I'm glad to see restaurants are offering olives as appetizers. When the olives are really good, fresh, and ideally, local... you've got a good dish of snackies.
A fun twist on the olive dish lately has been oven-roasted olives. I ordered some at an acclaimed local pizzeria, and doggone it, the olives were heated in the pizza oven!
But that's all.
Warm olives, otherwise nude and dull.
Somehow you wish the olives would pick up a bit of smoke, or oregano, or jeez, mozzarella.
Let me tell you about a personal favorite flavorizer this time of year. Orange rind. I gots the oranges (and so does the food bank; we're taking two huge boxes of oranges tomorrow).
This simple dish of roasted green olives took a little bath in olive oil mixed with orange zest, some peeled garlic, and sliced hot peppers. No salt needed; the olives are salty. These are soft cured, velvety, buttery green olives from the farmers market. We accidentally ran into some inferior cure from another vendor the other day, and the pitted (eek) green olives are brittle, and taste like something from the refrigerator door, circa 1970. (Why? Bad goal.)
Use soft olives.
Here's the trick: Cook the olives until they begin to collapse. This batch went almost 45 minutes.
They will be very hot when they come out, and You Will Have to Wait!
The only thing I would do differently (and I will try this) is to shave some fennel bulb in there with the other flavors.
They're pretty. A little out of focus, but check out the depth of field on that ratty dish towel!
All the better to wipe your warm, drippy, tasty fingers on.