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Sep 26, 2013 05:19 PM

Stuffed Grape Leaves

I had a place near my home where I was able to buy stuffed grape leaves by the pound. I was able to get a plastic tray and put in as many as i liked. They were delicious and lemony.

Then, about two months ago, the store stopped carrying them.

Even though I have made them, both meat or rice filled many, many times, it's very time consuming and the recipe makes millions of them. So I would prefer to buy.

I stopped by Elena's Greek in Glendale after I got off work. They had 2 versions: "regular" or vegetarian. I ordered 1 order of regular to go. I was perplexed, and maybe you know what the order entails. I got a small container of 10 rolls. It came with pitas, a huge bowl [32 oz?] of broth and a small [4 oz] container of thin yoghurt ... very much like salty lassi which I love.

What is the broth for? What is the watery yoghurt for? Ultimately I did not like the grape leaves but will give it a taste after they cool down.

In the meantime, does anyone have a suggestion for tasty grape leaves, dolma, dolmades? i would love by the pound but take out would do.

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  1. God, I LOVE stuffed grapeleaves. My favorite (Cedarlane) has become impossible to find. They used to sell them everywhere, Ralphs and Gelsons and Whole Foods, then I could only find them at Whole Foods, now they aren't stocking them. The middle easten stand at the Sunday farmers market in Studio City (he's probably at the other ones, but Studio City is the last one I went to, and he was definitely there) are great, but I can't remember the quantity/price. I think around $4 or so for a container with probably 8 or 10 smallish, oily, lemony vegetarian ones. I used to love the ones at Noura Cafe (RIP), and recently found out that they ofer the same ones at Cayenne on Beverly, a few blocks west of La Brea. Big, fat, steamed and veggie, they are really good, but kind of on the pricy side. Costco sells a really really good version, but there are a lot of them (mabe 30 or so) to a package. Also, I just saw them at Jons Market on Vermont, I didn't buy them, but they looked pretty good, and were only around $3 or so. Lastly, Moishas in the Original Farmers Market are great too. And if you want meat ones, the dolmatas at Sofi on 3rd are wonderful, and so are the stuffed tomatoes.

    3 Replies
    1. re: schrutefarms

      I agree, I loved cedar lanes too, and now it's impossible to find them, bummer too. Guess ill have to resort to asking my dad for a recipe, much as I don't want to actually make me myself.

      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

        Yeah, whats up with Cederlane? I also have an obsession with their couscous and veggie wraps (they are like frozen burritos and freaking delicious), which you could also find at Ralphs, Whole Foods, everywhere, then just Whole Foods, and now they aren't carrying them anymore either!!

        1. re: schrutefarms

          I think I may have seen them at Costco..... But not the grape leaves. I will have to check it out further next time I go.....

    2. Elena's dolmas are probably more Armenian or Lebanese in style than the Greek dolmades style you are seeking

      Check out Papa Cristo's. They have the Greek-style dolmades available in catering size and are served with the thicker tzatziki yoghurt sauce

      1. Thanks for your suggestions. Schrutefarms, I can give Studio City a try in a couple of weeks.

        Ernie, Papa Cristos is on my list for next week. An easy swing on the way home.

        A word about Elena's. After i read Thi's remarkable review of Elena's many years ago it has been on my list. I passed it a thousand times since then. Having abstained from food all day, I stopped for a late lunch on the way home from work.

        I think I was blown away by Thi's review and had very high expectations. I ordered the half lamb, half dark chicken kabob plate. The chicken was superb but the lamb was very small and was cooked much longer than I would have preferred.

        The lentil soup was good, pink pickles refreshing, but the rice was just okay, the onion "salad" was flecked with curly parsley , a pet peeve of mine. The garlic spread or butter was not appealing. I understand by looking at other diners that you can order hand cut homemade fries instead of rice. Looked like the better choice.

        I'll probably go back to try other items but if I was going for kebabs again, I just might go back to Cafe Bravo in Glendale.

        4 Replies
        1. re: SilverlakeGirl

          i think elena's is great. love the vegetarian grape leaves, and while i rarely order the kebabs, i found the meat ones surprisingly good.
          i usually order the salads there, and think the lentil soup is first rate.

          the chicken kebabs at cafe bravo are the best in the area. the lamb and beef ones are good.
          however, the beef and lamb kebabs at elena's are better.

          i can't remember the name of the bakery/deli on glenoaks, near the smart and final, but the vegetarian grape leaves there are pretty good.

          1. re: SilverlakeGirl

            I forgot about Papa Cristos, I love it there. If you do make it to the Studio City farmers mkt, the same guy who sells the dolmas also sells some lemon pita chips that are ridiculously amazing.

              1. re: mc michael

                heading to costco today and been eye'ing them, might have to pull the trigger.

            1. My introduction to stuffed grape leaves came from a recipe in The Joy of Cooking. They're meaty and dense, with ground lamb, ground beef, rice, onion, parsley, dill, pine nuts and currants, they're very different from the vegetarian version. Anyone found a good meat based version?

              3 Replies
              1. re: engie

                I wish! That's the kind my ex-wife makes - she learned it from her Armenian grandma, and it's so embedded now that when I asked her recently for the recipe she admitted she'd lost it years ago, but doesn't need it. So she told me roughly how to do it; when the vegetarian Mrs. O is away this next week a batch of those is on the agenda.

                The best veggie ones I've had are at the Good Foods market on Washington in Pasadena, just east from Hill Ave. They are not cheap - about $5 for a tray of five - but they're really tasty. When we put them out with the cheese and stuff we usually cut them in half, a good single bite. Up Hill Ave. to New York is Armen Market, and it seems to me they have them by the pound. They aren't quite as good as the others, but very acceptable.

                1. re: Will Owen

                  Ate Elena's leftovers today after work. Yum. The yoghurt sauce turns out to be quite good. I am going back for the eggplant. Can't beat the prices.

                  I, too, make my stuffed grape leaves without a recipe. I HIGHLY recommend the Pacific Mart on Pacific just 1/2 north of Glenoaks in Glendale for all the ingredients.

                  I do either meat or rice or a combination. Always lots and lots of baby dill, lots of fresh mint leaves, garlic! Flat leaf parsley and sometimes toasted pine nuts.

                  In the baking dish before the oven, lots of good quality olive oil and the juice of lemons. I let them cool in the pan and refrigerate.

                  1. re: Will Owen

                    I found this online - it's been a while since I've made them, and I mistakenly remembered a mixture of ground lamb and ground beef, but it's only minced lamb


                2. i love the stuffed grape leaves @ hayat's kitchen in NoHo.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: ns1

                    It's on my very short list. It looks wonderful!!!

                    1. re: SilverlakeGirl

                      they taste like magic. i usually hate stuffed grape leaves but the ones @ hayats i devour no problem.

                      1. re: ns1

                        aint life wacky? i like grape leafs everywhere. like the ones at hayats, but dont find them radically different from any others around town.

                        ah, chowhound.

                      1. re: linus

                        Anyone know what the best/biggest branch is off Skaf's Lebanese?

                        There are two in Glendale on one in NoHo.

                        1. re: SilverlakeGirl

                          biggest? glendale
                          best? arguable

                          you can hit up skafs and hayat's in the same day and do a stuffed grape leaves throwdown for us ;)