After all the hype and hysteria of the last few days, political news coming at us like the rat-tat-tat of machine gun fire, I have fled back to the comfort of food. Most specifically, I am sheltering under the umbrella of tapenade.
Here is what I did:
Took a jar of Kalamata olives, rinsed them, and pitted them. The pitting took ages, and I had to press and fiddle to get the stones to come out, but all the serious chefs who talk about tapenade insist it is really worth it, because olives without stones do not have nearly such a rich flavour. Luckily the rather diverting Museum of Curiosity was on the wireless, which helped take my mind off the dullness of the job.
(Did you notice the omission? No capers. I love capers and would have included them, but they are beyond my local shop, and despite the fact that this entire dish originates from the capers in the vats in the sixth century BC, I did not notice their absence. Probably next time I would add a very few, the ones stored in salt, not in brine.)
I sliced a baguette as thinly as I could and toasted the little rounds under the grill. For perfection, I think a good Italian bread would be better – again, the limitations of my local shop – and I imagine that sourdough might be sublime. I spread a generous amount of tapenade on each toast, added a sliver of Capricorn goat’s cheese and a little suggestion of Parma ham on the top. All the textures worked fabulously well: the crisp of the toast, the black fleshiness of the tapenade, the yielding softness of the cheese and the smooth of the ham. Also, the cool tang of the goat’s cheese cut the saltiness of the olives beautifully.