Friday, February 12, 2016

New York Bagels


What is a New York bagel? Don't be fooled by its many imitators: a New York bagel is something special. A bagel should be slightly chewy but not tire your jaw. It must be fresh and contain no preservatives. A New York bagel is one of those things that you recognize when you eat it.
 
A real bagel is made in the authentic New York tradition: dough is made and kneaded, then it's boiled in a kettle, and finally it's baked in an oven to make the outside crispy. Some companies shorten the process by steam-cooking but their products don't deserve to be called bagels; they're soft and flavorless.
 
Our local newspaper recently reported on a nationwide search for the best bagel in America -- and the winner was a store on Long Island. This shouldn't surprise anyone; bagels are a way of life here. I think there's a law that every strip-mall on Long Island must contain at least one bagel store.
 
The winning store (A&S Bagels in Franklin Square) has some unusual features. First, I learned it's open 24/7. Yup, it never closes. If you hanker for a bagel at 4:00 in the morning on a Tuesday, they'll satisfy your hunger. Second, it always has a line. Always. Third, they do a big wholesale business. Secret: many "bagel stores" don't make their own bagels; they buy them pre-made from A&S and merely bake them to appear homemade.
 
I went to A&S today to check out the store and its wares. The store is a ratty old building in a crummy industrial area. Their building is huge but has only a tiny room open to the public; obviously, most of the space is devoted to bagel-making. There is no dining area, just two cashiers at a counter. The cashiers are crusty old women who learned how to put on makeup in the 1950's. Even though I deliberately visited at an off-hour, there was a line. There's always a line.
 
With all these negatives, I figured the bagels must be pretty damn good to attract attention. And they are. In a word, they are perfect. They have the exact right consistency of chewy. They are fresh as a snowflake and made with natural ingredients. A bagel you can bring home to Momma. Also, they have a nice variety of 20 different flavors: I had a cheddar cheese bagel that had as much cheese on it as bread. Yumm.
 
Do you eat bagels?

17 comments:

  1. My mouth is watering and I don't even love bagels. But I'm a sucker for a good everything bagel and now I want one.

    I also want to see these "crusty old women" working the counter. HAHAHA.

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    1. They were worth the trip. I was waiting for them to yell "No bagel for you!"

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    2. "No soup for you" was going through my mind, too!

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  2. Having lived in Montreal where they also consider themselves big bagel aficionados I learned to enjoy them.

    Since we moved away and I'm trying to eat less bread I don't eat them so often. Also, given the choice between a bagel or a croissant I'll choose a croissant every time.

    It's fun that you visited that place. We often do the same. There is a donut store in Hamilton that is very old and well famous so we made a point to go and test them out. I felt obligated to decide for myself : )

    bisous
    Suzanne

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    1. I enjoy checking out highly-regarded places. Sometimes they deserve the acclaim, sometimes not, but it's always an adventure. I once went to the Best Donut Store in NYC and it was transcendent. I don't even like donuts and I was floating in Heaven.

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  3. Yes, I do eat bagels although they are hard to come by here... oh and I could not stop laughing at your comment on the ladies who learned to put on make up in the 50s-

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    1. I'm proud of that remark! Glad you caught it.

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  4. I love bagels especially with cream cheese and lox. That said I rarely eat them. REAL ones are the best. When I come to NY to visit you I'll definitely eat more than one ;)

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  5. Ohhh...you made me want a bagel with every fiber of my being! I've never had a NY bagel, so perhaps I've never actually had a bagel when I thought I did...lol. Sometimes the best food comes from the scariest hole in the wall sort of places.
    Debbie
    www.fashionfairydust.com

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  6. I eat the grocery store bagels - prepackaged, white, dry and not at all like what you are describing ... but not bad toasted. Is that verboten with a real bagel?

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  7. Nice blog. It inspires me a lot. Thanks for publishing such useful information.
    Herbal Potpourri

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  8. Goodness, is this post making my mouth water! Bagels absolutely rock. Sweet, savoury, plain, turned into French toast or a pizza base, as a sandwich, really, there's wrong way to consume these doughy, satisfying treats.

    ♥ Jessica

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  9. Giggling over your make-up comment! I know exactly what you are describing!! Mmmmm, I like PROPER Jewish bagels (I used to live near Gants Hill which was a big Jewish area and had an Amazing Jewish bagels store. Nowhere else could compare!!!!Xx

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  10. I've never had a fresh bagel before - just those rubbery things in the bag you put in the toaster

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  11. Hee hee I remember when I lived in Seattle there was this really cool coffee shop that actually had bagels flow in from NY par baked. They were so good and what a difference after eating those ginormous doughy Seattle bagels ugh.

    Allie of ALLIENYC
    www.allienyc.com

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