MFS Part 3: Montreal-Style Bagel SHOWDOWN

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fairmount Bagel
74 Fairmount West
Montreal, Quebec
(514) 272-0667
Open 24 Hours!!
St. Viateur Bagel
263 St. Viateur West
Montreal, Quebec
(514) 528-6361
Open 24 Hours!!

Sigh.... Just not the same..
I tried getting back into the bagel vibe by eating one while writing this part of MFS, but clearly mass produced, Country Harvest Bagels just don't do it justice in comparison to the hand rolled gluten rings of awesome better known as Montreal-Style bagels.

To give you a little background on what makes a Montreal-Style bagel so distinctive in contrast to the more prominent New York style bagel (similar to the one I ate pictured above); Montreal-Style bagels are smaller, sweeter (boiled in honey-sweetened water before baking), more dense, have a larger center hole (because they are almost always handrolled), they do not contain salt but do contain eggs. To top it off, they are always, always, ALWAYS baked in a wood-fire oven which is fundamental to giving the bagels the crispy exterior and chewy core as well as the spotted light and dark surface colour from the irregular flame.

The Bagel Man...
with a master plan
The legacy of Montreal-Style bagels coming to North America dates back to around 1880 when Polish and Eastern European Jewish immigrants came to Montreal. Now there is some controversy about who brought this heavenly dough halo to the City of Saints first and it has been reportedly to have begun by Chaim (Hyman) Seligman. It was said that Seligman worked on St. Laurent Boulevard right by the iconic Schwartz's Delicatessen (MFS Part 4), selling dozens of strung up bagels originally by pushcart, then horse and wagon and eventually on a converted taxi. The two other big players involved included Myer Lewkowicz and Jack Shlafman. Historians say that Seligman had a falling out with both Lewkowicz and Shlafman. The first actual bagel storefront was opened by Shlafman who established Fairmount Bagel in 1919 and Seligman and Lewkowicz founded the St.Viateur Bagel Shop in 1957. 

Creeepy Bagel man....
Confused?? Me too, sounds like Seligman's pushcart/converted taxi was around for quite awhile before he opened St.Viateur Bagel giving Shlafman a 38 year headstart with an actual store front?? Anyways, to address another point, who's bagels are better?!?! There was only one way to find out: Taste test challenge!! 

Bagel bag... Say that 5 times fast!
Kristel and Kasia ventured out to bagel town to get some fresh out the wood fired oven bagels while I tried to find the car (and failed) to move and avoid a parking ticket (Montreal has some of the weirdest parking rules ever...). The girls returned returned with half a dozen, still warm bagels from both St. Viateur and Fairmount Bagel shops. 

In the red corner, from Fairmount Bagel, comes a regular bagel and from the blue corner, representing St.Viateur bagel, we have a crowd favourite: sesame seed. Both bagels were consumed with delicious whipped cream cheese (that is only sold at St.Viateur and not Fairmount by the way). Immediately from the get go, St.Viateur had an upperhand as it was still warm due to the fact that sesame seed bagels are baked most frequently. Don't get me wrong, Fairmount's original was also tasty but its almost an unfair advantage since it was not as fresh as St.Viateur's (I think the girls went to Fairmount first). Still, both had exceptional flavour but it was St. Viateur's crispy exterior crust and warm, chewy interior that won my heart. These rings of goodness were so exceptional, you don't even have to cut them in half, just rip pieces off and dunk them in cream cheese...and that's exactly what we did.... the whole car ride home to Toronto!!

Do I have you craving a bagel yet?? Don't take my word for it, next time you are in La Belle Province, do not pass up the opportunity to try both of these Bagel titans and decide yourself who's bagel reigns supreme!



Post a Comment