A bowl of olive bar olives is a nice snack, for your friends, particularly if you get a variety of colours, sizes, and cures (the wrinkled oil-cured guys are my current faves). No one would be mad at a bowl of room temperature olives, but if you want your guests to feel loved, cared for, and especially attended to, warm the olives up just before serving.
Warming your before setting them out olives is a very simple, very quick extra step that makes the snack seem more intentional. When swirled in warm, golden olive oil with fresh herbs and other flavorful friends, the olives become a fragrant, luxurious treat. There is no real recipe, you just need a bunch of your favourite olives, some olive oil, fresh herbs (I like thyme the best here), and a couple of strips of lemon or orange zest. If you are feeling bold, you can add chunks of tangy feta and red pepper flakes. (You’ll want to add the feta just before serving, however. Unless you want completely melted feta, which I guess wouldn’t be the worst thing.)
Remove the olives from whatever oil or brine they’re packed in and place them in a sauce pan. Add enough olive oil to cover, and add four or five sprigs of fresh herbs, at least four strips of citrus zest, and a couple of pinches of red pepper flakes or a single Calabrian chilli (if you dare). Toss in a couple of cloves of smashed garlic if you’ve got it. Bring the whole thing to a sizzle over high heat, then reduce to medium-low and cook until the olives are warm and fragrant, about five minutes. Transfer to a bowl, sprinkle with feta if you have chosen that route, and serve with crusty bread and a little bowl for pits.