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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Penna Olives

One of the things that I introduced to my in laws and (less so, because he'd already had exposure in Turkey) Rich was my love of briny, sour olives. Olives were part of just about every meal at my house growing up, they weren't reserved for relish trays or cocktails or dinners. Rich and I share, and now our children do, too, a love of pickled anything.

So, I was thrilled when a friend from a cooking group told me about an opportunity to test olive and pickled products from Penna Olives. Our box arrived a little while ago with four products in it:

There were Spicy Pickled Beans, Sicilian Spiced Pitted Olives, Olivaseca, and Dirty Martini Mix, which is their mother brine, triple filtered, from curing olives. When I looked up the products on their website, I was pleasantly surprised at the prices, too. Normally products like these at our grocery stores are priced higher, sometimes as much as double.

The beans were absconded with by Rich and the kids and mostly eaten before I had a chance to think of what to do with them in the kitchen. They are garlicky and have a nice heat to them, but best of all, they really are crisp. There are no floppy beans in these jars. I have a few left that I am thinking of adding to my Slow Sauteed Green Beans later this week.

Martinis aren't my favorite drink, as I despise gin, so the Dirty Martini Mix was used in my Hamburger Stew a couple weeks ago, in place of the water. I made a huge batch for us and some friends, and it really added a little something to the dish. It wasn't overpowering, which I had worried about initially. It took a rather humble dish and elevated it just a little to something more special.

We haven't eaten a lot of the Sicilian olives, mostly because we thought we'd save them for our Thanksgiving relish tray and see how our guests like them. We enjoyed the flavor, they weren't spiced as they typically are, in my experience, but they were quite tasty. The other olives, the Olivaseca, were really our favorites, though. I have plans to make an olive bread with these, to keep myself from eating them all without sharing. I'll post the results when I have made it.

You (and any author or company who has asked for it) know that I am brutally honest in my reviews. These are definitely products I would buy for our family, as gifts, and I wish our stores carried them. I am scheduled to receive some more products to try from them, some olives to cure, and I'm really excited about that. I've wanted to cure olives for some time. One thing I really appreciate about Penna is how open they are to the idea that taste is subjective. In the materials I received from them, they specifically included instructions on rebrining the olives, should the flavor not suit us. It was refreshing to see that, and helpful to learn how simple it really was to change the flavors of the olives. I'll definitely be ordering from them, and if you know us, you may see some at Christmas this year.

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