The re-opening of Smorgasburg has brought a dizzying array of new vendors selling food products you didn't know you wanted: Teriyaki balls! Chicken burgers! Bite-size cheesecakes! Amid them all, it's great to discover a vendor offering something that we really need: great bagels made by a top-flight baker.
'Bagels' on Serious Eats
If you have sour expectations about overstuffed bagel sandwiches, this might just change your mind.
If someone would have asked me last year about the best bagel in Chicago, I would have shrugged my shoulders and pleaded ignorance. But we are in something of a bagel boom and it's time to take stock. So, does Chicago actually have some bagels worth celebrating?
While devouring the largest, lightest, and airiest matzoh ball I've ever faced at Au Cheval last night, it finally dawned on me that Chicago is in the midst of something of a Jewish food wave.
You may remember when we tried The Bagel Store's bacon, egg and cheese bagel. But this Williamsburg bagel joint specializes in several other crazy bagel subspecies, so we went back for more.
The Roasted Turkey Breast & Cheddar on a Pretzel Salt Bagel ($8.95) is exactly what it sounds like, with green leafy lettuce, thinly sliced tomato, and red onion rings to round out the sandwich. The fillings worked well together: the high-piled turkey was mild and moist, the cheddar was sharp and creamy, and the vegetables added just the right amount of freshness to the sandwich. The star, though, was the pretzel salt bagel, which highlighted the best features of its namesakes.
Almost as soon as we started selling bagels, we found we were due for an equipment upgrade. In order to make enough bagels to meet demand, we desperately needed a new oven. It was time to go shopping for a new bagel oven.
When we discovered that one of our San Francisco contributors had started a bagel company, we immediately asked him to tell us all about it. Last week, he described the process of developing their bagel recipe. This week, he talks about—gulp!—actually taking the leap to starting a bona fide business. A stainless steel commercial kitchen, "breast implant" bagels, and more.
Co-created by Dion Antic, the man who brought Chicago the breakfast hot-spot, Toast, Bagel on Damen is a no-frills morning meal destination that puts some interesting spins on the traditional bagel sandwich.
Normally, you find David Kover writing about burgers, pizza, and cocktails around here. Little did we know, he's been busy starting a bagel company with his wife and two friends. Could four schmos with little baking experience figure out how to make really good bagels? In San Francisco? In this new series, David will give us a peek into the world of starting a food business.
When we heard that Dunkin' Donuts had changed their bagel formula and rebranded the product as "artisanal," we were keen to try them and see if maybe, just maybe, they'd be a cut above the bagels they used to bake up, and better than chain bagel competitors.
Everything's done right: the egg flat and set but just a little soft in the very middle; the bacon thick, crisp-edged but still chewy; the cheese melted between bagel and egg.
Mustard Seed Cafe, with prime corner real estate in Los Angeles' busy Los Feliz neighborhood, is that prototypical go-to spot. It's got a solid menu of slightly elevated diner eats, a smattering of outdoor tables, and good speedy take-out for that lunchtime emergency. The food may not be revelatory, but it's reliable, comforting, and easy—part of my regular rotation. Perhaps best of all, this chicken salad sandwich is served on what for L.A. is not a bad onion bagel.
Scratch bagels are chewy, with an airy crumb, dark brown, crackly crust, and distinctly ripe and tangy flavor from the sourdough starter that bakery co-owner Allison Reid uses to make them.
You probably remember pizza bagels from your youth. I know I do. Slap some canned pizza sauce on a bagel half, grate some mozzarella over it, shake a little Parmesan and oregano on it (if you're gettin' fancy), and nuke it in the radar range. Hear that beep? Your after-school snack is ready.
[Photographs: Adam Kuban] This is my go-to recipe for homemade bagels. It's adapted from Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Breads. Clayton, in turn, got the recipe from the folks at the now-defunct Jo Goldenberg's, the famous Jewish restaurant and delicatessen...
I don't use the word magical lightly, but there really is something wondrous about making bagels at home. Maybe it's the shape. I think most everyone understands a loaf of bread, but the round shape with a hole ... well, it seems like a whole lot more work than simply plopping some dough in a loaf pan. But it's not. Really. Try making just one batch of these, and I'm sure you'll have the process down pat. Put on your sorcerer's robe and follow along!
I couldn't take my eyes off my own Gaspe Nova salmon, which the man at the counter had fastidiously sliced in petal-thin layers for my Daughters' Delight ($15.45) sandwich.