Saturday, January 06, 2007

Best. Bagels. Ever. Really.

This post has nothing to do with editing or publishing and everything to do with bagels.

A good bagel is hard to find. Here’s how hard: I’ve been looking for a good bagel for decades. In all that time, since the first- and second-generation bagel makers all retired and industrial bagels swept America, I ran across two or three acceptable bagels but until a couple of months ago never again found a great bagel.

So what makes a great bagel and why am I telling you this?

A great bagel has these characteristics:
  • It has a thin, shiny, hard, crunchy crust.
  • The crumb is soft to bite through, with a combination of tight, fine texture and the occasional large eye.
  • At the same time, the crumb is tough and resilient enough that you can spread cold-from-the-refrigerator butter or non-whipped, old-fashioned cream cheese on it without tearing it.
This has apparently been a hard combination to achieve for both chains and independent bakers. Instead, we’ve been suffering with either soft and gummy softball-size bagels that are not much more interesting than Wonder Bread with a hole in it or dense, dry, doughy bagels that you can’t eat without drinking a quart of water.

Now I readily admit that your taste may differ from mine. If you’re under thirty and have never tasted a real bagel, you might find one not to your liking. That’s fine. If you like Lender’s or Bruegger’s or Manhattan Bagel, or H&H, or (Shudder!) Dunkin’ Donuts bagels or Bagels Plus! or Einstein Bros., then you go right ahead and keep eating those. But if you’ve been on the same frustrating bagel quest I’ve been on, then I’ve got news for you.

If you are anywhere within driving distance of Milford, Connecticut (Exit 36 on I-95), go to:

The Bagel Bar & Deli
1085 Bridgeport Avenue
Milford CT 06460
203-882-0667

If you are not within driving distance, call them up and have them ship you fresh bagels overnight. (Don’t email, because apparently they never check their inbox.)

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the real deal. These are the bagels of my youth. The best news is that the owner, Rich, who has only been in business for a few years, is a young man. He hadn’t been born the last time I had a bagel this good. But with our support he’ll be making great bagels until long after I’m too old to eat them.

We now return to our regularly scheduled discussion of writing, editing, and publishing. There’s a baker’s dozen of bagels calling to me from the kitchen.

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