Austrian liver dumpling soup. I’ll admit, it doesn’t sound particularly appetising but then neither did a sausage containing cheese, and that turned out to be a delicious component of my ‘hot sausage meal’ at Kipferl Austrian deli in Farringdon. This tiny space accommodates just six tables and several shelves of Austrian wines, bread and countless unfamiliar jars and bottles. You can also buy liver dumplings.
When we arrived for lunch at 12.30pm two of the tables were already reserved and we were lucky that one ‘very regular’ customer was just leaving.
Kipferl serves Viennese breakfast, cakes, cold platters, filled rolls, soups, salads and of course, those ‘hot sausage meals’ which sounded like just the ticket for a rainy January Monday. I hastily ordered the ‘Kipferl special’ with käsekrainer, then caught sight of the sausage with sauerkraut and pickles – a meal that sounds like it was made specially for me – and promptly started sulking.
The owner asked us what kind of sausage we would like. Er… He explained that a weiner would be your standard Austrian wurst (like a Frankfurter), the debreziner spicy and the käsekrainer – a sausage with cheese. CHEESE. It sounded odd, which of course meant that I had to have it.
It was surprisingly good. Tiny chunks of silky mellow cheese melt as the sausage is heated, creating an uncommonly juicy banger with a milky luxuriance that could easily be sickly if it wasn’t so well balanced. I particularly enjoyed the tight, crisp casing of the käsekrainer, which was so tense that every cut made me lean back slightly for fear of receiving a burst of molten pork fat to the eye. The accompanying salads were, I was relieved to find, lightly soused. This eased my regret at not ordering the sauerkraut and pickles and counteracted the succulent sausage perfectly; meaty lentils, soft potatoes and fresh, dill feathered cucumbers. A slice of rye and a dollop of mustard were both very welcome guests at the party; the bread enabling a little light sandwich making and the mustard offering a placid, sweet tang.
The liver dumpling soup turned out well too. All you do (according to Kipferl’s owner – oh how I wish I’d asked his name), is plop the dumplings into simmering vegetable stock before garnishing with chives. One dumpling per person or two if you are very hungry. Of course, I did two. The stock I made heavy on the alliums, what with onions and liver being such happy partners. The dumplings taste a lot like faggots but with a slightly finer texture; since a primary ingredient of faggots is pig’s liver, this is hardly surprising.
I could really get into Austrian food. Firstly, they love pork. I think we all know where I stand on that one. Secondly, they love pickles and well, do I really need to repeat the story about me eating so many pickles as a child that my lips would turn white? I’ve not managed to achieve that as an adult but believe me, it’s not for lack of trying.
I highly recommend seeking out Kipferl if you are in the area, but do consider reserving a table. The website also advises that ‘good things take time’ and so if you are in a hurry, they advise calling ahead so that they can have your order ready when you get there.
70 Long Lane
020 7796 2229
First make a vegetable stock using two onions, 1 leek (split in half and well rinsed), several cloves of garlic, 2 carrots, 2 sticks of celery, 2 bay leaves, 10 peppercorns, some parsley stalks and any other veg trimmings you have lying around. Add some salt. Cover with water and simmer for about 45 minutes. Strain through a sieve then adjust the seasoning. (Gently frying the vegetables first in a little oil helps to increase depth of flavour but I forgot this time).
Return the stock to the pan before adding two liver dumplings per person. Simmer gently for twenty minutes. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped chives.