I get to do some pretty exciting things these days, and a lot of them I get to call work, which is really a huge pleasure. The latest of these things, and probably the best to date, was ‘Popstrami’, a pop-up NY style kosher deli that I helped to run yesterday in Bournville. It was the brainchild of friend and long-time customer of Loaf Nick Loman, who was inspired by trips to such places on his American travels, and I think just wanted to get himself a decent meat sandwich in Birmingham! The date was set, the venue was changed (twice), the team was assembled, and the recipes were tested, adjusted, re-tested, re-adjusted, re-re-tested, and finally multiplied up to feed the hoards. We all started the day at about 8am – me to bake the bialy’s, Nick to get the meat steaming, and Hannah, Amy, and Mark to turn Leverton and Hall’s into an American Deli. Gordon, the babka-touting barista, swung by my place in his Landy defender and gave me a ride with my rye loaves and bialy’s at about 10am, and we were followed by Lap and his awesome vanilla cheesecakes half an hour later.
We swung open the door at 11.30 and the customers trickled in for the first half hour, sampled the sandwiches and gave us some lovely feedback. Come 12 noon, 3 or 4 people had started to queue to get in, and by 1.30pm the queue stretched to the corner of Mary Vale Road, about 50 people long. We owe you guys a lot for bearing with us, thanks so much for sticking around in the queue – we had to wait for the meat to be suitably steamed so it was warm and tender for you, we didn’t want to rush and serve anything substandard. The feedback remained good all day, despite some customers queuing for 2 hours for a sandwich. The team grew from 5 to 7 to 10 by the end of the day (thanks so much to Mark, Amy, Mike, and Nick’s parents for jumping in head first). The vibes were great with fab American music in the back room (see playlist at the bottom of this post), and the American soda’s going down a treat (Wild Cherry Pepsi was so popular!). We killed the queue at 4.30 as we were running out of food – I even had to run home and grab some more bread to feed the last few people in the queue. We ended, over 180 sandwiches later, at about 5pm with champagne and meat sandwiches for the team. What a flipping day!