Tuesday, June 29, 2010


How I adore her! The jazz bass player Esperanza Spalding first came to my attention in an article from the New York Times Magazine, a sunday section that I peruse for the photos and a quick glance at the captions, but never fully read because the articles usually irritate me so. But this was different, a profile of this young, beautiful and talented jazz musician- I had to know more. Her eponymous titled CD is heaven to listen to. Esperanza sings too, in a sweet buttery smooth, sexy voice with lots of Brazilian inflections. Her musicality hits me right in the heart. When I saw that she was playing at Summer Stage, the free outdoor concert venue in Central Park, last week as part of a lineup with McCoy Tyner and Ravi Coltrane, I HAD TO GO!

The CareFusion Jazz Festival at Summer Stage in Central Park last Wednesday night.

The show was fantastic  (despite the heat) and the beautiful sunset just added to the summer-in-the-city ambiance. The music was riveting.  Esperanza in person was all I hope for: cute, sassy and bouncy AND the girl has chops!
The hot but happy crowd! Did I mention that the Stanley Clarke Band knocked our socks off when they played the second set?
As the evening wore on the air cooled off a bit and it became a gorgeous night in Central Park.

I decided right then and there that I want to dedicate a recipe to her and I immediately thought of green olive salsa. Esperanza is young and still green, but with tons of depth, lots of piquant spice and pizazz AND she draws on a long history, just like green olives - what could be more appropriate?

Summer Stage is hosting some wonderful food vendors this summer and that evening I was enjoying  delicious pizza from Pizza Moto (they bring their own wood burning oven on site!)  Green olive salsa would be fantastic on a slice of their ricotta and tomato pie.

Green Olive Salsa
1 cup of pitted green olives
1/2 cup fresh tender herbs (parsley, mint, basil, cilantro)
2 garlic cloves
1-2 chilie peppers
zest of one lemon
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse till well chopped, scrapping down the sides of the bowl as you go to make sure the texture is even. Serve as a condiment or directly on crackers.

makes about 1.5 cups

Sounds like a fantastic night in Central Park! Not much beats a summer night in NYC. Deb's salsa is so versatile, I can think of so many different ways to enjoy it. Definitely on the pizza as Deb suggests. Spreading a little on some garlic rubbed grilled crostini would be superb as well, or alongside some simple, broiled fish.

Deb's Green Olive Salsa would pair wonderfully with a glass of Cabernet Franc, especially if the salsa were atop pizza. Cabernet Franc is a cousin of Cabernet Sauvignon, but because of its thinner skin it has lower tannin levels. It thrives in cooler climates, and is a very important varietal in the Bordeaux and Loire Valley regions of France. Though it has been grown successfully in warmer climates like Australia, California and South Africa. It produces a fruity wine and is a bit more subdued than Cab Sauvignon. Typically, a glass of Cab Franc will demonstrate flavors of bell pepper, raspberries and perhaps a bit of tobacco. I love the idea of these characteristics paired with the salty, herbal flavors of Deb's salsa. I think it's a match made in heaven!

Some of my favorite Cab Francs are Chinon, from the Loire Valley in France. The area produces mostly red wines, based on this varietal. The wines are fresh, light and subtle. Chinon Rose's are amazing as well. One of my favorite producers in this region is Couly Dutheil. They produce a lovely, bold Cab Franc called La Baronnie Madeleine. I love this wine! The Wine Spectator, in it's review of this wine, makes note of it's "green olive tapenade" flavors. My favorite summertime Rose also comes from Couly Dutheil - Chinon Rose Couly Rose. I like to refer to this wine as "summertime in a glass". Either one of these wines would be a tremendous hit with Deb's Green Olive Salsa!

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