Archive for ‘Bagel’

July 11th, 2011

Bagel and coffee

‘There are no good bagel outside of New York!’  –Who hasn’t heard a New York (or Joisey) transplant make this snobbish complaint?  I have to admit…I am one of these snobs.  So much so, that I made it my mission to take my Valley-boy husband on a bagel tour of Manhattan, on our first trip to NYC.  He loves bagels much more than I do, and already has his favorite spots.  My dream, is that one day, he’ll overcome his aversion to sushi and we’ll make this same type of tour of the city; but until then…
There are a few decent bagel places in Los Angeles if you’re willing to look.  A new addition to the mix is Larry King’s  Brooklyn Water Bagel Company in upscale Beverly Hills.At first, you might assume that this is another bagel place with a New York sounding name that specializes in a certain type of bagel.  Well, you (and I) would be mistaken.  The word ‘Water’ in the store’s name, refers to Larry King’s system to simulate “Brooklynized“.  Since everyone claims that New York’s secret ingredient is their water, why not try to duplicate it with the huge water filtration machine you see upon entering the store. Other than that, it looks like a small diner with booth seating.  To create the Brooklyn experience, the walls are adorned with plaques, honoring finest famous Brooklynites, including Jackie Gleason, whose Honeymooner’s was playing silently on the wall mounted television.

But what about the  bagel?  It’s actually pretty good.  Chewy in the middle with a slightly hard exterior.  I like my bagel simple–slightly toasted with cream cheese.  My American husband does goes one step further by scraping off most of the cream cheese.  He says he wants to enjoy the taste of bagel more than the guilt of the cream cheese.

Brooklyn Water Bagel Company’s menu offers more than just a variety of doughnut shaped bread items including flagels, sandwiches, soups, and muffins.  As much as my husband enjoys bread, we found ourselves enjoying the coffee bar most. Along with a soda fountain, there are a quite a few kinds of coffee both hot and iced.  Dark roasted, medium roasted, hazel nut, and even something as exotic as a bananas foster flavor!  Even the ice for the iced coffee is well thought out.  What’s the universal complaint?  An iced coffee lovers chagrin occurs when the ice cubes melt, leaving their coffee drink limp.  Larry King has thoughtfully solved that problem by providing coffee ice cubes.  Yes–ice cubes made out of coffee!  The most exciting item I found at the coffee bar was the egg cream syrup dispenser.  Yes, egg cream!  Brooklyn’s own Fox’s U-bet is nestled between the soy and the whole milk dispensers.

When we started dating, my husband took me to Seven Eleven (every girl’s dream, right?) because he wanted to teach me about an American childhood experience that I had missed out on: making the ‘Suicide’ drink.  For the uninitiated, a ‘suicide’ is a soda made from a bit of every flavor of soda mixed together.  Never the same drink twice, some experiments are fantastic, while others are hideous. One example was my mixing Mountain Dew, orange soda and coke.  Not the best result, unless you like ugly colors with matching tastes.  We didn’t have soda fountains when I was growing up in Tokyo, so the simple act of pouring my own drink from an actual dispenser AND getting a free refill was actually quite exciting.  So, once again, we enjoyed ourselves, making a suicide drink, but this time, a more sophisticated one, made from coffee in the middle of Beverly Hills.  The best creation of the day: dark roast iced coffee, vanilla cream, soy milk, 2 pumps of Fox’s u-bet.  Thanks for fun afternoon, Mr. King.

May 29th, 2011

Bagel

Growing up in Japan, finding a bagel was about as easy as finding that tree grows money.  When we visited New York City on a field trip, one of the breakfast stop was at a bagel shop, where I ate my first one, it was love at first bite.  With the addition of slathered-on cream cheese, I was hooked.  Today’s Tokyo boasts a few chains where one can find this delicacy, but comparing their version to the real New York bagel is like comparing frozen pizza to wood-fired oven pizza.  This is surprising, considering that the Japanese are known for perfecting products; even in the bread world, where Japanese baguettes could stand up to Paris’ best.  From this, I wonder why the Japanese bagel hasn’t reached perfection.  People say it’s all in the water, so perhaps that could be it.
My husband who is both a bread snob, and Jewish, always has a bagel on his to-do list after arriving in New York from Los Angeles.  Once again, is it the New York water or is it some long lost bit of know-how whose secret is kept by a select group of Manhattan bakers? Larry King has recently tried to bring the best of the East Coast to the West by opening a new bagel shop in Beverly Hills using “Brooklynize” water…
I love a dense, chewy sesame bagel slightly toasted, with  a schmear of cream cheese and tomato.  But with over 600 calories and 20-plus grams of fat, it won’t be a part of my daily menu until a designer creates a fashionable line of stretch pants.  When it’s time to treat myself with the best, I want only a doughy delight that will rise to the occasion.  For that, I head to Murray’s Bagels in the West Village in New York City.

I have to give the Japanese credit for trying to popularize the bagel, but they still need a bit more research and development to recreate the magic of something as special as Murray’s.  They could also use a bit of work on their English grammar, as the picture below shows a Japanese bagel shop in Roppongi, which I’m assuming, is trying to convey the idea that they offer a bagel of the month.