Olives and Focaccia—Perfect Start to the Evening

Whether you are entertaining inside or out, offering your guests something to nibble on when they arrive is always appreciated. And if what you offer happens to rise to the occasion, then you know your event is off to a good start.

The trick with cocktail food is to provide tidbits that are tasty, compatible with drinks, and not too filling. After all, you want your guests to enjoy the main event. We happened upon the perfect combination one evening when our stroll in the West Village found us at Il Cantuccio, an Italian bakery on Christopher Street. Martina Kenworthy and Stefano Noceti of Gustiamo, importers of fine Italian foods, were inside hosting an olive tasting. The plump black and green olives were being served with light, airy focaccia from Il Cantuccio’s ovens. We were on our way to dinner but decided that these appetizers looked too good to pass up.

Martina explained that we were nibbling on Bella di Cerignola olives by Fratepietro’s Farm. These olives, originally from Spain, were brought to Puglia, the heel of the Italian boot, in the 1500s. The name comes from the town of Cerignola and Fratepietro Farms has been producing the olives since 1890.

The olives are picked when they are really ripe, washed a few times to lose their bitterness, and then placed in a salt water solution. The salt is the pure one from the Natural Preserve Margherita di Savoia Salt Planes, also in Puglia. “These are very meaty table olives,” Martin explained. The olives are never mushy, have a rich taste, and the meat separates easily from the pits. The green and black colors are natural. Stay away from red olives, Martina advised, because these are artificially colored.

Along with the olives, we enjoyed Il Cantuccio’s focaccia, light, yeasty, chewy, well-seasoned pieces of bread cut from a larger sheet. While we chatted with others who had wandered into the Village eatery, we took time to look over Il Cantuccio’s other offerings. There are many variations on focaccia, with ingredients including prosciutto, mortadella, tomatoes, onions, and olives. Pizza is topped with tomatoes, cheese, and oregano. There are also many Italian sandwiches, even one with chocolate.

Il Cantuccio’s biscotti and cookies are not to be overlooked. Since we weren’t ready for dessert, we bought some biscotti with figs to enjoy later on. (Truth be told, the cookies didn’t last that long).

Read our earlier story on Gustiamo. For more information and to purchase olives and other imported Italian foods, visit Gustiamo’s website.

Il Cantuccio
91 Christopher Street

About Charlene Giannetti (815 Articles)
Charlene Giannetti, editor of Woman Around Town, is the recipient of seven awards from the New York Press Club for articles that have appeared on the website. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Charlene began her career working for a newspaper in Pennsylvania, then wrote for several publications in Washington covering environment and energy policy. In New York, she was an editor at Business Week magazine and her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines including the New York Times. She is the author of 12 non-fiction books, eight for parents of young adolescents written with Margaret Sagarese, including "The Roller-Coaster Years," "Cliques," and "Boy Crazy." She and Margaret have been keynote speakers at many events and have appeared on the Today Show, CBS Morning, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many others. Her new book, "The Plantations of Virginia," written with Jai Williams, was published by Globe Pequot Press in February, 2017. Charlene divides her time between homes in Manhattan and Alexandria, Virginia.

1 Comment on Olives and Focaccia—Perfect Start to the Evening

  1. Thanks for a great source for Cerignola olives. They are meaty, mild and delicious. And so green!

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