It all started with a large container of olives left over from a potluck party.
They were a mix of gorgeous green and Kalamata olives, and I wanted to do something more interesting with them than just eating them whole or throwing them in a salad.
I decided to make an olive spread or tapenade. I pitted the olives and dumped them in a food processor along with about two tablespoons of capers, juice from half a lemon, two garlic cloves, reconstituted sundried tomatoes, and 1/3 cup olive oil.
I pulsed everything together, gave it a taste and was pleased with the result until I realized that I now had a lot of olive tapenade–as in, “Oh my gosh, what am I going to do with all of this olive tapenade?!”
The French do things with more style and make it seem effortless. That’s why there’s so much tension between France and America. France is the beautiful girl at the nightclub who attracts scores of men without even trying, and we’re the less attractive (but funnier) friend who gets stuck holding her purse while she goes off to dance.
Even an American classic–the grilled cheese sandwich–is done better by the French. The French version is called a croque monsieur and consists of ham and gruyere cheese.
I’ve been sampling croque monsieur sandwiches all over Seattle, and my current favorite is at Cafe Presse on Capitol Hill. Covered in Bechamel sauce, it is decadent but small so you don’t feel like a glutton. And it’s only six bucks. Vive la France!