Last year I was asked to be a judge in the New York Wine and Food Classic for the first time, and when I sat down at the table with my fellow compatriots in the sequestered judging room at the Harbor Hotel in Watkins Glen, a funny thing sat on the table along the expected judging sheets; pen, water, spit cups, and napkins: A bowl of mellow-green olives.
Olives? While judging a wine competition? Are these people crazy, I wondered. As it turns out, no. Not crazy at all.
Grown by the Graber family since 1894, Graber Olives come from Ontario, California (not the other C you expected) and their delicate flesh and slightly herby-nutty flavor turn out to be, as New York Wine & Grape Foundation President Jim Tresize told me, “The best palate cleanser on the planet.” After sipping, swishing, and spitting nearly 200 wines at this year’s competition between Monday and Tuesday, I officially agree. There was one can left in the back room post-judging and Tresize offered it up. But where, I wondered, could I get these once I got back to NYC? Would I have to order them online? Surely they must be somewhere.
After three phone calls to their maker, distributor, and direct NYC salesperson, the answer is yes, there is. Grace’s Market Place on the Upper East at 72nd and First Avenue and Morton Williams Supermarket hella downtown at Bleecker and LaGuardia. Good to know! Because I’m now officially addicted to these things and I can’t wait an entire other year and a trek to Watkins Glen to get more.