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Montreal Bagels are Best


mb7o
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I mentioned in the Raincity Grill thread that I visted both Solly's and Siegal's bagelrys on a recent trip to Vancouver, and prefered Siegals. Junior responded, perhaps others have comments too...

What makes a Montreal style bagel truly Montreal style? The shape? The wood fired oven? Something else? And where can you get them outside of Montreal? Both Solly's and Siegal's in Vancouver claim to be Montreal style.

I chose Siegal's for two reasons: the bagels are a bit smaller and feel lighter. And if you order a topping, they use a lighter touch--Solly's bagels are very good, but the cream cheese they use isn't so great and is applied in excessive quantity.

But Solly's also has excellent rugulah and very good cinnimon buns

Some details if you want to go:

Siegal's is open 24 hours on the Kits side of the Burrard Bridge, 1883 Cornwall Ave. Plus a few other locations.

Solly's is on Broadway just west of MacDonald in Kitsilano, plus another location.

I've never been to Benny's, what do they claim to be?

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Montreal bagels are less bready -- more chewy -- than NY bagels and are baked in a wood-burning oven.

I don't see any point in getting bagels outside the city, unless you just want to toast them. A day-old bagels is as bad as a day-old croissant.

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There's a place in Ottawa doing Montreal style called Kettleman's Bagels. The bagels are hand-rolled and baked on planks in a wood-burning oven.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Kettleman's is a small Ottawa chain, with (I think) 3 locations: Bank Street, Carling at Woodroffe, and Orleans. Their bagels are quite good, but there are 2 other places in Ottawa doing "Montreal Style" that are worth mentioning. The Ottawa Bagelshop on Wellington Street has been around for a long time, and has a loyal following; although I'm sure the bagels haven't changed, I don't like it as much since it became a much bigger place selling "everything gourmet".

At least as good is the Bagel Run in Orleans. A tiny little store selling excellent "proper" bagels hot from wood-burning oven, cream cheese, orange juice, and not much else. They are best fresh (somehow, the baker's dozen winds up being about 11 by the time I get home!), but they freeze well if you follow the correct procedure:

1. Allow them to cool to room temperature in their open paper bag.

2. As soon as they are no longer warm to the touch (and not 30 minutes later!), slice and put them in a plastic freezer bag (supplied by the bakery).

3. Suck as much air as possible out of the bag, enjoying the lungful of sesame or poppy smell, and seal with a twist tie. Freeze.

4. To consume, pop frozen bagels in a toaster or toaster oven until lightly browned. Not the same sensory "wow" as fresh, but pretty good on a weekday morning.

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Gourmando, I'd forgotten about Ottawa Bagelshop. Yes, they're quite good.

Lesley, I've only eaten Montreal bagels while visiting there. In a few delis and at the homes of people, like an elderly rabbi who was a scholar of Kabbalah. Heh. That's an entirely different thing from taking bagels back to one's own goyische home. Did I enjoy them? Yes. They felt "real" to me.

To me, only plain chewy white bagels are bagels. Poppy seeds or sesame seeds are an extravagance. :raz: Let alone whole-wheat blueberry bagels. :blink:

Gourmando, do you know of any real kosher Jewish delis in Ottawa?

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Gourmando, do you know of any real kosher Jewish delis in Ottawa?

The best that I can think of would be Nate's deli on Rideau Street (where Trudeau used to get his smoked meat during his exile in Ottawa :cool: ). Down the street from there is Rideau Bakery, which has excellent Rye, Challah, and Poppyseed Bread.

As far as I know, you would be laughed out of either place if you asked for a blueberry whole-wheat anything :raz:

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Gourmando, do you know of any real kosher Jewish delis in Ottawa?

The best that I can think of would be Nate's deli on Rideau Street (where Trudeau used to get his smoked meat during his exile in Ottawa :cool: ). Down the street from there is Rideau Bakery, which has excellent Rye, Challah, and Poppyseed Bread.

As far as I know, you would be laughed out of either place if you asked for a blueberry whole-wheat anything :raz:

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Nate's isn't kosher though. Ham and eggs, dairy with meat, that kind of thing.

Their smoked fish platter is pretty good though. Herring, sable, lox, whitefish, rye bread (from Rideau Bakery), olives, onion, coleslaw.

The latkes and blini are okay too. Their chopped liver is good.

edit:

I had almost forgotten: The best day and time to order the fish platter is Thursday around 11 a.m. Wednesday is thus obviously the worst day.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Suzanne dates herself, but she's correct. The real NY bagel is dead and most of the population is too young to realize they missed it. The Montreal bagel while quite different, seemed to maintain the best qualities and in many ways represents the opposite of the contemporary bagel in NY. Bagels are at least one point in Montreal's favor.

day-old bagels is as bad as a day-old croissant
In fact, one can make pretty good bread pudding with day old croissants. A day old bagel is for the birds. Bread in general, freezes pretty well for short periods as someone noted.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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"Bagels are at least one point in Montreal's favor."

Bux, are you an anti-Montreal type? I like to think there are many points in Montreal's favor. We have pretty darn good croissants and bread here as well. Better than most -- if not all -- I tasted in New York.

:hmmm:

Where's the Fat Guy to back me up on this?

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I'm a pro NY type, but certainly not anti Montreal. We've made a few trips there over the years. Often when we had reason to go to the Adirondaks, we'd travel through Montreal and spend a few days. We always enjoyed our stay. It was cheaper to go via Albany or Burlington, but we enjoyed Montreal more. That's not much of a positive statement I realize, but I meant to say that we did go out of our way to be in Montreal. We weren't discussing Montreal. We were discussing bagels and bagels are one point in Montreal's favor. They are not a point in NY's favor. It's been a while since we've been there however. We usually ate well in Montreal, and generally inexpensively. L'Express was a choice a couple of times. Toque was a dinner of note. I do not remember the bread. I remember the market and I recall bringing fruit and goat cheese to the Adirondaks which are south of Montreal, but higher in altitude and with a much shorter growing season.

Are there anti Montreal types?

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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On the other hand, Toronto bashing is an obsession across Canada. I hear it every day here in Montreal(Montreal media & public). I see it often, when I watch Vancouver television & etc. The anti-Montreal faction across Canada, very much pales in comparison. Just to give proper perspective.

---------------------

Steve

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Does anyone know what Toronto bagels are like?

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Does anyone know what Toronto bagels are like?

This is not based on personal experience(never tried Toronto bagels before). My understanding is that Toronto bagels are somewhere between the puffy NY bagels and Montreal bagels.

---------------

Steve

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Steve, that makes sense. :laugh:

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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The best day and time to order the fish platter is Thursday around 11 a.m. Wednesday is thus obviously the worst day.

Is that Jinmyo or Confucious? :biggrin:

I was at a business meeting in Toronto a few weeks ago, and asked a Jewish colleague at the meeting how any self-respecting Jew could live in a city that calls those "things" bagels. He agreed that most of the alleged bagels were pathetic, but claimed that there are a few good bakeries with decent bagels out in the west end (along Bathurst, I think) in an older Jewish neighbourhood, but I couldn't stand being in T.O. long enough to find out if this was true. :wink:

As for the Bagel Oven on Greenbank in Ottawa, it was good indeed, but I think that the Ottawa Bagelshop, Kettleman's, and the Bagel Run are all good substitutes. There is also Bagel Bagel in the market, but the last time I was there I had some terrible food (about 5 years ago).

I was so inspired by this thread that I went to the Bagelshop for lunch today (close to the office). The bagel was just as good as the last one I had at Fairmount in Montreal.

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The best day and time to order the fish platter is Thursday around 11 a.m. Wednesday is thus obviously the worst day.

Is that Jinmyo or Confucious? :biggrin:

Neither. The waiter's advice. :laugh:

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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What about the Continental Bagel Co. in Ottawa? Supposely they have authentic Montreal-style bagels, operated by ex-Montrealers. Are their bagels any good? Last I heard they had 2 locations. They make about 18 flavours, including red strawberry bagels(usually not a good sign of quality). However the famous Fairmount bagel in Montreal, makes blueberry bagels.

----------------

Steve

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  • 4 weeks later...

The best tasting "Toronto" bagels are the well-known Gryfe's bagels which was developed by a Jewish baker in the early 1930's (thereabouts, will need to go read their story blurb again). They are boiled and baked in a brick oven. The bagels have a nice chewy, light texture and they are smaller, puffier with a smaller hole and not as sweet as a Montreal bagel. However, it is best to buy the ones at the original Gryfe's Bagel Bakery at 3421 Bathurst, since the well-seasoned oven lends great flavour to the bagels. Quite recently, Gryfe's have been selling their dough to different shops around the city, so people can get fresh-baked Gryfe's bagels at different locations. However, I have found that the shiny new metal ovens don't impart the same flavour. Since Gryfe's is located in an old predominantly Jewish neighborhood, there are also other small bagel shops around there but Gryfe's are the best known.

What-a Bagel is a relatively new player but they now have 8 franchise locations in Toronto. They are light, larger than Gryfe's and not unpleasant to munch on when they are fresh, but I prefer Gryfe's. They are also boiled before baking.

St. Urbain Bagel has three locations (one in St. Lawrence Market), and they are the closest to the Montreal bagels, with the sweeter taste and the denser texture. I actually found them, when they are warm, to be a bit too mushy as compared to Montreal bagels. (i.e, Fairmount or St. Viateur) However, when they are toasted they are very similar to the Mtl type.

Great Canadian Bagel (50 franchises) just offers bad bread with a hole in the middle - bagels indeed!

There are others, but Gryfe's and St. Urbain are the two most distinctive and best in flavour. Though I love Montreal bagels, I wouldn't turn down a Gryfe's when it first comes out of the oven (they also need to be consumed within a few hours or they turn hard like Mtl bagels - freeze 'em and toast 'em) A Jewish friend agrees that Toronto bagels pretty much suck, but he thinks comparing Gryfe's and Mtl bagels can be futile because they are both good, just different. However, I'm sure some people will dispute what is a "real' bagel.

In terms of Torontonians being anti-Montreal, I haven't found this to be true in years. Perhaps it's because half of Montreal lives here now, and most everyone else is from everywhere else other than Toronto. Pure-bred Torontonians are as rare as Dodo birds. Everyone bashes Toronto, it's a national sport. There used to be a great rivalry between Toronto and Montreal but that has been diluted over the years as both cities have evolved in different ways. Everyone knows that Montreal is the "city where one works to live" and Toronto is the "city where one lives to work".

Edited by Degustation (log)
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What about the Toronto bagels at Kiva's? Heard they were great. The brick oven at the original Gryfe's bagels, is it wood burning or gas? Last I heard, wood burning bagel ovens were disallowed in Toronto.

---------------

Steve

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