Edina Byerly’s food expert Karen Geier shares her top picks and pairings.
An assortment of olives from Lunds and Byerly's.

Black Cerignola 

Their giant size (by olive standards, of course) alone makes this Italian black olive a standout; it’s impressive on any antipasti plate and it’s a great size for stuffing with any cheese, nut, garlic or what-not you’d like. The darker the olive, the more ripe it is, explains Geier—and this heavy ebony olive proves soft, buttery and oh-so-ripe. This variety soars when partnered with a white cheese like La Tur Formaggio, a pungent crumbly cheese made from sheep and goat’s milk. Nibble on one of these goliath olives with a glass of clean chardonnay, or use it in your cooking to top homemade pesto pizza, chicken or lamb.

Dry-Cured Black Beldi  

While appearing deflated and certainly less polished than their full-size relatives, dry-cured olives pack a whollop of complex flavor and texture. Grown in the Marrakech region of Morocco, this small wrinkled olive has a dense yet fruity flavor. They’re brine-cured which draws out the moisture, resulting in a salty meaty gem of an olive. Serve them alongside fresh or dried apricots, figs or dates to balance their heft of flavor, while a glass of crisp, floral pinot grigio also serves as a delightful equalizer.


To get specific, Geier explains that “kalamon” is the authentic name for what we’ve come to know as “kalamata” olives. Grown in the region surrounding the Greek city of Kalamata, these eggplant-hued olives took on their now-common moniker from the town’s name, which was stamped on boxes as they were shipped out of the port city. You say “kalamata,” we say “kalamon;” either way, they’ve become one of the most popular olives worldwide. Bylerly’s supple, glossy kalamon is first marinated in wine vinegar, then packed in olive oil. Firm in texture with a slightly sharp flavor, they’re particularly great in bruschetta and tapenades or paired with an aged Greek feta such as Kasseri.

Hot Greek Olives

Marinated with chiles, garlic and herbs, then tossed with olive oil, this green and black assortment of Greek olives definitely packs an “oomph,” explains Geier, and they’ll enhance the flavor of any dish or accompaniment. The perfect partner for your appetizer plate? Try the fresh, soft Greek Myzithra cheese made from sheep and goat’s milk, the slight sweetness from which counters the heat of the olive. (Helpful hint: When in doubt about olive/cheese pairings, choose items that come from the same region of the world, as they’re natural companions due to sharing the same climate and soil. It’s all about the origins of food, emphasizes Geier.) Add them to a salad or serve them with nuts. Marcona almonds add a nice bite, especially when purchased in the spicy variety; or, balance the heat of the olive with caramelized pecans for the perfect combination of spicy and sweet.

Stuffed Olives

These handsome green olives hail from Mt. Athos, a relatively isolated monastic region that remains one of the most unspoiled regions of Greece. Due to their firm texture and mild flavor, they prove the perfect candidate for stuffing with complements like blue cheese and almonds. A vibrant light green (it wasn’t cured as long as darker varieties), this blue-cheese stuffed olives is one of the richest and most decadent you’ll find; and because of its utter creaminess, it’s a divine accompaniment to fruits such as pears. The almond-stuffed variation is slightly meatier, and fares notably well when partnered with a harder cheese like pecorino, notes Geier, which mimics the buttery, nutty flavor of this olive.



Byerly’s offers these fresh olives and more for $8.99 per pound. All cheeses, nuts and fruits mentioned are also available in store. Looking for more olive ideas? Stop in the store and ask for Geier, who’s constantly demonstrating new ideas and pairings. 7171 France Ave. S.; 952.831.3601