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Friday, August 28, 2020

Tasty Tapenade

                         Tapenade served with local Pastis at Julia Child’s villa in Provence 

I am a raving fan of tapenade.   A popular olive spread in the south of France for centuries, typical Provençal tapenade is made with olives, olive oil, anchovies, capers, garlic, and herbs of Provence---all pulverized into a puree of spreadable yumminess.  Although it’s closely associated with Provence today, the first tapenade just might have been invented by the Italians.

Olive spreads have been referenced in ancient Roman cookbooks for nearly 2,000 years.  A written recipe for an olive-caper spread appeared in 150 BC in a book written by Cato (a Senator and historian in the Roman Empire).   Currently in Italy, an olive spread is often used on a panini in northern Italy.

               Sun-dried tomato, artichoke, fennel & eggplant are only a few tapenade flavors  

Tapenade, however, remains a classical food item associated with Provence.  While the traditional recipe features tiny Niçoise olives (a varietal from the area of Nice, it’s small but packs a punch for flavor), tapenade can be made with any varietal of olives.  Go to an outdoor market in the south of France and you’ll often see tapenade vendors selling their spreads in a huge variety of flavors other than the one made with Niçoise olives:  green tapenade made with green olives, Kalamata olives, mixed olives.  There are also non-traditional tapenade in every flavor of fruit and veggies possible.  Tapenade has become synonymous with an olive base spread in which anything else can be added.

                                           Dried figs add an unusual nuance to tapenade

One of my favorite recipes is from David Lebowtiz, an American foodie living in Paris.  His rendition uses dried figs.
Another fave is Wolfgang Puck who uses both black and green olives.  I really like the depth of flavor of this one.  Add a log of goat cheese and some magnificent bread….voila!

Wine-Knows will be conducting a tour in 2022 to the estate in Provence where Julia Child wrote her iconic cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  One week in 2022 is sold out, but we've added a second week.  This second week is now available for viewing on our website:

Bon appetit !

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