Last year was the first time I experienced a New York City bagel.
How could I have been in and out of the city so many times in my life and never tried a food which basically spells:
The reason, dear friends, is two-fold. For starters, there is the fear of disappointment. Often I will avoid trying a food if I am afraid it isn’t going to live up to the expectations I have set for it. Then there are the overwhelming number of choices, which leads to the fear of choosing the wrong place.
* I know, this sounds crazy. But I’m crazy serious about my food.
Chances are, like most iconic NYC foods, there are several bagel locations worthy of the “Best NYC Bagel” award. Yet the first we visited has been the one Lance is stuck on. In fact, when I suggested we try a bagel place closer to the American Museum of Natural History*, he stared at me as if I had suggested we skip the bagels altogether and have oatmeal** at home.
*Where we were going to be all day…
Having now visited Absolute Bagels three times and loved it every single time, I am convinced that the secret to the best bagels in the world is New York City. Specifically, New York City water.
If you know anything about NYC bagels, then you know the basics of the process are this: hand rolled dough, which is then boiled, and then baked.
Other bagel places should be able to get this down.
But they simply can’t.
Though there are plenty of bagel places in New Jersey that I love, they simply do not have the same chew or crust about them.
Beyond the iconic NYC bagel is the NYC bagel loaded with cream cheese and lox–another thing I’ve longed to try, yet have been too terrified to order.
What if I ordered it and hated it?
At Absolute Bagels, they have a lox cream cheese spread or nova and cream cheese on a bagel. If you are anything like me, you might possibly need Google to explain what that means. Lox is brined salmon. Instead of laying the lox on a bagel spread with cream cheese, their lox is premixed into cream cheese and spread on the bagel. Nova, though similar to lox, is a specialty of its own. It refers specifically to Nova Scotia salmon that has been smoked.
This was the classic NYC bagel combination I needed to try.
It was interesting, with a surprisingly sweet taste reminiscent of strawberry. The slices of salmon put me in mind of deli meat. I neither loved it nor disliked it. It was simply different. In case you’re wondering, I did order a second bagel: my classic order of an egg bagel with plain cream cheese.
It was divine.
As we got off the subway near the museum, Amy spotted this…
…and we were basically just as excited about a piece of Banksy street art as we had been about the bagels.
When we were heading back to our car at around 9:30 that night, I noticed that Absolute Bagels was still open. It’s fair to say I was unreasonably giddy over the fact that they were still open and that I was able to score a dozen plain bagels to bring home with us.
They’re that important to life.
Amy, after her first bite of her first NYC bagel. Note the long line behind her.
New York, NY 10025