Inspired by a friend of my sister’s in Portland, OR, I’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to get a weekly potluck thing going. I’m a bit shy entertaining alone, so beginning something, even with a friend, has proven to be a daunting task. But this week I had my first three-person potluck, with the plan to make it a more populated, weekly event. I have a friend who relocated to New York from the Portland of Europe, aka Berlin, so it’s fitting that it was she who helped to get it going. To remind her of the Turkish food she had so much access to in Germany, and to offer her Greek Cypriot roommate a taste of home, I made stuffed grape leaves and feta walnut spread.
While cooking, I remembered the rustic version I created once while visiting a then boyfriend in New Paltz, New York. I was out for a jog along the Rail Trail, when I noticed, and harvested, abundant grape leaves from nearby vines. Those stuffed grape leaves had as much to do with the prepackaged sort one finds in the supermarket as cheddo cheez has to do with Farmhouse Dorset cheddar, but though I used brined leaves this time, and they lacked the textural heft of fresh leaves, they still contributed to a complexly flavored dish.