Among the most emblematic memories of my first fine dining experiences as a child was the arrival of the relish tray. Carrots, radishes and big fat unpitted green olives which hadn’t been plucked from a can. Planted on that leather banquette waiting for the steak or shrimp cocktail to arrive I would delight in that. Of course I was probably still high from the smell of the airplane glue we used to assemble our model planes and ships in the garage. Still, it pleases me today when I sit down in an old school steakhouse and a relish tray comes out. This is less a recipe than a schematic. Recently I was lucky to discover some excellent French breakfast radishes as well as cerignola olives. I matched this up with crusty French bread, creamery butter and homemade harissa. We didn’t have harissa when I was a kid but it’s a good fit. When I entertain guests at home I always make sure that there is a relish tray. It keeps your guests out of the kitchen while you are doing the heavy lifting behind the yellow “caution” tape. —pierino
Fresh carrots peeled and cut into sticks
Big fat unpitted olives, such as cerignola or castelvetrano
Radishes, ideally the French breakfast variety, allongated with white at the base
Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.