Castelvetrano: The Gateway Olive

The Castelvetrano is quickly becoming known as the irresistable olive; find out why.

Some folks are ever too eager to gift away the olives that garnish their plates, top off their martinis and sneak their way into Mom’s lasagna. We learn to smile lovingly at them as they pick through their food, turn up their noses and grimace at any residual taste from the little black and green ovals. This can be a tedious task when picking toppings on shared pizzas or deciding on a plate at virtually any Mediterranean restaurant. To olive haters and their patient friends and family, we are here to provide a mild, delicious alternative: the Castelvetrano. Commonly referred to as the Sicilian olive, these are usually imported from Italy and grown in the small town of Castelvetrano, located in the southern province of Sicily. Although most come from overseas, some are grown in Napa Valley, specifically by a brand called Mezzeta. Regardless, these are a very special type of olive found in small pantry boutiques and artisan cheese shops.

It’s not how way you look, it’s how you feel.

The first difference is in the feel and texture. Many olives are soft and supple, but Castelvetrano olives are smooth, with a firm body. They sink into your teeth almost like the savory twin to a perfectly ripe cherry, and are best eaten with the pit intact, so they maintain that sweet solidity. They are silky to touch but somehow hold a thick and undeniable layer of rich olive oil that rounds their surface, almost acting as a second skin. This is what provides the buttery, lip-smacking taste that the Castelvetrano is known for. A way to describe them would be the result of a complex relationship between juicy sweet and slightly salty, the two warming each other for an aftertaste that gently hangs on your tongue and coats the back of your mouth. The effect is at once light and refreshing, with a slow and leisurely transformation into something heavy and rich.

Sought after for many reasons by olive-haters and -lovers alike, the Castelvetrano’s buttery and subtle taste caters to the pickiest and most complex of palates.

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