June 29, 2010 § 5 Comments
San Francisco was a whirlwind. Actually, to be more accurate I should probably say it was a fog. Anyway, it was a little crazy busy, so let’s set it aside for a moment to address these amazing stuffed grape leaves instead.
The first time I ever made stuffed grape leaves it was summer and I was out on an island. Doesn’t that just sound exciting and exotic? Unfortunately, it was an island in the Boston harbor, not off the coast of Greece or anything. But actually, apart from that little fact, the whole experience definitely tended toward the exotic side. I was there for an art encampment that a good friend of mine curates each year. In an homage to the Homestead Act, groups of artists “stake a claim” on pieces the island for 5 days and “improve” it by creating installations or performances using only what they can carry on their backs or find on the island. The whole encampment is open to the public for exploration and interaction. The installations range from a Museum of Island Artifacts (my favorite artifact was the “petrified jellyfish,” which looked suspiciously like sea glass), to an island gamelan, to a trans harbor tin can telephone.
Joel and I were there to be the practical people (translation: make sure that the artists survived camping on an island for 5 days). This also translated into being the occasional camp cook. (The first night, on super short notice, we managed to whip up grilled pizzas for 30 over an open fire with a grate. It was kind of awesome.) The last night of the encampment we iron-cheffed, in a kind of grand experiment to see what we could create out of everyone’s leftovers and what we could forage. This is how I wound up stuffing some grape leaves – also some kelp, which I’ll have you know is very, very rubbery – with bruised avocado, sun dried tomatoes, and some very near the borderline of too old goat cheese. They were actually pretty good. But, they didn’t inspire me to make grape leaves again, until now.