Why Salt Bagel?

Because I like them.

Bagels are as ubiquitous to New York as real sourdough is to San Francisco. You can get them anywhere, and they range from so-so to excellent. (You cannot get sourdough unfortunately.) The best I’ve had come from Terrace Bagels on Prospect Park West. They of course, make them every morning and they are good good: the slightest crunch gives way to dense, soft (if you’re lucky, warm), slightly doughy bread.

Apparently, you can’t get bialys anywhere else in the world.

All manner of New York proprietors run bagel bakeries, and all serve up a similar flavor and texture. The only other commonality these proprietors share is their pact never to pass along their recipe to non-New Yorkers. Seriously. Is it the water? I’m sure I am not the first to write about this serious issue, but this pact has caused a plague upon the rest of the planet. No matter what the heritage of bagel bakers in New York, most can produce a delicious bread product that looks, smells, feels and tastes like a bagel. Outside of the city, they have only really mastered the look.  It makes sense that flavors might change to match the local taste buds, like sun-dried tomato in San Francisco and green tea with pistachio in Tokyo (strange, but good), but I don’t understand why the texture can’t be matched.

If I ordered a croissant from a place called Les Meilleures Pâtisseries de Paris!, I’d expect buttery, flakey deliciousness, but in the SF Bay Area, there are a few misleadingly named bagel chains, like Manhattan Bagel and Noah’s Bagels, that haven’t developed beyond a rubbery Kaiser roll (which themselves are only a shadow of the delicious original Austrian semmel rolls…).

This isn’t to say that Northern California doesn’t have some of the best eats in the world; it’s just that they can’t get a good bagel down.

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9 responses to “Why Salt Bagel?

  1. Amen. Same goes for pizza, a steak n cheese, and chinese chicken fingers with duck sauce. Just not found on the west coast, or completely unacceptable.

  2. Stephen M. Carmody

    Im glad that I know why you picked the name, Salt Bagels, and I totally agree, that the NY Bagels are the best. Although, even coming from Boston, I felt they had more of a real bagel, than anything I have had here in Calfornia. The other thing, that is sorely lacking is any type of Pizza here, that does not fit my version of East Coast pizza.

    Although, on the flip side, you cannot beat the home grown avocado’s, artichokes, and authentic Mexican cuisine that is ay ay ay delicioso here. 🙂

  3. Honestly, if anybody on the opposite coast is checking in right now, we will trade you whatever you want, legal or illegal, that our coast excels at if you will just send us some decent bagels. Poppyseed please!

  4. Greta,
    Awesome blog. You do the BK proud. I think you have found your calling. You also should be a food writer.

  5. Hi Greta! It is true, Montreal has very unique and excellent bagels. They even have a website: http://www.stviateurbagel.com

    For the last 2 years, I’ve desperately been searching for something that would resemble them. And I’ve concluded that no half-decent bagel can be found in SF, it’s outrageous.

    To all entrepreneurs who want to start a business in the Bay Area: Try a bagel shop instead of an iPhone app.

    • Woo hoo, an expert! Wow, honey-sweetened water and wood-fired ovens?! I’d try that. Let me know if you go in for the airlift. It never occurred to me in Montreal to stray far from pommes persillade, Côtes du Rhône and maple candy (or artfully beg off the moose lasagna further north). When in Rome, go kosher!

  6. Oh Larry, you *were* listening! Larry King is bringing Brooklyn water to LA to try and get a bagel right. Hallelujah, praise the lord and pass the cream cheese! Ya know, I hear he’s single again, ladies…
    http://www.deadline.com/2010/06/larry-king-heading-into-bagel-biz-will-he-have-to-answer-to-nate-n-al/

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