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December 18, 2013

Bella di Cerignola Olives

by Anne Paddock

During the holiday season, there is no better time to enjoy one of nature’s most perfect foods:  the Cerignola Olive whose real name is the Bella di Cerignola Olive. Grown in the southern province of Puglia, Italy, the Cerignola Olive is named after a town of the same name, a place known for its cathedrals, red wine, and very special olives. Abnormally large, the Cerignola Olive is sometimes referred to as the “beginner’s olive” because of its mild and smooth taste, but fans of Cerignola Olives remain a loyal group long after their first taste.

Last summer while at the Fancy Food Show in NYC, there was a vendor who set up a 20 foot olive and antipasti bar with more than 20 types of olives. As I made my way down the table, taste testing all the varieties, a huge green unblemished olive – the Cerignola Olive – caught my eye.

Firm, buttery smooth, and very meaty, the Cerignola Olive was incredibly delicious, so good that I found myself asking the vendor questions just so I could eat more Cerignola Olives while he patiently answered. Hopefully, I didn’t embarrass myself with my glutinous behavior (my husband was with me and commented about my lengthy stay saying he expected that kind of enthusiasm at a booth offering dark chocolate, not olives). Cerignola Olives can make people misbehave.DSC_0085

The size of the Cerignola Olive can vary but generally each olive is 1-2 inches long and weighs about a half ounce (14-18 grams). My favorite source is the George DeLallo Company in Jeannette, Pennsylvania. The company has been around for more than 70 years, has a retail store, wholesale distribution, and on-line store that specializes in authentic Italian foods. A pioneer in the food industry, the DeLallo Company started the olive and antipasti bar concept which has become a staple in many grocery stores across the country. Because not all olive bars carry the Cerignola Olive, I started ordering directly from them on-line at www.delallo.com.Belladi3-DeLallo

Cerignola Olives can be purchased for $10.98 per pound (there are about 30 olives per pound although DeLallo  is always very generous) – plus shipping (which is very reasonable, especially given the care in which they are packaged and sent). Wrapped in ice packs and secured in a styrofoam container, the olives are shipped promptly and arrive in perfect condition.

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