Nothing quite says early summer in the city like herring, at least if you happen to be at Aquavit. Every year the restaurant celebrates the start of herring season, more or less at the same time as folks in Scandinavia do.

Gothamist had the pleasure of attending a luncheon to kick off Aquavit's annual herring week, which runs from June 11-16 this year. There was plenty of herring to be had in various guises, including pickled. There were also shots of the restaurant's namesake liquor, aquavit, a spirit distilled from potato and flavored with carraway and other herbs. There's nothing quite like a wee dram of this stuff infused with horseradish to kick off the afternoon. And of course it went swimmingly with the tidbits of herring.

2007_05_foodherring.jpgOne of the tastiest things we sampled was the matjes herring (left), its sugar and allspice cure imparted a pleasantly unexpected flavor to the fish and gave it a melting texture that married perfectly with the dollop of sour cream. We can assure you that the bit of reddish flesh perched atop a cracker is not a red herring, but a morsel of tuna dressed with matjes juice. There was even a herring pizza of sorts (far right), which consisted of thin slices of pickled herring sitting on a flatbread smeared with tomato and topped with microgreens.

And how does one end such a fish-laden luncheon? With a bit of rose hip soup. The tart rose hips were blended to a smoothielike consistency and sweetened just enough making for a pleasant palate cleanser.

Herring Week at Aquavit, June 11-16, 65 E 55th Street, (212) 307-7311