[St. Viateur bagel with egg, bacon, and cream cheese]


THE BIG BAGEL SHOWDOWN!!! A few summers back, Min and I patiently waited in line at H&H Bagels so that I could inculcate him into the ginormous toasted everything-bagel-with-lox-capers-cream cheese-tomato-and-onion concoction that is impossible to actually eat as a sandwich even though it is listed as such on their menu. H&H is my go-to brunch-wich when I’m feeling like I’m in need of some self-soothing. But despite my love of H&H, I have recently discovered that my current affections and affinity lie with the Montreal-style bagel. I know, I know. I can hear your howls of disgust already. And yet…I persist. Okay? Just as the French beignet is to the American donut, so is the Montreal bagel to the New York one, which is to say…Montreal is better. For now. Sorry, not sorry.

Min has been wanting to have a true showdown of the two, never having tried the Montreal-style. And so thanks to Goldbelly we had a couple dozen of each shipped out to try. This time around, we ordered Ess-a-bagels to represent NYC, and St. Viateur pour la version française. In the end, they’re just really two different things, like comparing apples and automobiles. New York-style bagels are essential when you want to top it like a mofo, with schmears and thick slices of tomatoes, egg, onion, what-have-you. The St. Viateur bagel would look at you in horror if you tried to dress it in that outfit. But the St. Viateur really shines when you want something simple and crisp, with a touch of sweet chewiness. I like it best in the late afternoon with some butter on top and a cup of coffee nearby.

I’ve been finding myself in the St. Viateur mode more often lately — staring out the window, watching Linus snore in the yard, contemplating my delightfully chewy snack. But I can imagine a time in a post-Covid world when I’ll beckon the hearty NYC bagel on back. Those colossal dough discs stand up so much better to being torn apart and schmeared away as pitchers of bottomless mimosas pass from hand to hand.

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