The olive de Nice is a high-quality olive used in making three Protected Designation of Origin products: Olive oil, table olives and olive paste. This olive is a key part of the culinary tradition of the city of Nice and the surrounding area. It’s also prominently featured in Nice’s best-known culinary export: the salade niçoise, where olives de Nice are accompanied by tomatoes, peppers, red onions, olive oil, artichokes, anchovies and tuna.
Olives de Nice are characterized by their delicate, fruity flavor (with a hint of cherry or prune), their crunchiness and their firm texture. The olive groves of the olive de Nice are located in the heart of a rugged landscape of carbonated soils. It rests on the hills, plateaux, subcoastal slopes and large masses of terrain arranged in stepped terraces.
The climate of the olive de Nice-producing zone is Mediterranean with hints of mountain influence that bring milder temperatures and higher precipitation levels in Basse-Provence, excellent insulation and very few strong winds. The harvest takes place in a single transit of the field, at the very beginning of the grape harvesting season, the olives range in color from yellowish green to the color of wine. The colors aren’t uniform due to the differences in exposure to sun and rain of the olive trees.
This olive of small stature, with a large seed and firm pulp, is particularly well-adapted to being pickled in a sodium solution, a preparation method specific to the Nice region. This natural, additive-free method (except for salt) allows for the personality of fruit present in oil to come out in the table olives as well.
The occasional presence of stalks, either attached to the olive or free-floating in the solution, is explained by the particular characteristics of the olive de Nice variety (with the olives hanging by long stalks), and by the method of harvesting using shaking instead of picking.
These yellow-green to dark brown olives are widely available in the olive bars of quality grocery stores in the United States, so take advantage and try some.
A perfect way to enjoy the Olive de Nice: Salade niçoise recipe
• 1 cup olive oil
• 1 cup chopped fresh basil or 2 tablespoons dried
• 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
• 2 garlic cloves, chopped
• 1 small head green leaf lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
• 4 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
• 1 green pepper, cut into strips
• 1 small cucumber, peeled sliced
• 6 to 8 radishes, trimmed, sliced
• 3 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
• 2 6-ounce cans solid white tuna, drained, separated into chunks
• 12 drained canned anchovy fillets
• 12 olives de Nice
• 3 green onions, chopped
Whisk first 4 ingredients in small bowl to blend. Season dressing with salt and pepper.
Arrange bed of lettuce on large platter. Top decoratively with remaining ingredients. Drizzle dressing over.