Monday, 13 December 2010

Make (up) your very own grape chutney

We MIAMI girls meet regularly – every week or two – in one of our homes, the day’s business (slightly) broken by a homemade lunch. Today, in honour of Christmas, we moved off piste and into the creative surrounds of The British Film Institute on London’s Southbank. More specifically we gathered in the ground floor Benugo Bar and when lunchtime came around, it being Christmas (did I mention that already?), we chose an a' la carte lunch and were lucky enough to be served by the lovely Wes, straight from Toronto (that's him on the left). 

Our treat – and the real purpose of this blog, was the discovery with the cheese course of a fantastic grape chutney which none of us had ever heard of before. As the team by now felt Wes was our new best friend, we asked outright: what was in it and how was it made. Enter Carlos, our bearded chef (his braised squid was pretty tasty too).

As you can see, Wes and Carlos were only too pleased to hand over a list of ingredients for this especially Christmassy and fresh tasting chutney – just perfect with cheese.

  • Bramley Apple
  • White Onion
  • Red grapes
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • Brown sugar
  • Lemon juice
  • Cinnamon
  • Ground ginger
But it was a list. What we don't have are the quantities or instructions, so here goes my best guess (you may have a better idea or two): 

As this is a fresh tasting, ready-to-eat-immediately kind of chutney, I’d be inclined to first cook everything in a large pan (going easy on the vinegar and sugar) except for the grapes, lemon juice and spices. Maybe one large or two smaller onions, one large chopped Bramley apple – and cook slowly but not for as long as a regular chutney – perhaps an hour or so. Then add in the lemon juice (I wonder what a bit of the grated zest would be like?), the grapes (go for really red skins – Chef Carlos said the batch we ate used fab, fat red grapes), and the spices. I reckon another 40 minutes should do it. The texture should be sludgy and the grapes smashed, but evident.

Who knows what it will taste like – all I know is that what we ate was not too sweet, not cloying and had fresh, cinnamonny overtones. Lovely. My daughter’s going to try some later this later this week to make as gifts for her family... what a great Christmas present... and thank you Carlos for your genius and Wes for being a fab waiter and story-teller.

Clare OB


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  2. Thank you Clare. Here's the rough measures that I used for my batch of grape chutney and it tastes yummy:
    4 medium Bramley Apples
    2 medium White Onions
    1.4 kg Red grapes
    200 ml red wine vinegar
    1 teaspoon Salt
    150 g brown sugar
    Juice of 1 lemon
    1 tsp Cinnamon
    1 tsp Ground ginger