Dear snotty lady in the overpriced posh food shop many years ago,
Four score and twenty years ago, I came in to your store and asked for some verjuice. I pronounced it exactly as it was spelt. Saying ‘ver’, then ‘juice’ as in ‘orange juice’. You looked down your elongated nose and pronounced in your very best plum in the mouth, lower northshore accent. ‘Surely dear, you mean ver-jus’. (Your pronunciation of the ‘juice’ as in the French pronuciation of the word jus…rhyming with zhoo..like ach-choo but softer).
Yes, you did make me feel ten cm tall (and I am barely taller than that anyway). I slunk away that day, clutching my bottle of unripe grape juice to my slightly wounded pride.
I write today to happily inform you that your elitist attitude didn’t deter me from continuing on my food journey. Some of the foodie jobs I have held did consist of educating others. I truly hope I have never contributed towards making anyone feel as small I as felt, when I left your shop that day.
This big, wide wonderful world of food is a never ending journey of exciting discoveries. Learning new things everyday rocks my very being.
PS Get stuffed.
KALE AND RED ONION with a splash of verjuice!
WHAT YOU NEED
2 tbl garlic infused olive oil or regular olive oil
1 medium red/Spanish onion, sliced
1 red capsicum, sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
1 bunch kale washed and chopped into 2-3cm strips
Splash of verjuice or squeeze of lemon
HOW YOU DO IT
In a large frypan, sauté the onion, capsicum, salt and chilli over low to medium heat until they are soft and starting to caramelise, about 15 -20 minutes.
Add the kale, stir and cook for 10 – 15 minutes until it starts to soften.
Add a large splash of verjuice (or lemon) and stir to mix through until the verjuice starts to sizzle.
Season with extra salt and pepper to taste.
This dish is great by itself as a light lunch or dinner. Also as a side to eggs, grilled meats, casseroles, tofu dishes, anything your wee heart desires really.
This is also good with a couple of cloves of crushed garlic, added just before you pop in the kale. Due to the Yak having to talk to people all day, sometimes we have to dial back on the garlic during the week.
A cheergerm recipe
What the heck is verjuice anyhoo?
Made from unripe grapes, it was used in the Middle Ages as a condiment in sauces or to deglaze particular dishes. It is a alternative to vinegar. One of my food heroes, Maggie Beer, was at the forefront of bringing verjuice back into popularity by being the first (her claim) in the world to produce it commercially.
The mild acidity of verjuice is a real bonus. It isn’t as ‘in yo face’ as lemon juice or vinegar and is great in dishes where you want a gentler acidic alternative. You should be able to find it in good delis and in some supermarkets.
I love it as an alternative to vinegar and lemon in dressings, tossed over sautéed veggies and also to deglaze the pan juices of meat, cheese and other veggies dishes.
Please note the beautiful white pottery bowl I popped the kale in. Made by one of my fabulous New Zealand aunts who is a very talented potter.