Precious Gem of an Olive

Wouldn’t it be great if, just by reading this post, you could actually taste the food I am about to describe?  Then you would know how really wonderful it is, and that it would be worth it to do the legwork and go to the expense of gathering the necessary components for the recipe to follow.  It’s hard to imagine that this kind of development could ever be realized, but then, who (of my generation) would have believed that we would one day be able to  call home from an airplane in order to turn on the oven or use our brainwaves to control a computer?

For today, you’ll just have to rely on the power of faith and believe that you probably would love these olives.  If you don’t live in Toronto or London, Ontario, I am sorry.  Even if you do live in Toronto, there are only two stores that carry the rare and little-known Caraffa olive.  You’ll have to make your way to Pusateri’s or Highland Farms to acquire this ambrosial treasure.  They are made in London, Ont., according to an old family recipe, developed by Filippo Franze of the commune of Caraffa del Bianco in Calabria.  Marinated in oil, oregano and chili pepper, they hit the perfect piquancy.  Having 75% less salt than the norm might account for their unique character; they are meaty, assertive, and robust, without the briney distraction.  And a little pricey too.  Delicious in pasta, great as an app on toasted baguette, and divine when served canapé-style, as here, with cheese and roasted tomato.

The sheep’s cheese, from Monforte Dairy (of Stratford, Ontario) is a Pecorino Fresco and available in Toronto at several of the Farmers’ Markets.  It has the sparkling freshness of a ricotta as well as the character of a riper age.  Perhaps a Bocconcini or a Chevre could be substituted, but I can’t vouch for it.   Everything sits on top of a wafer called a ‘Waterthin’.  The creaminess of the cheese, the meatiness of the olive, the tang of the tomato, the crunch of the cracker all add up to a greater-than-the-sum-of-parts….…Synergy personified.

Recipe:  Caraffa Olive Canapés 

Makes 60

10 oz. grape tomatoes
1 round Pecorino Fresco, Monforte Dairy
1 box Waterthins
1 jar Caraffa olives (see sources cited above)

Roasted Tomatoes, Pecorino Fresco

Halve the tomatoes, toss with a bit of olive oil, and roast at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.
Arrange on crackers a piece each of olive, cheese, and tomato.
These should be made as close as possible to serving time so that the wafers don’t get soggy.

Obviously, if you aren’t having a party, you won’t need to make 60.  Maybe just a dozen for the four of you.  You could use the rest of the cheese for a caprese salad or in a sandwich.

Caraffa Olive Canapés

Try adding the olives to broccoli and garlic, flash-fried, al dente, for a delectable side dish.

Fennel complements them perfectly and these added to pasta with carrots, tomatoes, peppers, and garlic can result in a sumptuous supper with minimal prep time.

Although referring to olives of a different time and place, Lawrence Durrell said it so well in his book “Prospero’s Cell”, written during WWII about the island of Corfu……(pardon the rhyme)……

The whole Mediterranean, the sculpture, the palm, the gold beads, the bearded heroes, the wine, the ideas, the ships, the moonlight, the winged gorgons, the bronze men, the philosophers -all of it seems to rise in the sour, pungent taste of these black olives between the teeth. A taste older than meat, older than wine. A taste as old as cold water.  

This entry was posted in canapés, cheese, olives, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Precious Gem of an Olive

  1. Maureen says:

    Thanks Alphonse, yes, what a great looking

  2. I’m often looking for an appetizer that’s not too hard to make when I invite guests over. A good idea for my next dinner party!

  3. Maureen says:

    The results are in: I now deem it Mandatory to use the Pecorino Fresco from Monforte Dairy. (You can get it at the Wychwood Green Barns Farmers’ Market on Sat. morning.) Today I made a round of the canapés, substituting Bocconcini and they were bland, bland, bland. You have been warned.
    And don’t let them sit for long before serving. I realize it might seem all too precious and it is.
    If you follow the recipe faithfully, I think you will be very pleased. And I’d love to know what you think when you do.
    Thanks Karen.

  4. Pingback: Cryptoquote Spoiler – 09/03/11 « Unclerave's Wordy Weblog

  5. Filippo says:

    Caraffa Olives are great and as previously stated alittle too expensive. For those at home that are daring enough try this out…take raw green olives and remove the pitts. soak in a sea salt and water mixture for 24 hours or until the water takes on a dark brown colour. Change the water and repeat the previous step…continue to do this until the bitterness is gone from the olive. usually 3 or 4 times. when the olives have lost their bitterness you must press//squeeze them to remove the water from the olive. (this is what keeps the olives crisp and not soggy like other olives) once the olives have been pressed put them into a large container mix in salt, olive or vegetable oil, chopped chilli peppers, oregano and chopped garlic. Mix this well and there you have it your own homemade olives. (when soaking the olives use large containers so that you can cover them totally with the salt water . Using a 5 gallon bucket works best and be sure to place a plate or a sanitary object ontop of the olives to ensure they stay submerged in the water. When seasoning the olives its strictly a taste thing…start off with a modest amount of the ingredients and ask you mix taste and adjust the flovour to your liking.

    Althought this is a long process those who like to jar their own foods will save a large amount of money doing it this way as 1 case of raw olives will cost you around $40 and all the other ingredients wil cost you around $10 or so. This means you could make 24 gourmet size jars that would cost you close to $200 for only $50.

    • Maureen says:

      I have thought of trying this before… your comment brings me that much closer to the attempt…..but I’m wondering, what would be the salt-to-water ratio? I have seen the raw green olives available here at some markets in the fall, although I can’t imagine ‘putting up’ that quantity……perhaps I could start with just a few pounds. Would I have to get into the whole sterilizing-the-jar thing, as one must in other preserving activities? Thanks for your comment Filippo, and I hope you can advise me further.

  6. William says:

    FYI, Lady York foods on Dufferin carries them in jars and in bulk at the deli counter. They are a staple of ours.

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