Top | Toro Bravo
(recipe, Liz Crain & John Gorham)
I hated olives until I was 24 years old. Another cook at Café Zenon said, "Hey, do you want to taste some olive bread?" I thought she said challah bread, and I was really busy, so I said, "Yeah," and popped it in my mouth without looking. When I realized what it was I said, "Oh, gross." She looked at me incredulously and said, "How the fuck are you going to be a chef and not like olives?" And I remember thinking, "You’re right. How the fuck am I going to be a chef and not like olives?" Every day after that, I’d eat five olives as soon as I got to work. I thought, "I’m just going to have to make myself like olives." There was a day I thought, "Oh, I like this type, I like Picholines." And next I thought, "Oh, these are good. I like Niçoise." When you get to the point when you like kalamatas, you know you’ve arrived at fully loving olives. You can definitely train yourself to like foods. I did. Get a jar of anchovy-stuffed Manzanilla olives for our tapenade. Manzanillas have such a unique flavor, and that combined with the anchovy really makes this tapenade special. If you don’t have them, then make it with regular Manzanillas and throw in a vinegar boquerone. I like tapenade on so many different foods. We use it on the toasts we serve with Radicchio Salad. People like our tapenade so much that they regularly order the toast on its own. It’s that good.
If you smash the olives first with the blade of your knife, it’s much easier to finely dice them, and you won’t lose so many.