Posts Tagged ‘Bagels’

Canada Wrap-Up – Beer, Shawarma, Bagels, and Sugar Pie

Thursday, July 11th, 2013 by virginia

In addition to imbibing on some great wines over the weekend, we tasted a few local brews in both Quebec City and Montreal. At Le Sacrilege in Quebec City, we tried the blonde, red, and white beers. Josh loved the refreshing crispness of the blonde, while I thought the finish on the red was a bit too bland. It did have an interesting coffee flavor component to it that I didn’t expect. The white beer was a hefeweizen with a strong wheat flavor. I enjoyed it a lot, even though it was freezing outside and I typically associate hefeweizens with summertime. It was served with both a lemon and a lime wedge.

In Montreal, our bar of choice, Brutopia on Crescent Street, was way too crowded for us to bring J in, so we settled for Les 3 Brasseurs, which is much bigger and had space for us and J’s stroller at the front of the bar. Les 3 Brasseurs looks like a chain restaurant, but they do brew their own beer (the name translates to The 3 Brewers). We tried the brown and the amber. The amber packed a decent punch, but the brown was slightly disappointing. It had won a few awards so we were expecting a bit more complexity in flavor.

After leaving Les 3 Brasseurs, we walked up Crescent Street towards Amir for a late night snack of shawarma and shish taouk. It was always our post-drinking destination back in college when we would visit Montreal. We got one of each on pita and took it back to our hotel room, where we ate it with the leftover pied de cochon. Sadly, the sandwiches were not as good as I remembered. The beef shawarma was a bit too spiced for my liking, but Josh enjoyed it. The shish taouk (chicken shawarma) was always my favorite, but this time I found it exceedingly dry and under seasoned. The garlic mayo was bland, and the pickled vegetables were sparse. I was disappointed, but I’m sure there are other places to get better shawarma and shish taouk in the city. Amir was just a nostalgic place for us to visit.

Shish taouk and shawarma pitas from Amir

Shish taouk and shawarma pitas from Amir

We finished up our Canadian adventure with a few Montreal-style bagels from two famed locations: St-Viateur Bagel Shop and Fairmount Bagel. The Fairmount Bagel shop had a fairly long line when we were there, though it moved quickly. We were in and out of the store in just a few minutes (even though Josh had to run out and find an ATM since it’s cash only). We picked up an everything, a chocolate chip, and a caraway seed bagel to eat in the car on our way home.


The St-Viateur Bagel Shop, on the other hand, was mostly empty. The production is a bit more impressive there though, as it is easier to watch the bagels being made in the back. Josh ran in and picked up an everything and a rosemary bagel for us to share.


So which bagels did we prefer? Fairmount, hands down. They seemed fresher and chewier, with a better crust. The dough also tasted more seasoned, with good flavor throughout. While I liked the everything bagel the best (it’s our baseline bagel), I was particularly intrigued by the chocolate chip bagel. The chocolate chips added a slight sweetness to the savory dough but it was far from being a dessert. I haven’t seen chocolate chip bagels here in NYC/NJ, and I wish there were some around so I could eat them more frequently! Josh loved the caraway bagel, as he is into anything caraway (particularly caraway-flavored spirits, ie., Brennivin).

Everything bagel, chocolate chip bagel, and caraway seed bagel from Fairmount Bagels

Everything bagel, chocolate chip bagel, and caraway seed bagel from Fairmount Bagels

The St-Viateur bagels were blander, with a drier texture that gave it a stale quality. Even the everything bagel was lacking in taste, as the toppings didn’t do much to help the flavorless dough. The rosemary bagel at least had rosemary running throughout the dough, so I preferred that one. But these bagels were a disappointment compared to Fairmount (although neither place stacked up to our favorite bagel shop in NJ).

Everything bagel and rosemary bagel from St-Viateur Bagel

Everything bagel and rosemary bagel from St-Viateur Bagel

The last item we picked up for our car ride home was sugar pie. I had read about it when researching Quebecois specialties, and I had wanted to try it at Au Pied de Cochon but we ran out of time and stomach room. I googled a place to buy it and came up with La Foumagerie, a specialty cheese shop/cafe in Westmount, just outside the city. Josh ran in to pick some up for us, and came back with two individually wrapped slices. He said the woman behind the counter was reluctant to sell it to him by the slice because it was the last pie left (I guess they mostly sell whole pies), but luckily for us, she eventually acquiesced.


I unwrapped one and dug in immediately. It was sweet and maple-y, just as I expected. It’s basically a pie filled with soft, crumbly, maple sugar candy. The fresh slice was slightly gooey, dripping out sticky streams of maple syrup. We saved the second slice for later, and by that point, the syrup was more incorporated in the filling and no longer drippy. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed both slices. It was not cloyingly sweet, but had more of a caramelized maple sugar flavor.

Slice of sugar pie

Slice of sugar pie

The drive home went by quickly, and thus ended our little Canadian adventure. The trip was a success overall, as we got to try a lot of great food and we handled Baby J pretty well on our own. Hopefully there will be a lot more travel in our future!

View of Quebec City at sunset

View of Quebec City at sunset

Notre Dame in Montreal

Notre Dame in Montreal

Le Sacrilege
447 Rue Saint-Jean
Quebec City, Canada

Les 3 Brasseurs
1356 St-Catherine St. W.
Montreal, Canada

1333 Boulevard De Maisonneuve Ouest
Montreal, Canada

Fairmount Bagel
74 Avenue Fairmount Ouest
Montreal, Canada

St-Viateur Bagel
263 Rue Saint Viateur Ouest
Montreal, Canada

La Foumagerie
4906 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest

Westmount, Canada

Forbidden Food Indulgence

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012 by virginia

As you might have been able to guess based on the above picture, I finally got my bagel with lox, scallion cream cheese, tomato, and red onion, which means that Josh and I welcomed our daughter, Baby J, into the world!

Fortunately, I was in labor for only about six hours, which is considered to be short for first time mothers. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to eat before we went to the hospital, and once you’re there, you can’t eat anything. When all was said and done, I didn’t get settled into my room until almost 11 pm, 13 hours after my breakfast of waffles and orange juice. By that point, I was starving. Labor might have been short, but man, it was hard work!

However, the hospital kitchen was closed due to the late hour, so my food choices were limited to either a turkey sandwich, a tuna fish sandwich, or yogurt. I was happy to eat turkey after abstaining from deli meats for so long, but this was a pretty sad, dried out, pre-made turkey sandwich. I managed to get some mayo from the nurse, which helped a little, but it wasn’t the best post-pregnancy meal.

Sad hospital turkey sandwich

Luckily, Josh’s cousin brought him some food from the California Pizza Kitchen, and while he focused on the pizza, I gobbled up most of the caesar salad, another forbidden food that I had been craving throughout my pregnancy. While I made caesar dressing at home without any eggs (which just isn’t the same), I could never be sure if restaurant dressings included raw egg, and so I always abstained when eating out.

CPK caesar salad

I did take a bite of Josh’s Thai chicken pizza, which was cold but still tasty. It wasn’t what I was in the mood for at the time, but I was happy to be able to eat the bean sprouts on top without panicking.

CPK Thai chicken pizza

Food-wise, the next day was a much better experience. While the hospital food wasn’t terrible, it was pretty bland, but that didn’t matter because we were getting plenty of food from the outside. First was the above pictured bagel with lox, which was as good as I remembered. The lox was glossy and rich, pairing perfectly with the scallion cream cheese. Next was a spread of prosciutto San Daniele with baguette. And I really do mean a spread! There was almost a full pound of thinly sliced meat, which Josh laid it out along the counter in our room, and we encouraged visitors to help themselves.

Prosciutto San Daniele and pieces of baguette

Of all the deli meats I couldn’t eat, prosciutto was definitely near the top of ones that I missed the most. Our usual summertime meal of mozzarella, tomato, basil, and prosciutto on slices of baguette was just not the same without prosciutto. Although Josh indulged occasionally while I looked on jealously, he was pretty good about not eating it front of me very often. I definitely ate a hefty portion of the thin, melt-in-your-mouth San Daniele at the hospital, and enjoyed every bit of it.

Prosciutto up close

The day we went home from the hospital, we had lots of relatives over to visit Baby J. Josh’s parents brought in a spread from The Kosher Nosh, and I was able to satisfy my Jewish deli meat craving. There was tons of corned beef, pastrami, tongue, and turkey, as well as cole slaw and potato salad, which I also was not allowed to eat during my pregnancy (no deli salads, especially ones that are mayo-based). I ended up making lots of half sandwiches with the individual meats – tongue is still my favorite!

Deli spread from The Kosher Nosh

And my most recent forbidden food indulgence? Sushi! I’m still not allowed to eat fish that is high in mercury (like tuna and yellowtail), so I only had the salmon sushi, the Alaska roll, and the ikura sushi. While yellowtail is my favorite fish and I still miss it, the salmon sushi was still pretty satisfying.

Lots of fresh sushi

Is this the end of the post-pregnancy forbidden food indulgence? Of course not! I’m still looking forward to a nice rare steak, like the steak frites we used to eat at Les Halles, tuna/chicken/egg salad, rare lamb chops, a beautifully runny poached or sunnyside up egg, among a million other things. But I’ve got plenty of time now to satisfy all of my cravings! Although, the lack of sleep with a newborn is definitely no joke…

Holiday Wrap-Up and Tailgate Party

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010 by virginia

We spent the Christmas long weekend in NJ, of course, having Christmas dinner with my parents on Friday, Hanukkah brunch on Saturday afternoon (Josh’s parents were away the actual week of Hanukkah), and attending the last Giants game at Giants Stadium on Sunday. We did a lot of eating that weekend, feasting on a variety of foods.

Christmas Dinner

With my brother and sister both living out of state, neither of them could make it home for Christmas this year so we didn’t really have a big, elaborate meal since it was just me, Josh, and my parents. We kept it super simple with a hot pot filled with tofu, fish cakes, cabbage, and thin slices of pork.

Hot pot chock full of tofu, fish cakes, cabbage, and pork

In keeping with tradition, we dipped all the items into a combination of sha cha (Chinese bbq sauce) and hot sauce before eating them. The pot bubbled away on an electric hot plate in the middle of the table and we merrily threw more items into it until we couldn’t eat any more, and the broth was rich and flavorful.

More tofu and pork ready to go into the hot pot

We also had a big plate of pan fried soup dumplings, which Josh and I request every time we’re at my parents’ house. Even though they buy them frozen at a Chinese supermarket, these dumplings are actually really good. They have thicker skin than most soup dumplings but the filling is hearty and flavorful.

Yummy soup dumplings

Lastly, we had stir fried beef cooked with scallions, hot chilies, and the latest harvest of pimientos de padron. The padron peppers actually worked really well with the beef, making kind of a fusion twist on pepper steak.

Stir fried beef with scallions, chilies, and pimientos de padron

Hanukkah Brunch

Instead of exchanging gifts every night of Hanukkah, Josh’s family usually does gifts all on one day. We get together with his parents, sister, aunt, uncle, and cousins and have a big brunch first before digging into all of the presents. The highlight of the brunch is always Alice’s latkes, which she makes from a mixture of potatoes, onions, and matzo meal. She blends the ingredients together and then fries up the batter, which makes for a crispy outside and a creamy inside.

Potato latkes

This year Josh decided to fry up a batch using bacon fat, which Alice wasn’t too happy about. Is that sacrilegious? I don’t know, but in the end, there wasn’t much noticeable difference in the bacon fat latkes. They were maybe slightly crispier on the outside but there was only a hint of bacon flavor in the background, and it wasn’t worth the effort to collect the bacon fat.

Potato latkes fried in bacon fat

Brunch at Josh’s house also isn’t complete without bagels from Three Star Bagels in Teaneck, NJ. I haven’t found a bagel in NYC that even comes close to Three Star in terms of flavor and texture. Jersey bagels are bigger than NYC bagels, which a lot of people might not like, but since I love bagels, the more the better. The crust on a fresh Three Star bagel is both crispy and chewy, and inside is airy and chewy but not too dense. These are my favorite bagels, hands down.

The best bagels

You can’t have bagels without an assortment of schmears. We got both scallion cream cheese and lox cream cheese. My preference is the scallion, since its chock full of chopped up scallion that adds a nice freshness.

Lox and scallion cream cheese

I also prefer the scallion cream cheese because I love to pile lox onto my bagels, and doing that on lox cream cheese would just be overkill. I absolutely love lox, and could eat it every day.

Lots of lox, with tomatoes and onions on the side

The salads at Three Star are also top notch. We always get the egg salad, tuna salad, and chicken salad, and break off pieces of bagel to eat with each one. My personal favorite is the tuna salad, as it’s not overly mayo-y or fishy.

Tuna salad (in front), egg salad, and chicken salad

We also got a container of whitefish salad, which was a bit salty and oily. While it wasn’t bad flavor-wise, I still prefer tuna salad.

Whitefish salad

Lastly, we had some slices mozzarella and prosciutto rolls. It was pre-packaged so I didn’t think it would be that good but it was actually delicious. The prosciutto was flavorful and the mozzarella was milky and soft. There were some basil leaves in the center of the roll that tied it all together.

Prosciutto and mozzarella rolls

Tailgate Party

Last summer we got tickets to go to the Giants game that would be over Christmas weekend. We figured it would be convenient since we knew we’d be in NJ that weekend anyway. We didn’t realize that this would be the last Giants game ever at Giants Stadium, which made it all the more exciting. We planned on meeting our friends in the parking lot around 9 am to do some tailgating.

Our tailgating spot right outside gate C

Josh and I volunteered to take care of the chili, which we put together the night before. It was simple – just ground beef, peppers, onions, kidney beans, and lots of garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin. We brought it in a big pot and heated it up on the small grill that our friends brought for the occasion.

Big pot of chili

Our friends took care of everything else, which was really awesome of them. After we warmed up with cups of chili, the brats were next up on the grill. First they were cooked in a pan with onions and beer.

Brats in a beer and onion bath

Then they were placed directly on the grill to get some nice char and grill marks on the outside. These were the first brats I’ve ever eaten (surprisingly!) and I liked them a lot. Juicy, flavorful, and the onions were a nice touch.

Perfectly grilled brat

We finished off with two giant racks of ribs, which were rubbed with a spice mixture first and then slathered with tasty bbq sauce. The ribs came out tender and flavorful even though we were running a bit short on time.

Two giant racks of ribs on the grill

We had also intended to make burgers but ran out of time before the game started. Unfortunately, the Giants didn’t show up for this game at all. It really was quite a disgrace, and we left early, completely disappointed.

Beautiful day for football but bad game overall

Still, it was a gorgeous day, chilly but not freezing, and we had a blast tailgating. It’s nice to be able to drink beer at 9:30 am and not feel guilty about it! When we got cold the guys warmed up with some scotch while the girls stuck with hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps. I couldn’t believe the number of people out tailgating so early in the morning, but the atmosphere was fun and festive. I definitely hope that we’ll be able to do this again!

Three Star Bagels
402 Cedar Lane
Teaneck, NJ