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GREEK GOODNESS: KALAMATA OLIVES

GREEK GOODNESS: KALAMATA OLIVES

Greek produce has a long history of being all about the beautiful sunshine that helps grow it. Greek olives are well known through out the world, as is the olive oil that they produce.Kalamata is in fact a city – Greece’s second most populous city and lies along the Nedon River at the head of the Messenian Gulf. With a temperature that doesn’t go much lower than 10 degrees in winter it makes for fine growing conditions

The Kalamata olive is a protected variety in the European Union meaning that only Kalamata olives can be labelled as that and have to grown in the region of Kalamata. As an edible fruit the olive tree has been cultivated for some 6000 years around the Mediterranean were the olive is native to. Very slow growers, olive trees can live for hundreds of years but there are said to be a few trees in the Mediterranean that are over 2,000 years old.

Black olives are picked at full maturity having allowed the sun to work its magic. Naturally green are unripe while other coloured olives are just at various stages of ripeness. When eaten raw or fresh olives are not the nicest at all – bitter and tart, they need the curing process to mellow those flavours out. Curing takes several months when done naturally with just salt or a brine made from salt and the like most curing processes it involves both bacteria and yeast. In a traditional cure of salt or brine the fruit itself will ferment which causes the leach of oleuropein and other unpalatable phenolic compounds in the olive. It also generates other good metabolites from the yeast and bacteria such as acids and probiotics which will affect the final taste of the olive itself. Like most things natural slower curing process gives much better flavour and an olive that still has a great deal of texture.
Harvesting is done in winter with Spain taking out the winner of largest production number and Greece third on the list before Italy. Greece produces 2,000,000 tons of olives annually and it is said that a very large proportion of that goes of shore to feed the olive loving countries around the world.

BURRATA AND KALAMATA TAPENADE BRUCHETTA

250g kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
2 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
3 tsp capers, drained
2 Tbsp best quality extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp very finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 Wild Wheat French Stick, sliced to 1/2-inch thickness
Massimo’s fresh burrata cheese, sliced 1cm thick

To make the olive tapenade, first combine the olives, anchovies, garlic, and capers in a food processor and pulse 5-6 times only. Add the olive oil, mustard, lemon juice, thyme, and parsley and process another couple of times until chunky. Arrange the pieces of bread on a baking sheet and brush one side of each piece with olive oil. Approximately 15 minutes before serving, toast the bread until golden brown in the oven, about 8 minutes total making sure to flip them once halfway through. On each of the slices of toast, spread the burrata and top with your desired amount of tapenade.