My first mission during a recent week-long stay in New York City was to get my grubby little hands on some proper bagels, lox, and cream cheese, preferably all three smooshed together in sandwich form. There’s something about the combination of hearty carbohydrates paired with creamy fat and salty protein that I find immensely satisfying. I’d eat these three items every morning if I could.
Russ and Daughters has been perfecting the art of Jewish appetizing in Manhattan’s Lower East Side since 1914. Among American Jews residing in New York City, “appetizing” is used as a noun by itself to refer to the foods eaten with bagels.
The small, standing room only shop sells chocolates and baked goods in addition to an eye-catching array of dairy and “pareve” (neither dairy nor meat) appetizing. While I was taken aback by the fluorescent quality of the fish roe, The Astronomer was surprised by the availability of tofu-based cream cheeses. The air was thick with the wonderful smell of smoked fish; I wanted to eat everything in sight.
On our first visit to Russ and Daughters, The Astronomer and I shared a plain bagel with Norwegian salmon, capers, and a schmear of decadent caviar cream cheese ($9.45). The caviar-laden spread, which cost us two extra bucks, earned its keep with each savory pop. The characteristically chewy bagel matched the filling in greatness.
On trip number two to Russ and Daughters the following day, The Astronomer and I shared an everything bagel with lox cream cheese ($3.45). ‘Tis impossible to go wrong with smoked salmon and cream cheese married into one spread. Impossible.
On my short list of perfect meals, the Jewish-American triple threat of smoked fish, bagels, and cream cheese ranks near the top. Truly, only a superb Asian noodle soup and a well-crafted banh mi can dare to compete with this thoroughly delicious package.
Russ and Daughters
179 East Houston Street
New York, NY 10002