5 years ago

The story behind our olive bars

Written by Merritt Steidl, Deli Category Analyst

To ancient Greeks, the olive tree was a miraculous gift from the gods – a source of nourishment, energy, healing and beauty. Today, we still love olives for these same reasons; fine olives are still simple delicacies that add a touch of luxury to everyday life. But not every olive is created equally …

Our olive bar hosts delicacies from around the Mediterranean and Northern Africa: Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Morocco. Like grapes, the flavor of olives depends on the terroir (special characteristics from climate and geography) of the land on which they’re grown. The soil, climate, terrain and cultivation all play an important role in olive characteristics.

We work closely with Foodmatch, a Mediterranean food importer, which selects olive producers known for exceptionally great olives. Many of the groves have been passed down through families for generations. A few years ago, we sent a group of team members to Greece to meet with some of our growers to see the production process firsthand.

Our olives are cared for and produced using time-tested, traditional methods, and much of the work is done by hand. It’s important that the growing and curing processes are not rushed, which is common in industrial olive operations; otherwise, it results in low-quality, salty olives with a chemical aftertaste. In our olives, you will always find complex, natural flavors and buttery smoothness.

Here are a few things you should look for when purchasing olives:

Freshness: Air exposure dries out olives. Make sure your selection is covered with brine or oil. (The only exception is dry-cured black olives.)

Appearance: Olives should appear plump, firm and vibrant in color. They shouldn’t look dull, cloudy or bruised.

Aroma: There should be a pleasant, clean aroma.

Flavor and texture: Texture will vary from crisp to smooth and velvety. Salt is an important ingredient, but it should not overpower the natural flavor. You should still get complex tastes from the olive itself. 

Sampling: You should be able to taste what you’re buying! The best test for quality is to taste. Feel free to sample selections from our olive bar at any time before purchasing.

We have more than 100 items available at our olive bar, including grilled veggies, beans, tapenades and cheeses. Stop by your deli to sample a few, along with our delicious olives!