The new Essex Market (with Market Line below) [LES]

I was always a fan of the old Essex Street Market. The new, across Delancey (to the south, obviously), opened several months ago. It’s a splendid recreation, more spacious, better lit, and better organized. It does have a slightly bland, you-could-be-in-any-foodhall-in-any-city-anywhere feel to it, and I do miss the slightly grimy, NYC-specific atmosphere of the old, but I’ll get over it. My favorites above ground in the new place are the same as at the old: Formaggio and Nordic Preserves.

Formaggio is a branch of the famous store in Cambridge, MA, and everything they carry is splendid. They’re well-known enough, that they need no particular boost from me. But Nordic Preserves is one of those underappreciated gems. They carry a wide assortment of smoked fish and, unlike pretty much every other smoked fish purveyor in town (R&D, Barney G, Z, etc.), their stuff is not from Acme. Some of it they even do themselves, as they do their herring and their range of pates.

Flock there, people.

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About a half hour after I posted, I was told that there was a comment on one of those food sites frequented by people with more disposable income than discernment by some Schmoe-the-foodie saying “I haven’t had great luck with Nordic…they sure don’t slice as nicely as Russ and I think they may be getting what Russ doesn’t.” While it’s good that the 1% read us, this is so blatantly ignorant that I think establishing facts is in order. As I said above, pretty much all smoked fish in NYC comes from one source, Acme in Brooklyn. See this, for example:

Acme supplies such area stalwarts as Russ & Daughters, Barney Greengrass and Zabar’s & Co., as well as major retailers like Costco, Target and Wegmans.

Getting “what Russ doesn’t” is ridiculous, unless it’s meant as a compliment. Anybody – you and I, for example – can get what Russ does by getting to Acme when they go retail. And any shop, Target, say, can get that product any time.

The smoked black cod that Nordic sells is different from classic sable and is sliced differently of necessity. Go to both places, look at the fish, and see for yourselves. I do think it’s important to support smaller stores that are trying to do things differently, and maintaining very high quality, rather than mocking them. R&D is indeed a great NYC institution, as is Katz’s, but with a gazillion tourists streaming out of both doors, both will survive. The great small stores need our business, not as an act of charity, but because they do great things.

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The comment about Russ & Daughters being better than Nordic at slicing is accurate (as I noted in the thread you reference). And I doubt that comment was inspired by this thread, since the discussion of Essex Market and its vendors - including Nordic Preserves - started many months ago.

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What, concretely, do you mean by “slicing”? The Acme sable that R&D carries is large and firm, and is sliced diagonally. The smoked black cod at Nordic is a smaller flatter piece of fish and is, of necessity, sliced down mostly vertically. What would you have Nordic do differently with the kind of fish they carry?

I also add that the slicing at R&D is carried out by a varied army of hired help, some better at it than others, while you’re served and sliced at Nordic by one of the owners all of whom have been doing it for years.

I’m not comparing sable to salmon, but rather salmon to salmon. Nordic’s nova is pre-sliced and thicker than Russ & Daughter’s belly lox, which is sliced-to-order. I bought both just this past Friday, so I’m in a good position to make the assessment.

I was talking sable-to-sable, not sable-to-salmon, but …

Salmon-to-salmon, should be belly-to-belly, not belly-to-nova. And sliced-to-sliced should include the same conditions.

I agree that Nordic carries some pre-sliced stuff (and I must ask them why when I’m next there). Comparing one kind of their pre-sliced salmon with another kind of freshly sliced from R&D is grossly unfair. They’ve all kinds of interesting salmon at Nordic, especially in their new digs (try the slightly spicy “hunter’s” next time), that you cannot get at R&D, and which they’ll slice to order. If you can compare freshly-sliced with freshly-sliced of the same type of salmon, you may have a point. If not, not.

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