Tag Archives: fish

First Trip to Russ and Daughters in NYC

Russ and Daughters (179 E Houston, New York City) has been a lower east side fixture since 1914, and is one of New York City’s (and the country’s) best traditional Jewish delis. It is also one of the few business that has “And Daughters” as opposed to “Sons” in the name. We had been meaning to go to Russ and Daughters for probably a decade, but due to a series of circumstances, never made it there on all of trips to NYC. But finally, in October 2019, we did make it! You can recognize the store from down the block due to its original, vintage neon “appetizers” sign emblazoned with fish. What Russ and Daughters sells used to be called “appetizings,” and were considered places to get accompaniments to bagels. Inside and out, we appreciated that the store was reflective of the company’s long heritage: from the painted signs to the glass cases and the vintage-modern packaging.

The inside of the shop is TINY, as you can see below. You take a number and are served in order. You may have to wait a while, as we did, even at the off time of 3pm on Monday. There are two sides to the store, the sweet/bakery and the savory. On the sweet side you can get bagels, rye bread, challah, black and white cookies, babkas (chocolate or cinnamon), halvah, dried fruit, nuts and chocolate-covered sweets by the pound. In the cooler, there are sodas, pickles, and packages of blini ready to go, among other things.

While waiting, we decided to partake in some of the items from the sweet side, since you don’t need a number to buy items. If you are a previous reader of the blog, you may know that we are big fans of babka, an enriched sweet bread with a swirl of flavor, and are always looking out for a new variety. We opted for a slice of chocolate babka ($3 for a slice/ $14 for a whole) and our dining mates got some chocolate orange peel by the pound. The babka, while good, was no match for our favorite babka in the city. It was still very good, and a much needed snack while we waited our turn.

The savory side is the more impressive of the two, and the line belies this fact. Within the immaculate glass cases is a wonderland of cured and smoked fishes available by the pound. I must confess that my knowledge of smoked/cured fish is somewhat limited, though I do like the smoked offerings from Calumet Fisheries. There are no less than a dozen varieties of salmon alone, differing in origin (Norwegian, Irish and Scottish) and preparation (wet-smoked, cured, pastrami-cured, and dry-smoked, between $34 and 54 a pound). We are clueless about the qualities and characteristics of the different types of salmon, so we relied on the clerks for their expert advice. This Bon Appetit article with input by Josh Russ Tupper of Russ and Daughters, also helps break it down. One important distinction we did know, though, is that gravlax/lox is traditionally cured, NOT smoked, as many people think when they hear “lox.” There were other types of smoked fish on offer including: sable, sturgeon, whitefish and tuna ($15 to 56 a pound).

Though the fish are the stars of the show, you can also get other savories by the pound: pickled herring, egg salad, chopped liver, gefilte fish, latkes, caviar and roe of varying types, whitefish salad and knishes (many among other options, ranging between $9 and 25 a lb). We were already fantasizing about the amazing appetizer spread we could make with the endless options. However, if you are feeling like eating your fish right then instead of bringing it home (as we ultimately were), you can get a bagel sandwich, by selecting your individual fillings, or choosing a pre-picked combination. You first select a bagel (plain, sesame, everything, etc.), choose a cream cheese (goat cheese, plain, tofu, etc.), and finally a filling (many fish varieties or egg salad), plus capers and tomatoes for 50 cents extra each. The classic sandwich fillings are freshly sliced from the fish counter: Gaspe Nova, Norwegian smoked salmon, Salt-Cured belly lox, gravlax and more.

M got the Fancy Delancey ($12) which was a smoked tuna sandwich with horseradish dill cream cheese and wasabi flying fish roe, and I got a choose-your-own classic dill-brined gravlax with cream cheese ($13), both sandwiches on sesame bagels. Though the prices may seem a little steep, the bagel sandwiches are stuffed to the brim. The man at the counter sliced the fish with surgical expertise. We appreciated the attention to detail: everything was done in an exacting way, and was not rushed. The fish was superlative, of the highest quality, and melt-in-the-mouth tender. Having cured fish this good really makes you know what you are missing every other time. We could eat this stuff every day! We washed everything down with a classic Dr. Brown’s cream soda, the essential deli accompaniment (Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray is good too). We are so glad that we finally got to Russ and Daughters after all these years. It lived up to the hype, AND it is worth the wait (not often that we say both of those things).

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Bahamian Pot, a taste of the islands in Miami

BahamasWe were cruising around Miami, in the mood for some Caribbean flavors and seafood. Bahamian restaurants, specializing in the nation’s fish-heavy cuisine, dot the city. We heard good things about Bahamian Pot (1413 NW 54th St. Miami, FL), so we decided to pop in for a quick lunch. When we entered, a few tables were full, and people were chatting over glasses of iced tea and huge plates of fried fish and chicken.
BahamianPotWe scanned the tables and pretty much knew what we wanted to order, and what were the specialties of the house (FISH!). The menu was simple: a few breakfast items like fried chicken and waffles and a variety of fried seafood, including shrimp, whole snapper and tilapia. If you are feeling like meat, the oxtail draws praise. Bahamian Pot’s prices were reasonable, with everything falling in the range of $10-15. The portions of the dinner plates were generous and came with 2 sides, which included mac and cheese, plantains, string beans, crinkle-cut fries, okra or beans and rice.

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To start out with, we got conch fritters, and whole breaded tilapia and snapper for entrees. The fish are all fried to order, but before too long, we were presented with steaming plates of fried fish. Everything was tasty and fresh, and the fries that came with the conch are on point. To finish up we highly recommend the guava duff cake, a steamed Bahamian dessert. If you are looking for some down-home Bahamian cooking and are in the mood for seafood, this is the place to come!BahamianSnapper

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Calumet Fisheries, a step back in time to industrial Chicago

We have a tradition when we are returning to Chicago from the East via I-94 – visiting Calumet Fisheries (3259 E 95th St, Chicago, IL)! Calumet Fisheries is an old school fish shack right in the heart of Chicago’s industrial corridor on thr far South side. It is a tiny place, in an almost improbable location. It certainly is a throwback to a different time (family run since 1948), when many of these fish shacks dotted the banks of the Calumet River. However, Calumet Fisheries has not only survived over the years, it has thrived, and received a slew of accolades including a James Beard award in 2010.

Calumet What Calumet Fisheries does is smoked fish, though they have fried options as well. A big seller is smoked shrimp, which is our favorite. You order your fish by the pound (smallest order is the half pound), or get a dinner plate with fries and slaw, and pay in cash. Some of the other smoked seafood options available include: Salmon, Sturgeon, Rainbow Trout and Eel. We never feel like we have room for sides, but there are a range of options including macaroni salad, potato salad, mushrooms and fried pickles.CalumetShrimp

We got a smoked shrimp dinner which came with slaw and fries and a half pound of smoked shrimp. Every order comes with Tartar sauce and a red vinegar sauce (hot or mild). We waited for our order and went to the only option for seating, 1 of 2 outdoor picnic tables. The shrimp still had shells and tails (how we like it) and a delicate smoke flavor. Really good fries, too. It is kind of surreal to eat in a picnic table overlooking the 95th street bridge and a vast (now mostly dormant) industrial landscape on the Calumet River. It is certainly one of the most unique Chicago experiences we have ever had, and one that will transport you straight to the past.

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A Visit to Parson’s Chicken and Fish

Parson’s Chicken and Fish
2952 W. Armitage
Chicago, IL

Being out of the country off and on for nearly 2 years, we tend to be pretty far behind most food trends in Chicago. By the time we go to a restaurant, it has already been written up by everyone and their cousin. However, for once we are able to get somewhere before it has totally fallen off the radar. We had the fortune of visiting one of the hot spots of the summer (complete with outdoor patio): Parson’s Chicken and Fish. We arrived at Parson’s with two of our friends on a Thursday night, which we figured would be a slightly off hour. Fortunately we were right, and were able to get a table for 4 outdoors nearly right away.

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The atmospheric outdoor setting is a large part of Parson’s appeal. The restaurant itself was a former fast food joint, and only has a few booths. However, the outdoor area in back of the restaurant is pretty huge, and consists of semi-shared picnic tables with striped umbrellas, an open air bar, and whimsical strings of Christmas lights everywhere. The atmosphere is convivial, and there is even a ping pong table to keep you occupied if you wait (which you may have to on most nice nights).

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The menu itself is pretty focused, and consists mainly of Southern American classics, especially chicken and fish, as the name would imply. The fried chicken is billed as “Amish” and you can get it grilled or fried (of course we chose fried). The fried chicken, which we figured would be the showpiece of the restaurant, was in fact extremely delicious. The chicken had a savory, crispy cornmeal breading, and was fried to perfection, with a piping hot exterior and juicy interior. We ordered a bucket of chicken for the entire table to share ($24 for the bucket and toast), along with a helping of Texas toast (perhaps our eyes were bigger than our stomachs). The bucket contained about 12 pieces of chicken, and the chicken breasts were cut in half for easier eating – though they were somewhat difficult to identify.???????????????????????????????

We also ordered a basket of fried fish ($16 for 6), which we agreed was somewhat less successful than the fried chicken, and was pretty greasy. We also enjoyed the sides: hush puppies ($4) and ceviche ($10). The ceviche was Mexican style – with a tomato-y sauce – it was good but a somewhat small portion. The hush puppies were heartily enjoyed by all – they were particularly light and fluffy – also full of bacon pieces. We finished up our hearty country picnic with a slice of lemon curd and blueberry pie from the inimitable Bang Bang Pie Shop (the pie changes regularly), which was particularly excellent. With pie like that, we hope to visit the pie shop itself soon. Parson’s Chicken and Fish is a great place for a tasty meal on a nice day, and a large part of the charming experience is being outside. Better get there before fall!

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