Bagel and Shmear

In food on 01/06/2009 at 8:39 pm

Where can you get the best bagel? New York City? Before I answer, I’d like to assure you this blog is not supported by a certain city’s tourism board, even though many of the past posts have been about this city. We just happen to be bi-coastal, though the second coast is Lake Michigan. I grew up in Huntington Beach, CA, and went to college in Cambridge, MA, but due to forces beyond my control, the Midwest seems to be where I find myself when I’m not in Manhattan. But I digress…

Madison is the answer to my question. What?! You exclaim in outrage. Yes, I’m afraid the BEST New York bagel is made by Bagels Forever in Madison, Wisconsin. The 40 cent varietal beauties are 2/3 the size of a normal bagel, but within each perfectly QQ morsel, the flavor permeates each crumb, the crust is so shiny and blistery you just want to cry from the goodness of it. I don’t know how they do it, but I have never smelled the heady aroma of the ingredients in a bagel as powerfully as they emanate from a Bagels Forever bagel. And what flavors too: maple syrup, sun-dried tomato, cranberry oat…seasonal bliss. Nowhere else can you get these flavors! But even the plainest of the plain is truly amazing. Better than H&H at double the price, or any boutique Big Apple bagelry. Their only Achilles heel is their bialy is not yet perfected. (And I’d have to admit, if pressed to choose, I actually prefer the latter). The owners are ex-pats from New York, so they are just New Yorkers lost in the midwest, as I like to justify.

When we were leaving Madison at 5:30am on New Year’s Eve, we cruised by the joint ready to stuff our suitcase with at least 4 dozen and more in our carry-on allotment; we nearly had a heart attack when they were CLOSED! Tears welled in our eyes as we dejectedly drove away, our craving for the perfect bagel growing into a gnawing abyss of our mournful bellies. One day, when I get a little change in my pocket, I will order them online for a ridiculous 50% markup for next day delivery. Maybe I could come up with a schtick for the subway, selling dollar candies…

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