I'll admit that olives are not a favorite of mine, but there's something about tapenade that makes them so right to me.
Originating in the south of France, "tapenade" is derived from tapenas, the Provençal word for capers. So capers are a must along with the olives—I used kalamatas, but nicoise or most other olives work great too—that are pureed together with anchovies, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. With that you have a standard tapenade base to build from, where you can start introducing herbs, spices, or other flavors to your liking.
I simply added a bit of thyme and whole grain Dijon to add a hint of herbs and a slight bite to the briny saltiness of the tapenade.
The wife and I easily blew threw half of this ourselves with the remains of a baguette, so if you're making it for a party, you may want to double the recipe—it'll go fast.