

        Sounds like it's in the same family as picholine (which are a bit nutty), which is my favorite olive.

        1. re: bookwormchef

          I'm not a big olive fan myself (but I do like black olive tapenade) so I'll have to give the castelvetrano olives a try. Are they readily available at most grocers or do I need to look at a specialty grocer?

          1. re: lynnlato

            castelvetrano's are absolutely to die for.

            that being said of course like most underappreciated and relatively unknown food items, they are also quite difficult to find. gourmet markets or certain italian deli's may carry them.

            i've heard that they can be found at dean & deluca's

            1. re: currentlycraving

              I have to agree on the Castelvetranos. Unfortunately, the few times I've come across them in markets, they've been pretty sad, I think they just don't sell enough to keep the stock rotated. But when they're good, they are wonderful.

        2. Don't know the type of olive, but I love the green ones stuffed with pickled garlic. And those stuffed with anchovies. Really I haven't met an olive that I haven't liked. I'll eat jars of them if I am not careful. My favorite dish to cook them in is a Moroccan chicken w/lemon w/olive dish that I found on epicurious.

          2 Replies
          1. re: viperlush

            Oh! Bandarillos are great! Anchovies wrapped around olives... wow I miss them

            1. re: viperlush

              At my grocery store they have habanero-stuffed jumbo greens. Killer olives! Figuratively and literally.

            2. picholine.

              5 Replies
              1. re: jaykayen

                me, too - picholine are just amazing!! I like kalamatas, too...

                1. re: jeanmarieok

                  Ditto here - picholine for green, kalamata for black.

                  1. re: BobB

                    I can't get just picholines at the olive bar, so I am one of those people who pick thru the mixed olives to the get the ones I want.

                    1. re: jeanmarieok

                      Whole Foods usually has excellent picholines.

                      1. re: BobB

                        Picholine, hands down. I love all olives, but I can eat the small, little green picholine by the bucketful...

              2. Turkish!

                1 Reply
                1. re: sedimental

                  Especially the ones stuffed with pickled lemon.

                2. Of the easily obtainable ones, I like kalamata - but my all-time favourite ones are the very bitter cracked ones you get in markets in Mallorca

                  1. I really like Spanish olives the best. I received a jar of arbequina, empeltre and manzanilla olives from La Tienda at Christmas last year and they didn't last 'til New Year's. If I had to pick one it would be the tiny, nutty flavored arbequinas.

                    1. I like black cerignola and alphonso for eating and nicoise for salads. Calmata for greek salads.

                      1. Alphonsos, for a big, meaty one. Kalamatas, the biggest ones that I can afford, for every day. I guess I'm not much of a green olive person, but I do like Manzanillas and Arbequinas. But here's a real scoop -- I love the Organic Dried Black Olives from Olivico, and get this, they are cured WITHOUT SALT. Like Tuscan bread, it takes some getting used to, but after just a couple, I came to appreciate that olives are fruit, and have their own ageless perfection with nothing added.

                        1. I haven't met too many olives that i didn't love. I usually keep containers of pitted kalamatas and regular green salad olives in the fridge for every day. I like the little nicoise olives as well. If the spiced olives count, I enjoyed a spicy tunisian one I found at a local market a while back.

                          For eating as is, I discovered Olive and Olives lemon-stuffed olives this past year and I am in love with them. I can also eat the almond stuffed olives like they are going out of style.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: im_nomad

                            im_nomad, where do get your Olive and Olives lemon-stuffed olives? I love the combination of green olives and lemon (I'm assuming the olives you're talking about are green). Thanks.

                            P.S. I'm happy to see that I'm in good company. So many olives, so little time...

                            1. re: Gigi007

                              I got mine right in the store, but I think they do mail order:
                              http://www.oliveolives.com/en/flavour...

                              There are other brands of lemon stuffed olives out there too. Oro Verde is also good (I think that's the name)

                              1. re: im_nomad

                                Thanks very much, im_nomad. I think I'm going to turn into an olive. I eat so many of them!

                          2. Anchovie stuffed olives...YUM!!

                            1. I was never a big olive fan until I went to the South of France and tried the olives in Les Baux. They were smaller and not too salty. I enjoyed those olives every day we were there and brought home a jar of them but somehow they didn't taste the same. Maybe the stunning scenery and a cold glass of rose made them taste better!

                              http://www.lesbauxdeprovence.com/baux...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: ms. clicquot

                                I have to say actually, that wine probably would.
                                How about a test? If you can find a deli with non-pitted olives (it's a little more work, but generally pitted olives are not as flavoursome) and a nice fresh, cold white? Something soft like a Sauvignon Blanc?

                              2. Mmmm, I love olives. I use kalamata alot in cooking, and one of my favorite snack are the canned extra large black olives, stuffed with cream cheese. But my favorite olives are those really oily, wrinkly black ones, I don't know the name.

                                11 Replies
                                1. re: schrutefarms

                                  The oily, wrinkly black olives you're talking about might be Moroccan. I too like snacking on canned large black olives, but since I discovered black cerignolas, I've developed a more expensive, but delicious habit! :)

                                  1. re: Gigi007

                                    They look a bit like small prunes.

                                    1. re: schrutefarms

                                      Like these?:

                                      http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3339/3...

                                      1. re: Gigi007

                                        Wow those look good. We have had fun threads about the etiquette of olive pit disposal, and in my experience those with really confident or really bad table manners get the lion's share.

                                        1. re: Veggo

                                          So chipmunks are etiquette experts too? LOL. Those threads sound interesting. Graceful disposal of olive pits can be a challenge. Without getting too graphic, it's possible to nibble on some kinds of olives and get rid of the pit almost without anyone noticing. And olive hogging is just bad form--a real sign of bad manners. I'll admit that olives are so addictive that I sometimes (OK, frequently) pig out on them when I'm by myself, but when I'm eating or drinking w/ others (I love a good glass of wine, yummy cheese plate, and olives on the side), I try to behave. The best is when the other person or people don't like olives. More for me! :)

                                          1. re: Gigi007

                                            At a very early age my parents told me to swallow olive pits. I learned years later that I was an unplanned child.

                                            1. re: Veggo

                                              Haha, that explains a lot!

                                            2. re: Gigi007

                                              When I share anything with my girlfriend, I mentally divide the olives (or whatever) as I might eat faster than her. But I always leave her her half.

                                            3. re: Veggo

                                              I have a couple of Portuguese olive dishes that have a section for you to put the pits in. I love them but only use them with intimates.

                                            4. re: Gigi007

                                              Yes! Those are the ones!

                                              1. re: schrutefarms

                                                Sweet. When you said, they looked like little prunes, I was pretty sure that you were talking about Moroccan oil-cured olives. Delicious little wrinkly things...

                                      2. More olive photos. These are my favorite--black cerignola olives from la bella Italia:

                                        http://www.delallo.com/files/DLBlckBe...

                                        I picked some up this evening along with some lemon-marinated green Sevillana olives from that dangerous market--Dean & DeLuca. They're pretty tasty too.

                                        1. Black or green cerignola.

                                          1. I got some olives stuffed with chiles on Saturday. Each one of them has a chile. I can handle hot food, and I figure no-one's going to put inedibly hot chiles in there, right?

                                            Wrong. Bought tears to my eyes.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Soop

                                              Soop

                                              If they were in jar, I bet they were Turkish Cypriot - I've made that mistake before, as well.

                                              J

                                              1. re: Harters

                                                Well, that's the wierdest thing; they were fresh-typed ones in a plastic tub. Like the kind you'd take on a picnic. I chose them over the usual feta etc accompanied ones, but I bet I'm not the only one to be surprised! With the chile removed they're nice enough, but I do have a small tub full of chiles I probably won't use.

                                                Incidentally, they have that grassy taste reminicent of birdseyes, although I don't think I'd be here now if I'd chewed on one of them. Perhaps a milder relative though?

                                            2. castelvetrano olives might well be the most delicious olives i've ever tasted.
                                              i was actually at the granville island public market (in vancouver) searching for a baguette and some cured meats and cheeses and olives to just kind of snack on, and at an italian deli counter i got to try a variety of olives. i actually shied away from them at first because of their bright green color, but i asked the counterperson for a less briny, more fruity and buttery olive and she suggested i try the castelvetranos.
                                              well now my only issue is that my entire family won't stop eating them all the time!

                                              the best way to describe it is that it tastes like really good extra virgin olive oil, with a slight hint of saltiness but a far cry from this olive's briny counterparts. it's a burst of fruity flavour, very mild and quite buttery and its very hard to keep your hands out of the tub, SO DELICIOUS

                                              1. Brand-wise: Graber olives. Never been a fan of olives in a can (no love here for canned black olives), but I think I read about these in a Chow post and had to try. Fat, buttery, meaty, addictive. First taste, I thought that they just didn't seem right, but by the third olive I was a convert.

                                                Whole Foods carries them at just less than USD $6/can around here (Texas).

                                                http://www.graberolives.com/

                                                1. I love all olives, in so many ways, but my favorite way to enjoy them are some nice, ripe kalamata olives on a wonderfully delicious mediterranean salad composed of mixed greens, roma tomatoes, red onions, peperoncini peppers, artichoke hearts, homemade garlic croutons, feta cheese with a light dash of a pesto vinaigrette . :)

                                                  1. Favorite kind of olive?
                                                    Well, ALL of them.
                                                    But specifically, I think the Graber olive is a fabulous invention, and the Kalamata olive in all its various forms comes closest to the ideal of olive flavor.

                                                    1. For straight up eating I love Nicoise olives. For most other purposes, including martinis, I'm parshul to kalamatas. Bitter, oil-cured olives and spiced olives in oil--both from the Med/Middle East--are also delicious.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                        +1 nicoise. I am frankly surprised that this got to 50 posts before they were mentioned. Picholine, too.

                                                      2. Lucques olives. Firm and buttery. I love salty, briny olives too, but these are are different and addictive eaten just plain.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: BigSal

                                                          I second lucques. I have given these to professed olive haters and they have even liked them. Lucques are mild and lack the strong saltiness of other olives. I only wish they were bigger!

                                                          Having said that, I have rarely met an olive sold in a good olive bar that I didn't like. Good olives have completely spoiled me though for the cheap ones sold in jars.

                                                        2. Incidentally, do olive trees grow well anywhere in the US?

                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                            California - they make oil but I haven't seen table olives from there myself.

                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                              I remember a neighbor always stopping at an olive store in California where they sold olives they grew, I think it was called the Olive Pit. She always brought back so many jars, she really loved them. Not so many different varieties of olives but olives stuffed with so many different things.

                                                              1. re: runwestierun

                                                                Whereabouts? Napa?

                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                  Sonoma Valley, IIRC.

                                                                  1. re: Karl S

                                                                    The Olive Pit is a fabulously fun place with a lot of olive products, though few of them are cheap.
                                                                    It is on Interstate 5 north of Sacramento, about an hour or so, in the town of Corning. Definitely worth a visit if you are passing through.

                                                                    The site is
                                                                    www.olivepit.com
                                                                    and the number is
                                                                    1-800-Olive Pit
                                                                    Check it out.

                                                                    1. re: Tripeler

                                                                      Ah, I was confusing Olive Pit with Olive Press, which I have visited.

                                                            2. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                              PK, my bro has a geen olive tree in his yard in Vegas
                                                              My fave is the oil cured.

                                                            3. Nyons - those little black slightly bitter salty things - yum! like candy. also Kalamatas. and Castelvetranos. But yeah, i've been known to eat plain old supermarket black olives right out of the can.

                                                              1. Just wanted to shout out the excellent olive bar at Wegman's, the best I've seen. The bright green cerignola olives are not oily, just pure olive goodness.