Set on Windmill st, just off Tottenham Court rd, Boopshi’s was relatively quiet on a Saturday afternoon, and a thoroughly pleasant place for a late lunch. It’s bright and airy in a way that “modernized Austrian schnitzel joint” just does not suggest. It’s more style bar than beer cellar, and I absolutely do mean that in the good way. It’s tasty.
Eating in London, I seem to wind up at these mildly-ridiculous monoconcept noshing houses. As a grotesque self-parody, I’m ok with this, and Boopshi’s is another good one. So was Bubbledogs, who only serve champagne and hot dogs, and you can probably guess what Garlic and Shots do. They’re on the list for next time.
Boopshi’s serve schnitzel and spritz. Schnitzel and spritz are good, and we had plenty of both on our trip round central Europe last year. Oh, they have other things too, things I’d like to go back and try, but the stars are the schnitzel and spritz.
Cooking two fiddly and elaborate fried starches just because you can’t make up you mind which you want is more or less canonically indulgent. Nonetheless, that’s what I did on Thursday. I’d not made croquetas before, and something about the idea of frying dollops of sauce just didn’t seem quite right. Into that uncertainty crept all sorts of thoughts about adding potato which didn’t seem quite right either.
So it was a bet-hedging exercise. There’d be croquettes if the croquetas didn’t work out, and no need to run either by trying to combine both.
To spoil the ending, it mostly worked. The croquetas suffered from not being deep-fried, an instruction I was foolish to ignore. The croquettes were just a little too doughy, and this again was a simple, fixable, process error.
Kabanos are salty, smoky, relentlessly moreish, and have thankfully become more and more readily available at passable quality in supermarkets. I picked some up this evening, and was casting about for something to do with them. So I ended up making this by mistake.
The most promising recommendation was bigos, a Polish hunters’ stew which sounds seriously tasty, and which I think I may have eaten at Polonia some time last year. It’s all earthy flavours and cabbage. Unfortunately the recipe I was linked to rendered like arse on my phone and I got very confused about the ingredients.
So I impulse-bought some sauerkraut, and served it on the side of a very basic butter bean stew.
This is just what it looks like,really. I fried a couple of onions, added garlic, sliced kabanos, and flat-leaf parsley. Once it has worked together and the onions were soft, in went a couple of tins of butter beans, three diced tomatoes, some vegetable stock and a little thyme. It simmered for about 20 minutes, and reduced more harshly for another 10 or so.
In hindsight, I should have made the bigos, and I will. But the simple flavours and the smooth richness of the beans lets the smokiness of the sausage stand at the front, and the sauerkraut is a delicious piquant offset. So I’m calling this a lucky break.
That said, some root vegetables would help a lot. I guess that’s what I get for blundering around Tesco in a daze.
Next to the sauerkraut in the supermarket, however, were several types of croquette. And this has me thinking. So tomorrow or Thursday is likely ground-zero for working a lot of potato and stiff Béchamel together with various fillings and getting down to some aggressive frying. Fuck, but croquettes are splendid.
I worked up a revised version of this for the book, adding the sauerkraut to the stew: