Stuffed grape vine leaves, or dolmades, are typically served on special occasions in Greek households because rolling them can be a long, labor-intensive process (and ten hands are better than two). Plus, you need a special sort of dexterity, the kind you develop after years of practice. Rolling rice and meat into pudgy little cigars might look easy on the sidelines, but your first few tries won’t be cute. It takes practice. And patience.
But here’s some good news: at Opa, you can get all the practice you want because they’re now offering a new roll-your-own dolmades plate that’ll turn you into a pro in no time.
Fortunately for you newbies, no matter what your grape leaves look like, they’ll always taste good (given you’re using good ingredients). It’s Mediterranean comfort food at its finest — simple flavors, easy to eat. Plus, all things considered, they’re actually fun to make. It’s interactive and individualized; stuff ’em with whatever you like, however you like.
Opa’s Bobby Saritsoglou, a chef who constantly pushes our Greek scene forward, is introducing this new family-style appetizer to his menu. The roll-your-own dolmades board is presented with all the fixings. And for $20, it’s a goddamn steal. Here’s what you get:
- Brined grape leaves (about 10)
- Beef stew
- Paprika Chicken
- Saffron rice with apricot, dates, currants
- Tursi (pickled vegetables)
- Chickpea salata
- Housemade spiced pepper condiments (long hot pepper hot sauce and a sweeter Florina pepper sauce)
- Sprigs of dill and parsley
Roll them like you would a tiny burrito (keep it tight!). Use only what you like. And from someone who has done this a fair amount, here’s a pro-tip: Less is more. An overstuffed grape leaf can be messy to eat. So go easy. And if you need more leaves, just order more.