There are some classic food combinations such as tomato and basil, peaches and cream and, I think, duck with olives. With some friends coming for dinner I cooked Neil Perry’s Honey braised duck with orange and olives . This recipe is a clever mixture of the traditional French duck recipes with a middle eastern touch. Neil Perry’s addition of cinnamon and coriander to the French duck flavours of orange and olives makes for a modern dish which can happily be served with cous cous or more traditional vegetables.
After the dinner, a friend sent me the link to restaurant Allard in the rue St-Andre-des-Arts in Paris. Their reputation is built on their Canard de Chellans aux olives (though apparently not on their service, if you read the reviews on Trip Adviser). The French recipes tend to roast the duck first and when plating it up, pour the sauce and olives over. All of the recipes agree that the olives must be green, which also means being careful not to over-salt. The olives by themselves add enough additional salt.
Duck with olives is perfect dinner party fare. You can organise most of it beforehand, the meal is not too heavy and duck always imbues a sense of festivity. Then, as Brillat-Savarin says, the true pleasures of the table can be enjoyed where ‘at the end of a well-savoured meal both soul and body enjoy an especial well-being’.