The best olives and oil come from a fresh and slow process of curing the olives with brine for at least six months. Once the olive has softened it can then be eaten or turned into spreads and oils. Here is a recipe for an olive spread that you might enjoy!
Le Tapenade (adapted from Erick Vedel of Cuisine Provencale)
Serves 6 to 8
1 pound good quality black pitted olives (preferably Kalamata)
1 large garlic clove, peeled
Juice of 1/2 lemon
4 to 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 anchovy filets (salt-cured, from a can or jar)
2 tablespoons capers
Pinch of bay leaf, ground into a powder
Fresh thyme leaves (about 1 tablespoon)
Prepare the olives: Rinse off the olives to remove some of their natural saltiness; drain well.
Prepare the garlic puree: squeeze the lemon juice on a small plate with a sprinkle of salt. Take a sharp pronged fork and, holding the prongs flat on the plate, grate the garlic clove back and forth over the tips of the prongs. This will produce a fine puree, lightly cured by the acid of the lemon juice. (This same technique is great for taking the bite out of raw garlic in vinaigrettes or purees.)
Prepare the anchovies: Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small frying pan over medium high heat. Add your anchovy filets and stir with a fork, lightly mashing the filets to dissolve them in the oil. Let bubble slightly for just a moment. Remove from the flame and add the pureed garlic. Return to the heat for just 30 seconds; remove and let cool slightly.
Add the drained olives, capers, anchovy mixture, the remaining olive oil, bay leaf powder, and fresh thyme to a food processor. Pulse until smooth, gradually adding the remaining olive oil as needed.
Serve room temperature with toasted slices of bread and fresh goat cheese with pre-dinner drinks. This mixture is also delicious on roasted fish or chicken. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.