Real New Yorkers Don't Toast Bagels

An essay on bagel toasting and interviews with prominent bagelers about bagels, bialys, best bagel flavors, and the answer to the eternal question: to toast?


"Integrity? It's preference," noted Juda Engelmayer, president of Kossar's Bialys. Even so, his first response was telling, "A fresh hot bagel needs no toasting, but a bagel stored in your freezer and thawed could use a toasting to get it going."

Another bageler, Arye Lewkovitz, the owner of Daniel's Bagels was more declarative: "Not to toast. First of all, when you bake the bagels, and they’re coming very fresh, they’re already crispy outside and soft inside. People that come from out of town, or another state, their bakeries bake them and make them once or twice a day, so, often when they get them they’re very hard. So they like to toast them to make them as if they’re fresh. We keep our ovens on all day. So we’re constantly making fresh bagels that are crispy outside and soft inside. So there’s no need to toast them."

Hear that? Real New Yorkers don't toast. What about a more recent addition to New York City's bagel scene? Call it "The Mile End Effect," a growing number of Montreal bagels making inroads in Gotham. Joel Tietolman, the founder and managing partner of Mile End Montreal Bagel wouldn't speak about New York bagels, but noted, "A Montreal bagel goes back to its original-hot-out-of-the-oven gooeyness after a light toasting. It’s a known trick that if sliced as soon as possible and frozen, that a quick toast brings them back to an incredible fresh-tasting bagel."

And where would say Vince Morena, the president of the storied St-Viateur Bagel in Montreal, Canada, weigh in on this? "Given the choice, hot and fresh out of the oven," Vince agreed. "But toasting for me is all right. And believe it or not, I keep bagels in my fridge. I tend to toast them whole to give them that crispy oven effect."

monalisabagelAll this having been said, I admit, when I asked my hometown bageler his preference my heart fell. "It may not be correct, but I’m a Jew at heart, and Jews love toast!" admitted Bagel Boss's founder Adam Rosner, laughing. "I do! I love toast, man. A toasted bialy is the Jewish English Muffin." But he was talking about regular toast, right? How about bagels? "A plain bagel, would I toast a bagel? I do."

Even so, you have to concede, he knows it's not right. Which brings this random sampling of experts on the toast matter to six out of nine (seven out of ten counting Sheraton). So, you. Yeah, you. Stop toasting. Go find a good bagel. And don't even get me started on the right amount of cream cheese.

Click here for full interviews with the eight bagel experts above as they discuss toasting, cream cheese, and their biggest competitors.



Be a Part of the Conversation

Have something to say?
Add a comment (or see what others think).

Comments 41
3.149255
Ratings134


Like this story? Get updates by email, facebook and twitter
Get daily food and wine coverage


Latest from The Daily Meal

The Daily Meal Video Network
Strawberry Brie Grilled Cheese

41 Comments

Judi Hershel's picture

Believe it or not, not that many of aspire to be a "real New Yorker."

tdm-35-icon.png

Toasting a bagel? Yuck might as well eat stale bread.

Why ruin a good bagel by making it stale?

tdm-35-icon.png

Eat your bagel as you see fit...but I'd be damned if I would get that worked up over bread.

tdm-35-icon.png

Of course, those who aren't from NYC usually can't tolerate the self-important, obnoxious b.s. of those who are for more than five minutes, so I guess it doesn't much matter.

tdm-35-icon.png

One week after this article was posted H&H bagel filed for bankruptcy.

You can eat your bagel any way you want. That's what's great about this country.

But for me a great fresh bagel loses something by toasting. Just like great sushi cannot be appreciated slathered on tons of Wasabi. The flavor of a truly great steak is masked by Ketchup. A great pastrami sandwich loses something when served with mayo, lettuce and tomato. If you ever encounter any truly great versions of these foods, go out of you comfort zone and try them the way natives eat them. You may like it better or maybe you won't. Keep an open mind (an important life skill in everything you do - wish more people were truly good at it).

tdm-35-icon.png

Actually real Philly Cheese Steaks come from Pat's in South Phila., but the "lunch trucks" that haunted the corners of 36th and Locust Walk when I was at the University of Pennsylvania are what many U. of Pa. alums consider "cheese steaks"--which you can get with grilled onions and pizza sauce. Go Flyers!!!

tdm-35-icon.png

Just as there is not such thing as a Philly Cheese Steak outside of Philadelphia (and don't you dare call it Philly--Yo!); no Pizza outside of South Philly); there just may be no bagel outside of NY. I gave up being a food fascist a long time ago, however. Face it, only someone over 50 likely even knows what "lox" is, that pizza is an American phenomenon, or that the best Texas steaks actually come from Kansas City (the same goes for barbeque--but as David Byrne noted a long time ago, God invented a species of humans to live in Texas who "like it here" despite the fact that it is unlivable. Oh, and you cannot get real fajitas outside of San Antonio. Eat that, New York!

tdm-35-icon.png

Just as there is not such thing as a Philly Cheese Steak outside of Philadelphia (and don't you dare call it Philly--Yo!); no Pizza outside of South Philly); there just may be no bagel outside of NY. I gave up being a food fascist a long time ago, however. Face it, only someone over 50 likely even knows what "lox" is, that pizza is an American phenomenon, or that the best Texas steaks actually come from Kansas City (the same goes for barbeque--but as David Byrne noted a long time ago, God invented a species of humans to live in Texas who "like it here" despite the fact that it is unlivable. Oh, and you cannot get real fajitas outside of San Antonio. Eat that, New York!

tdm-35-icon.png

shuuuuuuuuuuuut uuuuuuuuuup.

tdm-35-icon.png

The article was way too long and drawn out, but the basic message is correct. If you toast a good, fresh bagel, you are a savage with no taste. Fight it all you want, but it's the truth. Deal with it.

tdm-35-icon.png

Agree! Now I am stuck in GA and people think I am a freak. But they also eat bad bagels here (though we have real ones if you make an effort).

tdm-35-icon.png

What a pretentious, silly article. I'll eat my bagels any g'damn way i choose.

tdm-35-icon.png

New York Bagels that are baked in the most authentic scenario are second to none. What is it that makes them taste the way they do? Water boiling method ? The water that nyc gets. Humidity. Attitude? Experience Air Altitude? Everybody has their own argument but the truth is noone can pin point the Exact recipe. The fact just remains that New York Bagels are second to none! For gifts and expats try www.BestNewYorkBagel.com

tdm-35-icon.png

New York Bagels that are baked in the most authentic scenario are second to none. What is it that makes them taste the way they do? Water boiling method ? The water that nyc gets. Humidity. Attitude? Experience Air Altitude? Everybody has their own argument but the truth is noone can pin point the Exact recipe. The fact just remains that New York Bagels are second to none! For gifts and expats try www.BestNewYorkBagel.com

tdm-35-icon.png

Speaking as a hick from flyover land, I just want to say how fortunate I feel to have someone from the right coast take the time to show me the error of my toasting ways. What would we unwashed masses do without all that wisdom?

tdm-35-icon.png

what a pretentious article.

tdm-35-icon.png

I was born, raised, and Bar Mitzvahed in Flatbush and moved to Forest HIlls when I was 20. Fifteen years later I moved to Manhattan where I've been ever since. So my pedigree is intact. I would have a bagel as last meal. Simply put, there are no rules on how to eat a bagel, and by bagel I don't mean anything with blueberries or raisins in it. When slathering on Philly and lox, I prefer my bagels un-toasted, I'm not a big fan of melted cream cheese or slightly warm salmon. with butter, my preferred topping, the bagel must be toasted medium dark, to allow for some charring of the crust and it's accompanying crunch, but not too dark to ruin the soft integrity of the bagel's interior. And by the way, I've never had a bagel in Manhattan that comes close to the ones you can find in the outer boroughs, H&H is sheer bagel hackery.

tdm-35-icon.png

I grew up in Brooklyn, lived and worked there for 35 years, was a teamster in Manhattan for 15 of those years, ate every bagel store bagel known to man. Moved to Bergen County, NJ 20 years ago and was the ultimate NY food snob. You can't get good pizza or Chinese food out here, and the water sucks. However, there is a bagel store in River Edge called Kinderkamack Hot Bagels that rivals any bagel store the five boroughs has to offer. If you are in the area, check the place out, you will be very happy you did.

tdm-35-icon.png

WAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

DIFFERENT PEOPLE DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY AND IT'S WRONG!!!

WAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

tdm-35-icon.png

Here in Cali, you have to toast your bagel, but back in New York -when I got 'em right out of the oven and the butter drips off- it would be a sin to toast it. They didn't need it.

tdm-35-icon.png

I live in central NJ, and its rare to get a fresh bagel right out of the oven. They are usually just sitting in their assigned batch, so toasting is a must. I have had bagels right out of the oven before, and because I have become so accustomed to toasting my bagels to a golden crisp, I even toasted the few that were right out of the oven. I am an African Sicilian, and I like my pizza well-done, my loaf of bread fresh and thorougly cooked, and my bagels toasted dark too. We all have our preferences. I wanna give NY fresh bagels a shot- w/o toasting for a change. (I love my well-done dough though)

tdm-35-icon.png

wow, this is one dull, overly written article. i like bagels. i am not a new yorker-let alone the ever elusive real new yorker. what ever that is.

i thought i might learn something interesting about bagels. instead i get a slapdash, rambling p.o.s. article about an opinion that reinforces nyc exceptionalism. go figure. i'll eat my bagel as i please.

tdm-35-icon.png

haha
signed,
new yorker in florida. toasted. go figure!

tdm-35-icon.png

I'm responding to your NYT piece on NY bagelries. First: you lost credibility when you said a bagel should have nova; a bagel deserves only the best -- lox. I f you don't know the difference, shame on you. Second, bagels didn't used to be sweet: what happened? Get rid of the sugar AND the malt!

tdm-35-icon.png

I live in Detroit. We do not have much in the way of fresh hot bagel places in my hood. The closest place has what passes for bagels and even at 7:00am they are never warm. Soft and crusty, but cold. It's all I have. I must toast if I want it warm. I feel so sad, but it is what it is until I move out of this bagel desert.

tdm-35-icon.png

"Real New Yorkers"??? Seriously??? Real New Yorkers don't give a shit what your stupid pols say. With 3 million people, don't tell me what REAL NY ERS do.

So fucking stupid

tdm-35-icon.png

Would you toast a pretzel? Same difference in my opinion. But i'll be honest, there is a time, place and application, IE in the addition of smoked salmon, in my case.

tdm-35-icon.png

I agree wholeheartedly that a fresh bagel is best eaten untoasted. When I get to NYC I have a nice, fresh bagel with lox and cream cheese, no toasting necessary ... or desired !
However, living in a relatively bagel-free zone in Ohio, I do on occasion resort to purchasing frozen bagels. These MUST be toasted to be even remotely comestible.

tdm-35-icon.png

When I first moved from the midwest to nyc, I had never had a bagel. This was the mid 50's. 2 blocks from our apartment was a bagel bakery. Let's just say that I became a steady customer and to this day, I would NOT dream of toasting a fresh bagel. Frankly, in those days, we never had left over bagels. No problem. Now I have bagels flown in as well as other delicacies such as rugelah, biayls, and often time fresh NYC bagels as a treat for my family. Yep, over 50 years and I still love a NYC bagel the best.

tdm-35-icon.png

I've been trying to tell my mother this for years.

Here in DC, the point is moot. We don't have bagels here. We have round things made of dough, and they are labeled bagels, but they are not.

Add a Comment

Upload a picture of yourself no larger than 3MB, please see Terms for details
CAPTCHA
Please answer this Captcha to prove you are human
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
CAPTCHA
Please answer this Captcha to prove you are human