Bagels? Feh!

May 4th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Mark Bittman has a nice opinion piece in the New York Times about the perennial Holy Trio (pardon the sacrilege) of Jewish comfort food: Lox, Bagels, Cream Cheese. HG is a bit of a contrarian and curmudgeon on this subject. HG loathes bagels. HG shares this dislike with his late parents, both Jewish immigrants from Belorussia. Every Sunday morning throughout HG’s childhood, HG and his father would stroll to West Kingsbridge Road in The Bronx. They would separate. Father went to the “appetizing” store for Nova salmon, sable, sour pickles, black olives, cole slaw and potato salad. HG went to the bakery for bialys, onion rolls (pletzels) and sliced Jewish rye bread. (Mom had gone to Daitch Dairy the day before for cream cheese and baked farmer cheese). HG picked up the Sunday Times, Sunday News and the Yiddish-language Jewish Daily Forward. Home for the feast at a table with a steaming pot of coffee, a pitcher of freshly squeezed orange juice and a bottle of Hennessy Brandy. A morning of down home Jewish culinary delight. And, not a bagel in sight.


At Last: The Great Jewish Rye Bread Returns

June 30th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

The search for a Jewish rye bread that could match the unique, slightly sour, crusty flavors that emanated from the loaves sold in the Jewish bakeries of HG’s youth has been a long, frustrating and ultimately unsuccessful search…Until now. Peter H., presently visiting HG/BSK in Prince Edward Island brought the gift of Zabar’s caraway seed rye bread house-baked at Zabar’s under the personal supervision of the store’s president and chief executive, Saul Zabar. Zabar’s, of course, is the New York landmark on the Upper West Side — a store that attracts thousands of customers weekly for its vast assortment of smoked fish, cheese, coffee, housewares and gourmet items of every description. When it comes to food, Saul Zabar is super demanding. He strives for excellence and that is reflected in everything from the store’s smoked salmon to its espresso beans. Rye bread, however, proved elusive. No outside source could achieve the standard Saul desired so he decided to bake the bread in house. HG tasted a slice of the loaf yesterday with cream cheese and smoked salmon. Then HG consumed a lightly buttered slice. Then an austere slice au naturel. The years fell away. HG was back in The Bronx circa 1940. Yes, Zabar’s rye bread is the real deal. But, HG (no slave to mindless nostalgia), has to admit: Saul Zabar’s product is superior to the Bronx bread of yesteryear.


Beautiful Baked Goods

February 8th, 2012 § 1 comment § permalink

HG misses the high caloric New York breakfast treats of yesteryear. Greenberg’s Sticky Schnecken Buns. These honey, nut and cinnamon drenched little guys were more addictive than heroin. Sold by a shop — William Greenberg Jr. Deserts — on Madison Avenue, they were expensive and madly delicious. It took self discipline not to demolish an entire box before they were brought home. When the effects of weed smoking brought about a passion for sweet goodies, all senses cried out for the Greenberg’s product. Apparently Greenberg’s son is alive and well and making these wonderful buns according to his father’s recipe which are for sale HERE.

Croissants from the Sutter bakery on Greenwich Avenue in The Village. Flakey, crisp, outrageously buttery. Much superior to anything in Paris. BSK was partial to slices of Zito’s bread (from the old Bleecker Street bakery which closed in 2004) drenched with honey. With softly scrambled eggs, HG liked buttered Jewish rye or Pechter’s (or Stuhmer’s) pumpernickel (obtainable at Zabar’s).

Sometimes nothing tasted better than a warmed (not toasted) bialy liberally smeared with Daitch’s cream cheese (or Zabar’s scallion cream cheese). HG never fancied bagels. HG is concerned that bialy baking has entered a period of decline (are the old masters dead or basking in Florida sunshine?). Have not had a truly great bialy in years. Sadly, bialys shipped recently by HG’s much loved Russ & Daughters didn’t have that old time oniony zest. (SJ will interject now. The old time great bialy still exists at Kossar’s Bialys on Grand Street. A serious treat when warm from the oven and eaten whole right from a brown paper bag. Says SJ: You wouldn’t order fish from a baker, so don’t order bialys from an appetizing store.)

Possibly the best breakfast treat of all was the “pletzel.” This was a roll covered in baked onions. Good? As my Mom would say: “Nu,nu, don’t ask.” These were on the table at Jewish dairy restaurants like Ratner’s and Rappaport’s on the Lower East Side and at Jewish bakeries throughout The Bronx. Gone, all gone. HG’s eyes grow misty.

An Onion Pletzel

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