Dutch Treat From The Lower East Side

July 7th, 2012 § 0 comments

Strolled through the Lower East Side with SJ. Gazed with wonder at the new art galleries, hip restaurants and bars, chic clothing shops (How about 500 bucks for a pair of jeans?). The Essex Street Maket (which used to be a cluttered, ramshackle affair) has now been revitalized and offers artisan cheeses (Saxelby Cheese Mongers) and superb butchers (Heritage Meat Shop) with wonderful charcuterie, fresh meats and fowl. Boubouki, perhaps the greatest Greek pastry shop in existence, offers savory spinach pies and, hands down, the best baklava HG and SJ have ever tasted. Eccentric restaurateur Kenny Shopsin ( a Calvin Trillin favorite) has relocated here from the West Village. HG and SJ ended their stroll on Houston Street at the venerable Russ & Daughters, the best smoked fish emporium in the world.

June is the season for delicious raw herring from Holland. When HG was in Amsterdam he ate scores of these yummies. The ritual is this: Dip the herring in chopped onion. Take a bite. Then a shot of chilled Genever gin. Beer for a chaser. Then repeat and repeat as the sense of euphoria expands. Russ & Daughters (and the Grand Central Oyster Bar) are the only sources in New York for this seasonal delicacy. SJ ordered a platter of the Dutch herring plus some sable, Scottish smoked salmon, red salmon caviar, cream cheese, bagels and bialys. Back to the SJ Brooklyn home for a feast. Present were the SJ family plus HG daughter Vicki and her chef husband Marc Meyer, the dynamic duo behind three New York restaurants — Cookshop, Five Points, Hundred Acres. Vicki and Marc brought a bottle of upscale Genever plus splendid wine. Also present was SJ pal Jay S. (and his bride to be Maya T.). Much joy. Much laughter. Some gin-fueled inebriation. Nothing beats family feasting. And, while much has changed on the Lower East Side, Russ and Daughters has remained the same. A taste monument.

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