When I was four years old, my aunt and my mother left me unattended in the kitchen while they quickly went to handle something before a huge crowd arrived for brunch.
I climbed the mountainous bar stool and sat daintily on the edge of the kitchen island. Seeing an unknown food — pale, orange and gleaming — artfully strewn across my Aunt Elaine’s good platter was too much for me to resist, I took a fistful and stuffed it into my mouth.
Family legend states that day, I consumed a pound of belly lox and two of nova before they returned. There might have been no bagels and lox for the out-of-towners that day, but a smoked fish freak was born.
And wouldn’t you know? There’s a place I can get my fix on the North Fork so I don’t have to drive all the way to Russ & Daughters: The North Fork Smoked Fish Company
Phil Karlin, stand up guy, commercial fisherman and my Cutchogue neighbor, smokes some of his catch from the Long Island Sound and creates products that are delicious and fresh. They’re sold as filets or made into fantastic dips that I like to serve as appetizers or in omelets or one time — in a desperate moment — sucked from my bare fingers.
The Blue Fish Pate is rich and salty and creamy and pretty much kicks ass. I love it paired with sparkling wine or the Paumanok Vineyards Chenin Blanc on crackers or cucumbers or even licked off a guest’s face. People discount blue fish because it’s ugly and hard to work with, but in this state, it feels special and lux. For those of you who will continue to irrationally hate blue fish, the regular Fish Pate is pretty good too and filled with Haddock and Pollock and won’t offend your bullshit aversion.
The Norwegian Smoked Salmon Dip and the Salmon Filet give you all the greatness of traditional lox with a few additional elements. There’s not a bunch of filler, everything in the dip belongs there and melds together. It’s great on bagels (duh) and the filet flakes beautifully and is incredibly versatile. They should be a brunch staple in everyone’s home. I watched a two and a half year old eat some of the salmon filet last week and was happy knowing my legacy lives on.
Full disclosure: I have yet to try the Smoked Sea Scallops and Caribbean Dip. But now I have something to look forward too while the rest of you are dead inside.
I am excited to see what Phil comes up with next and unluckily for him I have his home address. As for you? This is where it gets exciting. You can get the stuff from North Fork Smoked Fish Co. in New York City as well as the North Fork as well anywhere in the WORLD.
See below for information or visit one of my favorite restaurants in NYC — Northern Spy Food Company — to taste their bluefish rillettes made from this fish.
Out East: North Fork Smoked Fish Co. has limited product at their affiliated store, (run by the family) in Riverhead: PE &DD Seafood’s Little Fish Shop – 833 Middle Rd. Riverhead, New York 11901
Manhattan: You can find these items at the P.E. & D.D. stand at the Union Square Greenmarket on Mon. and Sat. and at the Abingdon Square Greenmarket on Sat. or at Lifetyme Market: 410 6th Avenue NY, NY 10011
If you the type that wants things brought to you (I can relate), you can purchase on at Online at http://northforksmokedfish.com/