In each country we visited, our meals often started with a bowl of olives. The olives were usually local and quite fresh. Restaurants seemed to have their own unique way of curing them, so that the taste was just slightly different in each place. During our first meal in Lisbon, we were served a bowl of olives that had fresh garlic slices mixed in, and I loved the simple, flavor-packed combination, perfect with a cocktail. Restaurants in Barcelona added citrus, peppers, or herbs. One restaurant in France served theirs mixed with a basil oil they made themselves. I kept seeing special olive serving bowls in Portuguese restaurants with a separate compartment for the pits, and I was happy to pick this one (at right) up at a little shop in Sintra. Alternatively, you can set out a small ramekin for the pits.
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