I rushed over to Russ & Daughters today to sample the delicious new catch Holland herring. The famed appetizing store's co-owner, Niki Russ Federman, says it's a bit like cherry blossom season – and just about as fleeting. Every year at about this time, herring in the North Sea reach their optimal condition. The event is a national holiday in Holland. The queen takes the first ceremonial taste. Russ & Daughters actually contacts the Dutch embassy to find out when these silvery beauties will be arriving. You can try them at the counter starting today for about the next four weeks.
The new catch Holland herring taste a lot more like sushi than any herring I've ever tried. They're creamy and mild, and have just a hint of salt. Niki showed me how they're eaten. First you roll the herring in chopped onion, then grab it by the tail and lower it into your mouth. Some people eat the whole thing (they're about six inches long) at once.
Niki says they've been importing these delicacies for about 10 years. They become a little more popular every year. Next Wednesday, Russ & Daughters will be hosting a herring and aquavit festival, featuring all sorts of herring, in the newly renovated penthouse at the Roger Smith Hotel. You can find out more information on R&D's web site.
The new catch holland herring cost $4.49 each or $39.95 for a full try. You can buy them in the store or have them shipped.