Saturday, March 26, 2011

I heart NY (+ Mtl)

russ & daughters fig. a: nice fish!

As you may already know, we're big, big fans of New York's incomparable Russ & Daughters ("Appetizing since 1914"!). We love their egg creams, we love the Old New York atmosphere ("You call this a snowstorm?! I remember when a snowstorm was a snowstorm. Remember Burt Lancaster in Atlantic City? 'You should have seen the Atlantic Ocean back then.' Well, you should have seen the snowstorms back in 1950..."), and we especially like their assortment of smoked and cured fish. In fact, we've taken to making Russ & Daughters one of our last stops every time we visit the Big Onion,* so we can bring back "souvenirs," like their amazing sable.

sable, russ & daughters fig. b: R & D sable

We come home, make ourselves a fish platter (comprised of sable, peppered smoked mackerel with orange and lemon zest, "pastrami-style" gravlax, and Baltic rye, perhaps), and it's like we never left.

i heart ny fig. c: R & D fish platter


The thing is, we always bring back some NY bagels and bialys too. We're not ones to make blanket statements about bagels based purely on geography (regional differences can be interesting, but, fundamentally, it's all about individual bakeries), even if we do get pulled into "the great bagel debate" from time to time. But this time there was no question about it: our Russ & Daughters sable, mackerel, and gravlax tasted better on a Fairmount bagel than it did on a Russ & Daughters bagel (a bagel they describe as "the Real Thing": "rolled by hand, boiled and the perfectly timed in an old-fashioned revolving oven"). I used to love a real New York bagel. I still love a real New York bagel on a philosophical level. But if this is "the Real Thing," is it possible the real New York bagel has gone the way of Old New York? Russ & Daughters' bialys sure ain't what they used to be.

i heart ny + mtl fig. d: Mtl + NY

Of course, our Russ & Daughters sable, mackerel, and gravlax tasted better on a Fairmount bagel with Russ & Daughters cream cheese than it did with any cream cheese you can get at Fairmount Bagel (or anywhere else in Montreal), but that's another story.

Anyway, help us, New York bagel aficionados! This isn't a competition and we're certainly not in favor of New Yorkers (or anyone else) paying exorbitant prices for imported "Montreal bagels" (that's just ridiculous). No, seriously. Let's talk bakeries. Where can we find the definitive New York bagel these days?


* It's frequently our very first stop, too.


Anonymous said...

Have you guys been to Acme Smoked Fish in Greenpoint? It's where Russ and Daughters get their fish. It's not the same experience and they're only open to the public from 8-1 on Friday mornings but if you're ever in town on a Friday you really have to check it out. There's nothing like a massive bag of smoked fish to make you feel like you've really accomplished something.

aj kinik said...

Hi, legberg,
that's an awesome tip--we actually just heard about Acme for the first time on our last trip to NY and, unfortunately, we weren't there on a Friday--next time!--I could used a massive bag of sable right about now...

Anonymous said...

now i wonder how that sable would taste on a portland maine bagel, because i have been very impressed with the bagels i've eaten here - soft and chewy and pliant and generously salty, like they were dipped in the nearby ocean. had a superb all-dressed bagel with maine smoked salmon at 158 pickett yesterday morning and it was pretty close to perfect.

Ian said...


Sadly the comment ("Daddy, how come the bagels in Kansas City taste like white bread.") of Calvin Trillin's New York raised daughter Abigail now applies to those from her home town.

I am usually in the Laurentians for a week each summer and (paraphrasing Trillins buddy Fats Goldberg) Montreal is my bagel DMZ (Fairmount for sesame, St Viateur for poppy).

Cross your fingers that B&B Empire will change this.


aj kinik said...

hi, Popcornsnaps,
not sure, but I'd love to give the combo a whirl--did you bring back any samples?

hi, Ian,
i'd forgotten about that quote--thanks for the reminder--I like the idea of a bagel DMZ--their hot sesame seed bagels are great, but you know it's your day when you manage to score fresh, HOT poppy seed bagels from Fairmount