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Spain's Great Match: Olives From Spain... here in San Francisco! {+ fun ways to serve them!} - Champagne at Shannon's

Spain’s Great Match: Olives From Spain… here in San Francisco! {+ fun ways to serve them!}

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Tis the season… for events!

We all know how important food & wine is to me, right?

Remember here? I have a long history of it. As I was figured out my career path (psh, still am), my earlier days were spent wondering if I wanted to be a chef or a sommelier. I went the wine route, but food has always been a deep passion of mine.

I find the act of cooking therapeutic, and one of my absolute favourite things to do is PAIRING. Not just wine (though love that), but with flavours. The Flavour Bible really is… just that. I love the more daring, unexpected pairings. I find it amplifies the dish in your mouth on a whole ‘nother planet. I really just can’t get enough.

Well… last week, I had the opportunity to play with that with OLIVES.

Olives from Spain to be exact.

I was generously invited to a fun little event here in San Francisco called Spain’s Great Match… all about pairing spanish flavours together. Ummmm, yes plz.

As a guest of Olives From Spain, I started with their table. They teamed up with Canela, a Spanish restaurant here in San Francisco, and had some olives prepared exclusively for this event with some majorly unexpected flavours. I was seriously blown away from it.

TBH, it reallly is the perfect appetizer to entertain with before a Thanksgiving feast.

{ click here to enlarge }

For starters, olives are naturally sugar free, full of all the good fats (monounsaturated – the ones that IMPROVE cholesterol levels),& low calorie.

In fact, most olives here in the US (> 95% of them) are olives from Spain, especially those stuffed with a pimiento.

Spanish olives are ideal since the climate, soil, & weather conditions (aka their terroir – like in wine!) in Spain really are  just perfect for olives as a whole. As far as practices, they are hand picked one by one (!!!!) to maintain the quality aka little damage. { source }

olives-from-spain-champagne-at-shannons-get-up{ from bottom, clockwise: Black Ripe Olives, Queen Olives, Manzanilla Olives }

They were showcasing three different types of Spanish olives – listed from mild to savory.

ONE }: Black Ripe Olives

Did you know that all olives are green & become black as they ripen? These olives are extremely versatile and far less salty / bitter than green olives.

These were served with fresh mint, currants, & orange citrus – a bit unexpected up front, but the black olives really complemented the surrounding flavours & went shockingly well with the orange. The mint left a perfect aftertaste & made you beg for more.

In fact, I’m dying to try a fun play on a dirty martini with one of these babies. Rather than a salty, briny green olive to make it dirty, I’m loving the idea of dousing one in orange bitters at the bottom of a martini glass & serve chilled vodka / gin vourmouth over it & garnished with an orange peel.

TWO }: Queen Olives

Larger than most olives (& frequently stuffed with a pimento), Queen olives are bold, smooth, & nutty.

These were fleshy (sorry, I hate this word, but it describes them well), with a lovely brininess. They were served with julienned apple, goat cheese, and honey.

The sweet flavours complemented the olive well. Like with pairing wine, you can go the complementary or contrast. I’d put the black olives above & the spanish olives below in the complementary category and the Queen olives in the contrast category.

I LOVE a good contrast, especially with flavour.

Each component amplifies the other.

Also, since they were so big &  meaty, you could easily enjoy a bowl of this. I’d personally love it as a small meal, a nice snack between meals, or even dessert (seriously!). Like the above, toss with some goat cheese, apples, crushed walnuts, and a drizzle of honey.

Another recipe idea is to make it like a decronstructed dirty martini. Stuff the olives with some blue cheese or garlic, and toss with a dash of gin (or vodka) & vermouth. Garnish with a lemon twist. For fun, serve it in a martini glass!

THREE }: Manzanilla Olives

We all know how I feel about flavour (more, more, more, more, & more plz), so this should be no surprise. These were the most savory, salty, umami of the bunch.

These manzanilla olives are harvested right at their peak in the ripening period which really lends to their tangy & smokiness (& still not fully ripe, so they preserve the green hue)

At the event, they served it with Spanish Marcona almonds, blue cheese, & pimentos. Honestly, the only thing I would add would be some Iberico ham or bacon to the mix. Majorly complementary is the way to go in my opinion.

A fun way to serve these would be sliced or diced on top of a wedge salad (love me a good wedge) to amp the savoriness!


After sampling the olives, I wandered around some of the booths.

I got to visit the Cheese from Spain table which had a variety of Spanish cheeses – the raw Manchego was my favourite! – as well as plenty of various wine distributors.

I was excited to see Muga, which is one of my favourite riojas.

I also met another cutie San Francisco blogger – Camilla from Allergic to Vanilla – you guys have to check her out, her outfits are adorable!

I was blown away by all the possibilities of Spanish Olives & will absolutely pick some up from my next Instacart order (love Whole Foods antipasto section).

olives-from-spain-champagne-at-shannons-allergictovanilla{ Loved meeting Carlina of Allergic to Vanilla! }

When you are looking to entertain, be sure to consider olives from Spain! They are the perfect companion for your cocktail, cheese board, or accoutrements. The flavour profiles are extremely versatile and the possibilities are endless!

How about you? Any go to olive recipes or fun pairing ideas?? Let me know!

I’m off to Los Angeles (hopefully minus the x-rated nail sesh) for the holiday! If you have any reccs, lay them on me! Is it bad I really want to go to the Beverly Hills Plaza Hotel just so I can get these pajamas?! Want so so so bad.

Currently in less cool pajamas,
Shannon x


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+++ this post was sponsored by Olives at Spain. Thank you sincerely for the invitation – I loved being your guest!
+++ Pic of me & of Carlina via Kent Hanson.

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