To me, brunch is about taking your time – to enjoy your morning, to savor carefully prepared food, to live life. As for me, I am a “breakfast girl,” who leaves for work early and in a hurry every day, and who cannot “function” properly without eating first thing in the morning. Under these circumstances, brunch has become a luxury to me – yet, I’ve always wished the situation were different.
Thankfully, I recently got an invitation to brunch which stirred my curiosity – and my appetite! The sender was Ethan Forman, the representative for North America of the famous H. Forman & Son London-based smoked salmon family business. With a tradition of artisan fish curing which spans over 110 years and 3 continents, the name of this company has become synonymous with high quality fish products, crafted to perfection. Brunching on salmon and getting out of the daily routine sounded great, so I happily accepted their invitation.
The brunch preparations were in full swing when I arrived at 3 Greens Market (a hip River North restaurant), with Ethan and his associate adding the final touches to the menu items. We were offered mimosas to make the waiting enjoyable and refreshing. The morning was off to a good start:
Ethan’s great-grandfather Harry Forman came to England from Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, bringing an unrivaled tradition of curing fish onto the British shores. Since then, the family business has expanded considerably, and at the moment H. Forman & Son produces dozens of products and sends shipments from London to Chicago on a weekly basis. They use both wild Scottish and superior farmed Scottish salmon, which arrives at their temperature-controlled London smokehouse in record time. The salmon is trimmed entirely by hand and prepared by following Harry Forman’s original “London Cure” method, without sugar, nitrites or any brine or coloring.
“The freshest salmon, a little salt, just the right amount of oak smoke” – this, in a nutshell, is the H. Forman & Son’s approach to smoking salmon. How did their products fare during my brunch experience, and did they raise to the expectations? I tucked into the salmon as Ethan was explaining the company’s philosophy, and the first item I tried was their signature product, the London Cure smoked Scottish salmon. Delicate and subtle, the salmon was packed with the flavor of the sea. There was no “fishy” smell or taste, but an ocean of fresh and mild deliciousness on my plate. Equally flavorful were the 3 kinds of gravadlax and the cream cheese maki I tried, while the sashimi smoked salmon prime loin was in a league of its own: It simply couldn’t get any fresher than that!
The smoked Dutch eel was one of the highlights of my brunch experience. Paired with three distinct toppings – balsamic glaze, wasabi cream and trout caviar – the eel had a smoky flavor and an enjoyable flaky texture. The smoky eel & sweet balsamic flavor combination was my favorite. I went back to it again, and again, and again…
The trout caviar had a delicate flavor and a pleasing pop finish. I ate it on its own and then on cream cheese crostini. So good!
I also tried the H. Forman & Son’s smoked yellowfin tuna, made using sustainable fish from the Indian Ocean. Served with extra virgin olive oil and capers, the tuna had an assertive flavor and was surprisingly soft and delicate. Another quality product, treated with care and respect by the fish experts back in London.
H. Forman & Son’s products are currently served in many restaurants, hotels and high end gourmet retailers such as Eataly, Pastoral, Plum Market, 3 Arts Cafe etc. You can check out their website for a list of stockists. You can also order their products online at www.formansusa.com – use code Panini20 to save 20%.
I thoroughly enjoyed my recent brunch experience both in terms of the quality of the gourmet products I tried and of the knowledge I gained about curing fish. I also appreciated the honesty of the H. Forman & Son approach. They display honesty in the quality of the fish used, honesty throughout the flavor development process, and honesty in their commitment to best practices in their field. With smoked salmon of such high quality, brunches can no longer be boring 🙂
*Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated by H. Forman & Son for this post. All opinions expressed here are my own.