I often grouse about the lack of ingredients available locally so I feel it is my duty to report that we now have an olive and antipasto bar at the local Italian market.
The store has always carried an impressive array of pasta and sauces and olives and all the accoutrements of Italian cooking. Its pizza section is huge, and there's a nice little "gourmet" area that includes the basics of French cooking, too. It has never been difficult to adopt a Mediterranean-style approach to cooking and we have gladly done so.
The Italian market just got better. As soon we heard the olive bar was up, my husband and I hightailed it over there to sample the wares.
What a feast for the eyes as well as the palate: Black Nicoise, green Picholene, jumbo Calamata, medleys and mixes of every color and origin. Olive heaven. I bought a medley with garlic (above) and green olives stuffed with blue cheese.
I had a mixed reaction to the latter. Yes, they are two fabulous flavors, but they seemed at war with one another. Too much salt for one thing. I tried stuffing blue cheese into black olives and did not like that either.
(Stuffing black olives with cream cheese was the chore Grandma Annie gave me before family holiday dinners when I was a child. The taste may be a bit bland, but it's still my favorite. The creaminess of the cheese is a good foil for the saltiness of the olive.)
Up here on the tundra, a new olive bar that provides hints of sunnier climates and more opportunities to create Provencal and Tuscan dishes is something to celebrate in winter.