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Needed: Better Bagels

I've been meaning to comment on Scott Reitz's City Paper cover story for a while now. If you haven't read it yet, the gist of the article is that there are restaurants in DC going to absurd lengths to bring city (or even country) specific food products into their restaurants.

I'm sure there's great bread being baked in Philadelphia. I know there are good bagels made daily in New York City. But I can't get behind the idea that breads and bagels equally as good can't be made here in DC, or any other city, for that matter.

(from natala007 on Flickr)

I have a simple litmus test for bagel quality - the everything bagel. Bakeries and bagel shops can make all kinds of fancy bagels with jalapenos and cheese and chocolate chips baked into them, but to me, the quality of the everything bagel tells me all I need to know about a bagel shop.

The bagel with cream cheese is a staple for people on tight budgets. It's cheap, it's delicious and it's filling. I ate bagels nearly every day my last year of college. Trouble is, once you've gotten accustomed to great bagels, it's really hard to go back to bagels that are just good.

I know that great bagels can be made outside of New York because I've had them. DC has some good bagel shops, it just doesn't have a lot of great bagel places. Still I don't think it's impossible, nor do I think it's necessary to drive in bagels from out of town. Eventually, I hope, someone will figure out a way to make it work.


Michael said…
I can see there's no help for you since you don't like Brooklyn Bagels.
Rob Pitingolo said…
Brooklyn Bagel is good, but their everything bagel isn't the best.
MaryBeallAdler said…
I understand exactly what you mean about ET bagels being a litmus text for quality. It isn't easy to evenly spread the seeds, unless the process is automized, and to me, that's what makes artisan bagel baking special. The result is a unique taste experience. How consciously present the baker's are and how they use their experience, hands, head, and heart, make all the difference in the quality and taste experience. Few bagel baker's talk about the ingredients. The fact is, commodity prices are sky rocketing and flour is expensive. Shipping bagels or running a large wholesale operation inevitably means adding oil or preservatives which distinctly affect the taste and texture. The temperature of the water and the form of yeast used are important factors. We can throw all the bells and whistles in or on bagels, but if the basic ingredients aren't there, who cares? There is no amount of marketing that can fix poor content in a bagel. We give it our best artisan effort @GTBagel. We love what we do and use our hands, head, and heart. That's a fact.

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