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BAEGOALS at Russ and Daughters

(Image courtesy of Russ and Daughters)

I was thirteen years old when I went to New York City for the first time. It was a layover at JFK; my 8th-grade class and I were about to embark on the famous 8th grade Israel trip. Before landing in New York, my classmates told me how excellent New York cuisine is. To my dismay, my airport bagel did not live up to the lofty compliments of my middle school peers. After finishing the bagel, I thought, how could this be the epicurean capital of the United States.

(Image courtesy of Media From Wix)

Since my layover adventure, I have visited New York several times. This story takes place almost a decade after my first visit. It was the summer of 2019, and I graduated from UCF that May. I was visiting the city with my mom, sister, and brother. The New York food scene was dynamic, but I was on a quest to find the pinnacle of New York City's delis.

(Image courtesy of Russ and Daughters)

One of the days, we made a pilgrimage to Russ and Daughters. Russ and Daughters is a New York institution. Once we got to our table, I had the opportunity to try some of the best food I ever had. My middle school peers were right. While I ate my meal, I was in the city's version of the Metropolitan Museum of Culinary Art.

(Image courtesy of New York Times. Behind the store’s counter are blue caviar tins, a row of cinnamon and chocolate babka, stacks of bagels and bialys and shopping bags that feature the original design.Credit:Paul Quitoriano)

From the blog's get-go, I wanted to interview Russ and Daughters. After a year of hard work, I finally had the chance to speak with Aliza G. to learn more about the crowing jewel of the New York food scene.

(Image courtesy of Russ and Daughters)

1. How does Russ and Daughters define the New York City food scene?

It’s dynamic, but the culinary scene is energized by the myriad traditions that influence it. Nothing stays the same, but also, the classics have endured. We have immigrants to thank for all of this. Both for the food that finds a home here, and the individuals that make it happen.

(Image courtesy of New York Times. Image depicts The Yum Kippered board. Credit:Benjamin Petit for The New York Times)

2. What makes Russ and Daughters restaurants different from other restaurants?

Russ and Daughters Cafe on 127 Orchard St. opened in 2014. It is the restaurant version of Russ & Daughters in the sense that you can get served while sitting and enjoying our appetizing foods. Our original shop, however, is not a restaurant. It’s an appetizing store that opened in 1914. The smell of all the smoked fish, pickles, breads, chocolates, fruits, coffee—it creates a heady aroma that nourishes nostalgia if you’re a longtime customer, or lets you slip into another time and place. Whether you’re eating at our sit-down Cafe, bringing our food home, or placing an order for nationwide shipping, we emphasize heimish (Yiddish for “hominess”) first. No pretension, but at the same time, paying attention to quality and tradition.

(Image courtesy of New York Times. Russ & Daughters, at 179 East Houston Street, in 2018.Credit:Paul Quitoriano)

3. Why should tourists and locals dine at Russ and Daughters restaurants?

We’re fourth-generation torchbearers of appetizing foods. For those who think it’s a legacy worth enjoying and preserving, it’s a must-stop on your trip. We bake our own baked goods the old-fashioned way, source the best possible fish, and put a lot of love into the food we make and serve. We are loved for our bagels and lox, but if you eat here frequently, you’ll find there’s much to explore—and to get to know! Our counter staff are local celebrities; some have worked with us for several decades.

(Image courtesy of Russ and Daughters. Image depicts Anne Russ Federman (right), one of the three daughters of the store’s founder, Joel Russ, with her husband, Herb Federman, behind the counter in the 1960s purveying white fish, kippered salmon and other delicacies. Image found on )

4.What is the future of dining at Russ and Daughters restaurants?

Doing what we do best, and adapting to the times for the next 108++ years.

(Image courtesy of Russ and Daughters)


Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

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