I thought the hardest thing about making dolmades was going to be making dolmades. But finding grape leaves in the first place is proving to be a major stumbling block.
After trying six stores, three of which were European delis, I gave up on the hope of ever finding grape leaves in this part of town and decided to make salad rolls instead.
I'll bet the grumpy old guys from the Greek store that I used to frequent in London's old Convent Gardens market would have grape leaves.
They were intimidating, with their scowls and their inexplicable green labs coats, but they loved the Offspring. They would frown at me as we entered the store, but immediately latched onto the Offspring as she toddled over to the counter. You like olives? They would scoop a dozen kalamata olives out of a big barrel with a massive slotted spoon and lean over the counter and hold out the spoon to the Offspring. As she gobbled the olives up, they would straighten up, fold their arms across their chests and nod approvingly.
Then they would turn and fix me with a baleful stare. You want cheese? Salami?
I'd like about this much feta, please. I would hold my fingers about an inch and a half apart.
They, in turn, would hold a knife over the giant slab of feta, preparing to cut a piece at least twice that size. You need more?
No. I was intimidated by their grumpiness and their scowly eyebrows. That's just fine.
And then, of course, they would make me buy olives too.
Those old Greek guys in their green lab coats may have been grumpy and pushy, but I bet they would have grape leaves. Except they would likely make me buy four cans.