Tag Archives: bagel

Wee Bird Bagel Cafe (Randolph, VT)

A recent trip up to visit with friends in Burlington, Vermont had us again looking to try new options for breakfast as we drove along Interstate 89. While we really liked our last visit to Wit & Grit, we had another spot in Randolph that’s been on our hit list since they opened: Wee Bird Bagel Cafe. This little cafe on the NE side of Randolph Vermont has been one of those spots that seems to perennially be experiencing changeover; just in the last 10 years, this spot has been Three Bean Café, Café Salud, Green Light Café, and the Huggable Mug, all variants on a basic cafe theme. But while none of them really had much tenure in the spot, Wee Bird, opened by Chelsie Brown of nearby Bent Hill Brewery (one of our area favorites), started a major renovation of the building and now runs the Wee Bird Bagel Cafe, featuring bagels, breakfast sandwiches, and other light bakery fare.

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Nana Fanny’s (Borough Market, London, UK)

Despite the lack of reviews associated with our 20 mile “Death March” itself, don’t be fooled into thinking we weren’t eating. In addition to stopping for German Food, by mid-point of the March we’d also stopped for pork buns, a beer break, another 99 Flake, and even some mini donuts on the Thames. So we weren’t lacking for sustenance. But a bit after the halfway point of our walk, we hit one of our major stops: Borough Market. Long one of London’s major produce and specialty food markets, on the weekends (now expanding into most of the week) it’s a pretty major food destination, with one of the larger outdoor food markets. It was here in Borough Market that I found Nana Fanny’s and stopped for a quick “salt beef bagel”.

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Carmelli Bagel Bakery (London, UK)

While I try to keep much of my Offbeat Eating, well, “offbeat”, sometimes it’s good to go back to old favorites. And since a trip of our up to the RAF London museum had use out in the northwestern suburbs of London, that meant a side shopping trip for my brother to pick up bagels. You see, growing up in the Kaszeta household, one of the more holy culinary traditions is that Sunday mornings were typically celebrated with toasted bagels. So when my brother moved off to London, he found himself with the occasional craving for a good toasted bagel. Which actually is a bit of a challenge in London. Sure, those that are somewhat aware of the culinary scene in London are already going, “But there is Beigel Bake on Brick Lane!”, but, just like the spelling of “beigel” differs from “bagel”, the product itself varies, mostly due to the different culinary adventures the baked good has had along its various Yiddish voyages to New York, Montreal, or London. Don’t get me wrong, I rather like a good salt beef beigel from Beigel Bake, loaded up with delicious beef and hot English mustard. But the beigel itself is a bit more bready and less chewy than my expectations for a “bagel”…

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Myer’s Bagels (Burlington, VT)

As I mentioned in my review of Montreal’s Fairmount Bagel a few years ago, bagels are generally a fairly regional food item, with various world metropolitan areas all having their own variations on the same theme. One of the more respected ones, the Montreal Bagel, is also one of the most regional: it’s rather difficult to find a proper “Montreal bagel” outside of Quebec (and heck, they get pretty scarce outside of Montreal itself). So it was with a bit of skepticism that upon hearing that a relatively new addition to Burlington’s bagel scene (which, to date, hadn’t really impressed me that much, even with the relatively low standards I’ve had for “New England” bagels). But a trip this summer by Carol up to Burlington to get an issue with her Mini Cooper fixed let her to try out Myer’s Bagels, and she came back excited: “They really are good, Montreal-style bagels”. So the next time we were both up in Burlington, it was time to check out Myer’s.

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Fairmount Bagel (Montreal, QC)

One of the more interesting things about the simple bagel is that quite a few major metropolitan areas have ended up creating their own region-specific rendition. While for many people the “New York Bagel” is the ne plus ultra bagel (with many arguments about which particular bakery one should be visiting), I’ve been to two other cities with their particular bagel traditions: London (in which the “beigel” is particularly less crusty, andin most cases, the star of the show is the salt beef it’s served with), and Montreal, which is well-known for their “Montreal Style Bagel”. (Unfortunately, most of the “bagels” that one finds in most of the country are of a fourth type, the “fake bagel”, or “circular bread” as I call it, steamed instead of boiled, and lacking the correct bagel texture. But that’s perhaps a topic for another time.) In most any discussion of Montreal-style bagels, there are two canonical bakeries always mentioned, Fairmount Bagel and St-Viateur Bagel. And, like asking someone in New Haven whether Sally’s or Pepe’s has better pizza, asking someone in Montreal which they prefer is likely to get you an answer involving particular strong opinions and often a religious-like devotion to one or the other (in fact, until recently, there was even an occasional mention to a third contender, Faubourg Bagel in the increasingly dilapidated Faubourg Ste-Catherine shopping center, but they closed recently). I actually like both, but our recent visit to Lawrence was right down the street from Fairmount Bagel, and a good chance to pop in an give this place a proper review.

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H&H Bagels (Upper West Side, New York, NY)

(Closed) If there’s one thing I really like, it’s a good bagel, in particular a New York style one. Unfortunately, fewer things in life seem more certain than the exponential decay in bagel quality one experiences as you move further in distance from NYC. By the time you are barely 50 miles into Connecticut most bagels have been replaced by some sort of circular bread product that resembles a bagel only slightly in appearance, and even less in taste. It’s as if someone took a real bagel, described it in writing, and made someone re-invent it from that description. Most “bagels” leave me disappointed and wanting. And sometimes it’s rather hard to explain, since their exists a pretty big bagel gap: it seems that most people outside NYC have never actually had a good bagel (for example, seeing the gushing reviews on Yelp for one of our local bad bagel ships), don’t know what a bagel should be, and wrongly think that all bagels taste the same. On the other hand, I’ve met several people in NYC that haven’t ever had a bad bagel.

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