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Celebrate the New Catch at the Counter and at The Russ & Daughters Herring Pairing: featuring Wylie Dufresne and John Zorn

May 18th, 2010 · 11:39 am - Jen Snow


New York’s premier appetizing shop celebrates the New Catch at the counter and at The Russ & Daughters Herring Pairing at Astor Center - a one-night-only special event featuring herring and cocktail and spirits pairings with guest chef Wylie Dufresne and a live performance from John Zorn and Friends

Russ & Daughters welcomes the New Catch Holland Herring on June 8. Join us for the traditional first taste of the famed New Catch Holland Herring – “Hollandse Nieuwe” – at the Russ & Daughters counter starting June 8. Then, on June 15, celebrate the New Catch and the wonders of all types of herring at The Russ & Daughters Herring Pairing at Astor Center - an evening of inspired eating and drinking pairings that will include a dish from guest chef Wylie Dufresne and a live performance from John Zorn and friends.

The New Catch Holland Herring is a piece of gastronomic heaven, a fabulous buttery and mild matjes (young) herring unlike any other, due to its exceptionally high and healthy omega-3 fat content.  To herald the official start of this season, the Dutch Queen gives her blessing to the first barrel at port and then these prized herring hit the market as the famed “Hollandse Nieuwe” – “New Catch Holland Herring.” Russ & Daughters is a direct importer, and receives herring from the first delivery of this New Catch to New York. Traditionally, the New Catch Holland Herring is eaten by holding the whole herring – two fillets which are attached by the tail – and dropping it into your mouth. Visitors to Russ & Daughters are likely to see aficionados partaking of this food ritual right at the counter.

This year, to celebrate the New Catch Holland Herring and the wonders of many different herrings, join us for a one-night only special event: The Russ & Daughters Herring Pairing at Astor Center. On June 15, from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., at Astor Center (399 Lafayette Street immediately north of East 4th Street), we will present an evening filled with an assortment of herring preparations, each paired by the Astor Center experts with a specific spirit or mixed drink, perfect for herring aficionados and for newcomers alike. Wylie Dufresne (Chef, wd~50) will serve a herring dish that he created especially for this celebration. His dish will be paired with a cocktail designed for the occasion by Tona Palomino (Bar Manager, wd~50). The event will include a performance by musician John Zorn and friends. And, Mark Russ Federman (Herring Maven Emeritus) will share herring tales.

The Russ & Daughters Herring Pairing is timed to showcase the New Catch Holland Herring at the peak of its season, but the event will also embrace a banquet of other herring styles and preparations – such as pickled, smoked, marinated, and salted herrings. In The New Yorker, Oliver Sacks said of last year’s Russ & Daughters herring event, “It is only on special, joyous occasions that we clupeophiles can come together for a real herring feast.” (The New Yorker, “Talk of the Town: Fish Tales – Clupeophilia,” 7/20/09.) Sacks noted, “The great traditions of herring are maintained by Russ & Daughters, a Houston Street emporium that started as a pushcart on the Lower East Side, nearly a century ago, and still sells the largest variety of herring in New York City.” He added, “There are certain passions – one wants to call them innocent, ingenuous passions – that are great democratizers … At the herring festival, there was no talk about the stock market, or gossiping about celebrities. People had come to eat herring – to savor them, to compare them. In its purest form, this meant seizing the new herring by the tail and lowering them gently into the mouth. The sensation this produces is voluptuous, especially as they slip down the throat.”

“Herring is having a moment,” says Niki Russ Federman, 4th generation Co-owner of Russ & Daughters. “People are catching on to the wonder food that is herring. Herring is delicious, relatively inexpensive, sustainable, and has one of the highest concentrations of omega3s of any food.” Astor Center’s General Manager and resident mixologist Jenn Smith says, “The variety of herring preparations and flavor profiles that will be served at this event proved an interesting challenge for the spirits. Some of the drink pairings we will serve will be classic, while some will be adventurous, even off-beat. There will be both single spirit and mixed drink pairings.”

When planning this year’s event, inviting Wylie Dusfresne and John Zorn to collaborate with us came naturally. Each, in his own field, is a master of craft while pioneering innovation. This spirit of respecting tradition while re-imagining and updating its uses, is something that we see as a running theme through how we approached this event. Astor Center’s motto is “eat, drink, think,” – also a perfect fit. The Russ & Daughters Herring Paring is a celebration of how herring, a primal food with thousands of years of history is also relevant now. Schmaltz herring is one of the first items that Joel Russ sold from his pushcart on the Lower East Side starting in 1907. For over 100 years, herring has been a staple at the Russ & Daughters counter. And, since “appetizing” is one of the few food traditions that actually developed in New York City, herring is a tradition that runs through this city’s streets as well. Certainly a reason to celebrate.

The Russ & Daughters Herring Pairing At Astor Center

June 15, 2010   6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.  $65.00

Astor Center: 399 Lafayette Street, NY, NY 10003

Tickets for this event can be purchased at Russ & Daughters (179 East Houston Street, NY NY 10002), or by calling Russ & Daughters at 212-475-4880.

New Catch Holland Herring can be purchased at Russ & Daughters individually (two fillets attached at the tail) or in packs of ten. Price is determined at auction when the first fish come to port. Last year’s price was $4.49 per herring (two fillets attached at the tail) or $39.95 for a pack of ten herring. For those who want to savor New Catch Holland Herring at home or outside of New York City, the herring can be ordered in the shop, over the phone (212.475.4880), or on our website (www.russanddaughters.com). Russ & Daughters delivers the New Catch Holland Herring by courier in New York City and ships them nationwide.

The New Catch Holland Herring will be available at Russ & Daughters for the duration of their prized, yet limited, season. Russ & Daughters urges customers to place orders to guarantee that they can partake of this ephemeral gastronomic experience.  There is a minimum of one ten-pack for advance orders.  For orders, call 212.475.4800 or visit www.russanddaughters.com.

About Russ & Daughters

Purveyors of the highest quality smoked fish, caviar, and specialty foods, Russ & Daughters is New York’s premier appetizing shop. Since 1914, this landmark New York institution has been continuously owned and operated by four generations of the Russ family. In the same spot on East Houston Street, and run by the same family, for nearly a century, Russ & Daughters continues to provide the tastes, traditions, and old-world class of a true New York experience.

When Joel Russ started peddling herring from a pushcart, could he have imagined a time when the fourth generation of the Russ family would walk, daily, into a landmark appetizing shop hailed by the Smithsonian Institute, the National Register of Historic Places, The New York Times, Gourmet, Martha Stewart, NPR, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, and Vogue – among many esteemed others – for its contribution to New York’s culinary and historical landscape?

Joel Russ, an Eastern European immigrant who arrived in America in 1907, started the business from a pushcart to cater to the throngs of Jewish immigrants settling in New York’s Lower East Side district. In 1920, he opened his store at 179 East Houston Street, after a few years of operating out of a storefront around the corner. In 1933, he renamed the business “Russ & Daughters,” after his three daughters who joined him in the business. Mark Russ Federman succeeded as the 3rd Generation, and is now retired, and at work on his forthcoming memoir, The House That Herring Built (to be published by Schocken/Knopf).  The business is now owned and operated by the 4th Generation of the Russ family: Niki Russ Federman and Joshua Russ Tupper.

Russ & Daughters is located at 179 East Houston Street, between Orchard Street and Allen Street, on the Lower East Side. Orders can be placed in the store, on the phone: 212.475.4880 or 800.RUSS.229, and online at www.russanddaughters.com. Russ & Daughters delivers throughout New York City and ships nationwide.

About Astor Center

Described in Saveur as “the ultimate culinary cultural center,” Astor Center’s mission is to bring people together around the pleasures of the table. Now in their second year of operation, the Astor Center venue offers a robust public calendar of food culture seminars and panel discussions, pairing and tasting events and hands-on cooking and cocktail workshops, hosts private and trade events and supports the local not-for-profit community with development activities. Astor Center’s motto is “eat, drink, think.” Astor Center is located at 399 Lafayette Street, immediately north of East 4th Street in Manhattan.

About Wylie Dufresne

Wylie Dufresne was born in 1970 in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of a designer and a restaurateur. In 1977 he moved to New York. In 1992 he completed a B.A. in philosophy at Colby College, Maine. After college Wylie enrolled at the French Culinary Institute in New York and was then employed at Jo Jo’s from 1994 to 1997. Wylie was hired to work on the opening of Jean Georges, eventually becoming the sous chef. In 1998 Dufresne was hired as chef de cuisine at Vongerichten’s Prime in The Bellagio, Las Vegas. In 1999 he left Prime to become the first chef at 71 Clinton Fresh Food, a 30-seat restaurant on Manhattan’s Lower East Side where his father, Dewey, was a partner. The restaurant’s mission was “fining dining in a casual atmosphere.” The restaurant was a great success and garnered much favorable press attention in spite of a Lilliputian kitchen.

Dufresne opened wd~50 (named for the chef’s initials and the street address), a 70-seat restaurant with a state of the art kitchen, in April of 2003, on Clinton Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. His partners in the venture are Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and restaurateur Phil Suarez. Wylie’s cuisine continues to evolve in terms of technique, utilizing ingredients and equipment that have created a menu notable for its innovation as well as flavor. The restaurant prides itself on the fact that the cooks all work in a collaborative fashion, continually experimenting and sharing ideas.

Wylie and wd~50 have been honored by the following James Beard Award nominations: 2000, Rising Star Chef (while Wylie was the chef at 71 Clinton Fresh Food); 2004, wd~50 for Best New Restaurant; 2008, 2009 and 2010, Wylie for Best Chef, New York City. “Restaurant Magazine” (UK) included wd~50 in the S. Pellegrino World’s Fifty Best Restaurants list, 2005. In 2010 wd~50 was again listed as one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. In New York magazine’s “101 Best Restaurants” edition (January 9, 2006), wd~50 was awarded four stars (out of a potential five) and was ranked fourth restaurant in New York. In May of 2007, Wylie was conferred with an honorary degree of Doctor of Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University. Frank Bruni of the New York Times awarded wd~50 three stars in March of 2008. In 2006, in the Michelin Guide’s inaugural American edition, wd~50 received one star, which it has retained through 2010.

About John Zorn

Since the mid-1970s, John Zorn has been at the center and the forefront of what has come to be called “downtown” music. He lives and works in lower Manhattan. Around 1989, Zorn performed and recorded numerous albums as part of the band Naked City. In 1994, he started Masada, “a four-piece jazz band and songbook project devoted to forging a new form of Jewish music.”  In 1995, Zorn founded the record label Tzadik, which is dedicated to releasing the best in avant garde and experimental music, presenting a worldwide community of contemporary musician-composers who find it difficult or impossible to release their music through more conventional channels. Zorn has served as curator and artistic director at numerous New York music venues, including the Knitting Factory, Tonic, and The Stone (which he founded in 2005).  Zorn nurtures a broad spectrum of experimental performance through Tzadik, and through The Stone, a performance space and incubator for improvisation among rising talent and veteran collaborators.  In awarding him a “genius grant” fellowship in 2006, the MacArthur Foundation said that, “Through all his endeavors, Zorn is defining and championing experimental possibilities in a vibrant and evolutionary music world.”

For more information about The Russ & Daughters Herring Pairing, contact Jen Snow at jen@russanddaughters.com.

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