We’re used to pairing cheese and wine, but in the same vein, I've found that particular cheeses have an affinity for particular olives. For example, moist slices of fresh mozzarella are delicious served with Italian gaeta olives; Gorgonzola goes well with large, apple-green cerig-nola olives from Apulia; sheep's milk cheeses, such as kasseri or feta, are excellent with cracked green Greek olives, especially if the cheeses are sprinkled with a little crushed orégano.
At the other end of the Mediterranean, Spanish cabarales blue cheese is a match for manzanilla olives, while Spanish manchego cheese, marinated in olive oil with herbs and seasonings as presented here, goes perfectly with small juicy arbequina or niçoise olives. I think a dense cheese like manchego is so much better when marinated; it doesn't dry out. Manchego is easily infused by oil and herbs in about a week.
I serve slices of this marinated manchego with toothpicks, but you can also set them on grilled bread alongside an arugula salad, or with grilled mushrooms and a bitter green salad garnished with some toasted walnuts. Any olive oil left over from the marinade is absolutely delicious for dressing salads or stirred into a bean soup just before serving.
With thanks to
The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert. Copyright © 2003 by Paula Wolfert. Photographs copyright © by Christopher Hirsheimer. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.