Let me tell you a funny story….or one that still gives me, and those that were there to experience this event, a chuckle to this day. We’ve all (or at least most of us) have experienced the post drinking munchies, usually opting for something greasy, a slice of pizza, or a dirty dog from a street vendor. Its not typical that one would crave oysters, as is no secret that I do, and its definitely far from the norm to indulge in herring. Thats right, herring!
Oktoberfest 2009…for those that have not had the privilege of experiencing this two week celebration of harvest in the form of large steins of beer, it is one that I highly recommend, and am quite the fan of, having attended three years in a row. To describe it in a post dedicated to herring, would not do it justice. So I will skip to the basics, and render you the information necessary to fully appreciate this story. After a day of several freshly brewed steins of beer, many prosts (cheers), and singing American songs in arms with our new friends, it was time for some post drinking munchies. I am not sure what the initial draw was, but unlike the rest of the crew, I went straight for a herring sandwich. Two fillets in a baguette with olive oil and fresh onion. One down, and I wanted more. Being that its a carnival of many vendors, there was much herring to go around…second sandwich was followed by a third, a third by a fourth, and finally just the fillets of a fifth. A debauchery I still can not explain to this day, it was quite amusing at the time, not so much the next day, but nonetheless the commencement of my love for herring.
So upon learning that a favorite oyster spot, Grand Central Oyster Bar, would be hosting a Holland Herring Festival, I was jittery with excitement. A festival dedicated to herring?….yes please!
Once a year, in the month of June, the fleet docks at Scheveningen, The Netherlands, on the North Sea bringing in the cream of the crop, fresh herring, known as “nieuwe maatjes”. And Grand Central Oyster gets the first air shipment. Per Chef Sandy Ingber, the fish is caught, briefly dipped into brine, and shipped over night. The festival kicks off with a ceremony, and we were there to experience the first taste of the season!
After a dozen oysters, some incredibly large Dabobs, Quilcenes from Washington, and a few local blue points, we were ready to take on the tasting.
Served along side chopped eggs, and sweet onions, it was truly a herring miracle. Incredibly fresh and tender, it melted away in our mouths. Did I want a second serving?..absolutely!! Had it not been a shortly timed lunch break away from the office, things could have gotten dangerous. But with two more weeks left, I will surely be back for more. And as I highly recommend an Oktoberfest experience, I do not think this herring should be missed either. And the plus side is its just a subway ride away.
Grand Central Oyster Bar
89 E 42nd St
New York, NY 10168
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