Jimmy Carbone, proprietor of the eponymous East Village gastropub, has always had an open mind when it comes to various cuisines of the world. The rathskellerlike space has been invaded by mobs of Dutch clamoring for new herring as well as Japanese hungering for Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki. The latest entry into the increasingly global roster is Danish smoerrebroed, or open-face sandwiches as envisioned by Trine Hahnemann, author of The Scandinavian Cookbook.
Before flying to New York for a pre-Easter luncheon on Palm Sunday, Hahnemann baked several loaves of traditional rye bread back home and packed them in her luggage. I had volunteered to help out that day. Given my limited knife skills—and the fact that Cathy Erway and other helpers were also on hand—I was charged with buttering slices of the hearty bread. I also had the pleasure of tearing up a pound or so of Russ & Daughters smoked mackerel with my bare hands.
In addition to the mackerel—which was accompanied by raw onion, capers, radish, chives, and egg—the menu included this Russ & Daughter's herring plate. Chunks of earthy beet root, a slick of horseradish, and a tangle of dill gracefully complemented the rich oiliness of the fillets. Whoever buttered the slab of bread studded with rye berries that underpinned the whole affair had some serious butter knife skills.
The event was such a success that Jimmy's weekend lunch menu has gone entirely Danish, and will feature a selection of smoerrebroed ($8 each) made with various meats, vegetables, and fish. Carbone is looking into having Tom Cat produce a version of Hahnemann's bread. For now he's going with a selection of their whole-grain bread. Since there's always a selection of Danish craft beers available finding a paring was somewhat easier than recreating the bread. For a locavore brew, look no further than Six Point Righteous Rye.
Jimmy's No. 43
43 East 7th Street, New York NY 10003 (Second/Third avenues; map)