After my shift at Dirt Candy today, I was beat. It was fun, but it is also tiring being on one’s feet all day, running around, squeezing in between bodies and walls and down into basement cellars, navigating fridges full of pints and quarts, etc. I have huge respect for people who do this work every day all day, ever since working at Rebar back in Victoria, and the staff at Dirt Candy are no exception.
I had a bit of time before heading over to the west side to visit the opening for YSFP staff emerita Amy Jean Porter‘s exhibition of illustrations for the book ‘Of Lamb‘, and I was in the mood for a bit of a special something after my first day on the job. Hey, I’d made it through my whole prep list, didn’t get too many cuts to speak of, and didn’t burn down the whole restaurant, so in my books it was a pretty successful day, as far as first days will allow. I’d been wanting to try Russ & Daughters for a while, so I biked down Avenue A and sauntered, aching, down Houston to the glass storefront.
Russ & Daughters is a venerable Manhattan Establishment. It is has been one of the city’s best purveyors of smoked fish, caviar, and other specialty products of the old world since 1914, and it’s still going strong. I was waiting to sample their bagels and lox for the perfect day, and today was it. It was blustery and ominous all day, with cooler temperatures, spots of rain, and pervasive humidity. I was ready for a bit of real deal luxury.
The man at the counter was exceedingly personable and helpful. He helped me design a mini-bagel treat, and even insisted I sample two types of smoked salmon before deciding which would adorn my humble, poppy-seeded ring of dough. The miniature bagel was the perfect size for a late afternoon snack; one side slathered with their original cream cheese and one with a variety that uses goat’s milk instead, so it has all that luscious tanginess; I opted for the saltier, punchier house-cured salmon, done in the old style; and to finish it off, he gilded my petite confection with a spoonful of wasabi-infused roe. I thanked him and eagerly made for the wrought-iron bench outside the shop.
Check out that marbling on the fish, and the colour of that roe. Amazing.
This was exactly what I wanted – something dense, compact, and satisfying, yet light and textured and fun too. The bagels were fresh and supple, well-designed for their purpose as vehicle for splendor. Then it was everything – tangy and creamy, salty and briny and incredibly fresh, and that lovely burst of sinus and palate-cleansing cold heat paired with the sprightly, monadic texture of the roe. Pleasing to the eye, nose, tongue (both in flavour and mouthfeel!), and ear (there is nothing like the sound of popping roe) all at once.
Needless to say this made my bike over to the west side that much easier.
I also checked out the new section of the High Line before heading to the gallery. Pretty cool stuff.
A captivating birdhouse installation. Photography cannot do it justice.
The billboard frame looking east down W 26th makes everything seen through it art.