The Jew And The Carrot

Why Montreal Bagels Are Better!

By Anne Cohen

Wikimedia Commons
St-Viateur Bagels in Montreal

Dear New York City bagel-lovers,

As a Montreal export to New York, I take offense at your treatment of our version of the mouthwatering goodness that is the Montreal bagel.

Granted, I’m aware that I’m in the minority on this issue. Any five-second conversation with my colleagues at the Forward combining the word “Montreal” and “bagel” usually ends with me having to raise my voice an octave or two as I desperately try to explain why they are in fact superior — which they are.

There are two main outposts of bagel legitimacy in Montreal: Fairmount Bagel and St-Viateur Bagel. And as any Montrealer will tell you, debates about which one of those two is better can get pretty heated — but that’s a whole other type of schmear.

For those of you too caught up behind the massive girth of the New York bagel to know any better, here are a couple of differences between the two:

  1. Montreal bagels are smaller. Hand-rolled and baked in wood ovens, they have crispier crusts and are less bread-y than their equivalents south of the border.

  2. Montreal bagels are sweeter. But just a touch so. The recipe is slightly different (and some say, more authentic and true to what you would have gotten back in the Old Country), in that they are made using malt flour and boiled in water flavored with honey.

  3. Montreal bagels are simpler. Begone travesty items — Yes, I mean you, cinnamon raisin frauds! The Montreal bagel only comes in two flavors: sesame or poppy seed. When toasted, the crispy seeds take on a smoky flavor. That, combined with a thick dollop of cream cheese and a piece of smoked lox, is what it’s all about.

Much has been written about our differences. Sometimes, it’s done with a veil of objectivity, as in 2009, when the Times’ City Room blog listed the pros and cons extensively, going as far as dragging a batch back to New York to let their newsroom decide (big surprise, they chose their city).

And sometimes, as in the case of food writer Mimi Sheraton, our bagels are quite literally abused. In 2011, Sheraton violently discarded Montreal’s baked treasures: “I have never eaten anything worse called a bagel,” she told the New York Times. But even she admits New York bagels aren’t what they used to be. In the wake of H&H closing its doors, she declared the state of the bagel as “deplorable.” I guess nostalgia dies hard.

I will concede that try as I might to resist it, the “everything” bagel has made its way into my heart. But one glance at the dozens of home-bought comforts packed into my freezer over several visits from friends and families is enough to make me forget the smell of garlic, salt and onion wafting down from Absolute Bagels, only a couple of blocks upwind. It’s not for nothing that Noah Bernamoff, creator of Mile End Deli, decided to cart in truckloads of St-Viateur golden goodies through the night to serve to his customers for nearly two years before baking his own Montreal-style bagels in New York.

They’re just that good.

Maybe it’s a matter of what you grew up with. After all, what is a bagel if not a reminder of where you come from, a taste of home that you crave when you’re away?

(But really, it’s not. Ours are better, sorry.)

Sincerely,

Disgruntled Montreal Expat.

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Mixing Bowl: H&H Fight, Katz's Deli Is 'Manly?'

By Devra Ferst

iStock

The fight over the H&H Bagel name continues to get shmeared. [Grub Street]

School lunches are getting a healthy makeover thanks to Michelle Obama’s initiatives. But not so much for students who keep kosher in LA. [Jewish Journal]

Katz’s Deli might just be the “manliest” sandwich shop in America, atleast according to Men’s Health Guy Gourmet blog. [Village Voice]

Food and Wine spends some time with (and gets some recommendations from) our favorite Israeli spice master Lior Lev Sercarz. [Food and Wine]

The barbeque brisket pop-up BrisketTown is starting to take orders…. hmmm, we’ll see you in line. [Eater]

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New York's Bagel Wars Continue

By Michael Kaminer

Thinkstock

Updated Wednesday at 1:45pm

When the Forward reported in January that H&H Bagels was evicted from its iconic West 46th Street bakery — a move that followed the closing of its Upper West Side storefront — it looked like curtains for the beloved purveyor of doughy discs. New York bagel lovers mourned the closing like it was the death of their favorite uncle.

But late last week, it looked like second coming of H&H was imminent. A routine listing of new commercial leases in real-estate mag The Real Deal included 1,800 square feet at 125 Fulton Street, leased to one H&H Bagels. And Grub Street reported that new tenants filed with the New York City Department of Buildings to convert the existing retail space into a “new bagel store.”

But this morning, the Wall Street Journal tells us that while the new space will be called H&H Bagels — it won’t be the same bagel company that New Yorkers mourned earlier this year.

The new spot (which will become part of a chain) will be owned by Randy Narod, owner of the Long Island Bagel Café chain. But, former H&H owner Helmer Toro says Narod doesn’t have rights to use the H&H name, saying that the two had been in talks about a partnership, but nothing had been finalized. Narod, spat back in the New York Times saying that he purchased the trademark — and more importantly, the secret recipe — from Toro and hired him as a consultant, leading to a big doughy mess.

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Mixing Bowl: Kosher Campus, Beet Latkes

By Gianna Palmer

iStock

The New York Daily News broke the sad news yesterday: the last H & H Bagel shop (on West 46th St.) is now closed. Legal troubles and economic woes are to blame. Oy. [New York Daily News]

College Prowler ranks the best Kosher campuses. Brandeis is not (quite) first. [College Prowler]

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Last Shmear for H&H Bagels

By Forward Staff

The last H&H Bagels store was evicted from its last New York location for failing to pay back rent, the New York Daily News reported.

The iconic bakery outlet on W. 46th Street in Manhattan was chained shut Thursday after owner Helmer Toro failed to pay about $600,000 to the landlord the paper said.

“It’s the end,” Yann Geron, a building official told the paper.

H&H was best known for its location on W. 80th Street on the upper West Side, near famed deli Zabar’s. That shop closed last year, to tears from schmear-lovers.

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Mixing Bowl: Hummus Two Ways; Bagel Saga Continues

By Devra Ferst

iStock

The H&H saga continues. Little-known Davidovich Bakery is stepping up to fill the void. [Wall Street Journal]

What’s the best hummus in New York? The foodies at Fork in the Road offer up their thoughts. [Fork in the Road]

Or, if you prefer your hummus homemade, try this stellar recipe from Michael Solomonov. [Saveur]

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Mixing Bowl: Industrial Food Face-Off; Best Latkes and Bialys

By Devra Ferst

iStock

Matt Rees takes a very close look at Ariel Sharon’s eating habits and what they meant. [Salon]

Where can you get great shakshuka in New York City? Lauren Shockey dishes on the places. [Village Voice]

Josh Ozersky and Mark Bittman duke it out on the issue of industrial food. [Time]

The end is near for H&H. The bagel plant now faces eviction. [Eater]

Is your latke recipe the best? Put it to the test at the Edible Manhattan and Great Performances contest. [Edible Blog]

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New H & H? Old Spot May Host New Bagel Shop

By Michael Kaminer

Flickr: Panduh

Upper West Siders practically sat shiva when the beleaguered H & H Bagels shuttered its iconic West 80th Street store in July.

But round baked goods may rise again in those cold, dormant ovens. DNAInfo reported today that Queens-based Davidovich Bakery, which bills itself as “the only manufacturer in the world that makes hand-rolled kettle-boiled bagels for the wholesale community,” may open its first retail location in the hallowed space where H & H sated bagel cravings, 24/7, for nearly 40 years.

(For a history of the bagel, check out our timeline)

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What's the Best Bagel in New York City?

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

iStock
How do they stack up?

In the Forward’s first Food & Drink special section, coming out this Thursday, we trace the 600+ year history of the bagel. But where’s the best bagel in New York City? Read on to find out.

New Yorkers are an opinionated bunch. And few subjects are as polarizing as the city’s best bagels. When the Upper West Side location of the iconic H&H bagel shop closed in June, the city and bagel lovers everywhere, mourned the loss. But the closing also left a place open in the rungs of the top New York City bagels. So, we asked some of our favorite Jewish foodies to recommend their top bagel joints. We were hoping to find some sort of consensus on the city’s best bagel, but, alas, two our results proved the adage: two Jews, many opinions. Personally, we like them all. Share your #1 local bagel places in the comments below.

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Mixing Bowl: A Borscht Comeback; Redesigning the Food Label

By Devra Ferst

iStock

As we reported (and mourned) recently, H&H Bagels is stopping its ovens. So who makes the best bagel in New York? The Underground Gourmet shares its thoughts and recommendations.

Gold’s borscht, once a mainstay of the Jewish food scene has slipped in popularity in recent years. The owners are hoping to make a comeback says the Wall Street Journal.

Masbia, a kosher soup kitchen with four locations in New York City, is struggling to feed a growing community that cannot afford to feed itself, reports the New York Daily News.

The Jerusalem Post explores Israel’s beer renaissance.

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A Final Bagel from H & H

By Lillian Swanson

The sign is gone at the legendary H & H bagel shop at West 80th and Broadway. A TV truck with its long-prong antenna is parked out front. On the sidewalk, people pull their smart phones up to eye level and snap away.

Today is reportedly the last day of the Upper West Side bagel shop, and the lines inside run eight and 10 deep. It’s one last go round for these hot and doughy bagels, fresh from the oven. The man behind me in line holds a hand-written petition to keep the shop open. Others in line take photos of the signs above the counter, where the bagels wait in bins for hungry customers.

I live in the neighborhood, but have been here only once before. I naively ventured in months ago and asked for a bagel with light cream cheese. The counterman snapped back at me, “We don’t sell them that way.” Off I went empty handed.

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Mourning the Closing of H&H, the Quintessential New York Bagel Shop

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Flickr: Panduh

Deli bagels are for toasting and spreading with cream cheese. Fresh supermarket bagels are for lox. Lender’s bagels are for when you’re traveling and desperate.

Only H&H’s bagels are for eating hot and plain — crisp on the outside and a little doughy inside. And though this bagel is as essential to Manhattan’s Upper West Side as the beignet is to New Orleans and the croissant to Paris, today is the last day you will ever be able to enjoy one there.

Following legal troubles and a February bankruptcy filing by an apparently associated firm, the quintessential New York bagel shop is reportedly closing its West 80th and Broadway location for good today.

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