Russ & Daughters — the awesome appetizing shop on Houston Street you should be visiting as often as your waistline allows — has come a long way since Joel Russ started out selling herring from a pushcart in 1907. Beyond the multiple flavors of smoked salmon, caviar, cream cheese, sable and sturgeon now served up at the jam-packed space itself (profiled in our Back of the House column earlier this year) they now stock at least eight kinds of herring, including pickled, with mustard and dill, in curry sauce and in cream sauce with onions. But the most rare variety arrives today: the New Catch, aka the very first fishies from the 2010 haul in Holland, aka the Hollandse Nieuwe.
Two years back, we wrote about the famous new catch herring fests at Aquavit and Grand Central, both of which are slated to start this week, but they take tiny fishes just as seriously Russ & Daughters. Back in Holland, the Dutch Queen gives her blessing to the first of these babies before they leave on their watery journey west, and R&D is always allotted a piece of that very first barrel. We’ve been told these little matjes (that’s Dutch for young) herring are buttery and mild, bursting not just with ultra-flavorful fat but omega-3 fatty acids… which is why we’ve been waiting for this day ever since we visited in February.
That’s when we were also told that you’re supposed to pop the whole thing — actually two fillets still attached at the tail — right into your mouth, which people do on the spot all day. We have big plans to do exactly that in a matter of hours. (Of course, you can also order em online.)
Better still, Russ & Daughters’ has planned an over-the-top many-herring pairing dinner (we love that!) at Astor Center on June 15th with fellow Lower East Sider Wylie Dufresne (the chef of WD-50), a live performance from John Zorn and Friends and of course, plenty of new catch herring. Details on that dinner are right here.