Almost every article about New York deli Russ & Daughters begins by talking about the iconic trio of smoked salmon, bagels, and cream cheese. And truthfully, this Lower-East-Side institution does all of that very, very well, but that's hardly the whole story.
First of all, thanks to the glory of the internet, they have expanded past their classic New York origins... Russ & Daughters is a fourth-generation-run classic "appetizing" store. As Jewish dietary law says meat and dairy may not be sold together, an appetizing store sells fish, dairy, and sweets, while a delicatessen sells meats. Here you'll find half-a-dozen kinds of salmon, old-fashioned bagels, classic spreads like whitefish and chopped liver, and ten kinds of cream cheese (Caviar Cream Cheese! Lox Spread! Horseradish Cream Cheese!).
The line for getting expertly sliced fish is understandably long and the store is tiny, but you can slip right past the line to get to the gourmet cheeses, handmade chocolates, and their house brand of babka and strudel. If you're used to tough, sunflower-oil-covered dried fruit from the supermarket, make sure you try some from the huge bins at the front of the store. It's soft, fresh, and intensely flavorful.
Bring your grandmother here. She'll get the old-fashioned chocolate jelly rings and some beet, apple, and herring salad. Or she might surprise you by purchasing Chocolat Moderne's "The Player" -- a dark chocolate flavored with single malt scotch.
Russ & Daughters also has what just might be the best breakfast sandwich in the city: The Super Heeb. A great chewy bagel is first spread with fluffy whitefish salad and horseradish cream cheese. Then they improve on perfection by adding wasabi-flavored flying fish roe, for an insanely good combination of textures, with intense flavor and gentle heat.
Those of you not in New York, don't despair. Russ & Daughters ships.
This is by Nina, who is up for one of our new writer positions. Welcome Nina!