For herring lovers, June is the busiest month. That’s when the restaurant Aquavit holds its annual Herring Week (June 15–21), and when the Hollandse Nieuwe (or New Catch Holland herring) arrives at Russ & Daughters (June 9; on the 17th, the shop co-hosts its own herring-and-aquavit festival at the Roger Smith Hotel). Unlike the excellent firm-fleshed and variously pickled herring sold at the shop year-round, these rich and fatty mouth-waterers are soft and buttery and just barely cured on deck as soon as they’re caught.
The best way to eat a New Catch Holland herring is as soon as possible—at the point of purchase, even. If you’re so inclined, no one will stop you from doing so at the Russ & Daughters counter. There is a technique, however. According to co-owner Joshua Russ Tupper, the way to do it is to (1) chop up some white onion, (2) grab the attached herring fillets by the tail, and roll them around in the onion. Tilt your head back, and (3) basically lower the fish into your mouth like a Hanna-Barbera cartoon cat.