After I finish a jar of pickles, I keep the remaining pickle juice in the fridge. So I can drink it, pickling spices and all.
I’ve been all about anything salty, briny or vinegary ever since childhood. It started with a fondness for good old bottled Italian salad dressing you buy at the grocery store. Which I’d pour on everything.
I won’t go into detail about what some of those choice foods were. I will say that of all the foods, the least gross was cold, leftover spaghetti, which I would make soup out of. My parents had to bring bottles of it with us in our luggage when we went on trips. It was that depraved.
As an adult, it manifests itself with a proclivity for pickled anything, especially McClure’s Pickles, and very dirty martinis.
The only other person I know who loves brine more is my larger-than-life Italian uncle Mark, who, while on vacation one time, ate somewhere around one-hundred martini olives in a night.
According to his account, it all happened when the bartender was more than happy to give him free bowls of garnish olives. Fast forward a few hours, and it was so bad that his mouth and eyes puffed up, sealed shut from the dangerously high level of sodium he had ingested.
What the fuck is wrong with you, Mark?
So compared to Mark, I don’t actually like brine that much. But it’s still a mainstay craving I must succumb to on a regular basis. This hors d’oeuvre was born of the cocktail garnishes that make the quintessential, timeless martini look, and taste, like a martini. That, mixed with a take on the traditional, Provencal olive tapenade.
You should you eat this alongside a martini, too.
Actually, don’t even bother eating this without a martini in hand.
I N G R E D I E N T S
Serves 2 – 4 as an appetizer.
- 1 16 oz jar high-quality pimento-stuffed Manzanilla olives, drained & minced *
- 1 / 2 16 oz jar cocktail onions, drained & minced (that much better if you can get your hands on a jar of Sable & Rosenfeld Vermouth Tipsy Onions)
- 2 tablespoons good olive oil
- 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, minced
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 / 4 teaspoon salt
- 1 / 4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 pinch sugar
*Go beyond the traditional pimento-stuffed variety if you’d like – blue cheese-stuffed olives would be great, as would garlic-stuffed olives. Or goat cheese-stuffed olives. You see what I’m getting at.
D I R E C T I O N S
- Blend all the ingredients by hand in a bowl, mixing well.*
- Serve chilled or at room temperature, smothered on slices of fresh baguette or Carr’s Table Water Crackers.
*For a finer texture, mix all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you reach desired consistency.