Friday, February 08, 2008

Why Are West Coast Bagels So Anemic?

I have just arrived back into town after 5 days in New York City. I went into the office to check the mail but am dodging the clients, as I still consider myself on vacation. Consider my trip an excursion deep behind enemy lines, into Hillaryland.

One thought troubles me even more than the necessity of returning to work. Why are New York City bagels so robust? And why in contrast are West Coast bagels so anemic?

As a strictly kosher consumer who spends his New York sojourning mostly in Manhattan, my favorite bagel purveyors are H&H Bagels and Bagels & Co. The former is the best source for take-out bagels by the bag for the office breakfast or Sunday brunch at home. The latter is the best bet for in-premises dining, as they have an assortment of bagel sandwiches, to say nothing of delicious pizza, quiche, pastries, even poached salmon.

By contrast, the foremost bagel baker in Los Angeles is Western Bagel, which is very good, if you can't get a bagel from New York. Reader, please compare the photo of the robust H&H bagels above with the picture of Western Bagels below. In fairness to Western Bagel, please disregard that its photo portrays a plain bagel, while the photo of H&H bagels show an assortment. Believe me, the contrast is just as great between the respective plain bagel offerings of these two bakers.
It is not merely a matter of size, although here surely size counts. Once one bites into the bagel, the New York City variety offers more resistance, more character, more chewiness, more of what you eat a bagel for.

If you don't believe me, try this test. Order some H&H Bagels online--they ship nearly anywhere. Buy the same variety of Western Bagels fresh from their main Van Nuys bakery or one of their store locations. Compare the two. Tell me I'm wrong, if you dare.


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