I didn’t grow up in New York or among any kind of bagel aficionados. When I think of bagels in a bakery, I don’t imagine them being fresh or hot. I imagine them being carted in with all the other pastries. I think of the ones I buy at the grocery store that serve mostly as cream cheese delivery devices.
But the other night I met up with a bunch of bloggers at Bruegger’s and realized I have the bagel all wrong.
I saw bagels go from dough to hot and delicious in my mouth within the space of a few minutes. It was really something to see (and taste).
I guess in our day of mass-produced everything I never thought about bagels being made on site. But that’s what Bruegger’s does. And next time I go, I think I’m going to hang around for a while until I can snag one that’s hot out of the oven.
I’d never eaten a hot bagel before. It was a gamechanger. Crunchy and soft and just heaven in my mouth.
Although I have to admit, my very favorite thing about Bruegger’s?
What can I say? I love cream cheese?
I almost always order the Garden Veggie because I like the big chunks of veg in it. (I learned they direct-set their cream cheese which is why the veggies aren’t all mushy and flavorless.) But this time, with my hot and tasty bagel I tried pretty much every cream cheese there was to offer.
The winners? It was a tie. I LOVED the plain cream cheese. Crazy, right? But it was just so decadent. Like butter, except I could eat it straight. I had to pull myself away from the plain to try the other flavors.
My other winner: the Maple. Holy cow, you guys. This Maple Syrup Cream Cheese on a Cinnamon Raisin bagel would rival many brunches I’ve eaten in terms of deliciousness.
My favorite thing about all of this was just taking the time to stop and savor and enjoy the ingredients. We tend to eat so fast, and we often expect so little from our food, right? I need to raise my standards more often. And I don’t know if I can go back to grocery-store bagels.
All the Bruegger’s locations boil and bake their own bagels on site. Our bagel cook, John, was pretty awesome. Especially since he was doing his job while the Bruegger’s Executive Chef was right there. And all their cream cheese comes from the same place in Vermont they’ve been using since they started. While I love their bagel sandwiches, I think I’m going to step back and just have my bagels with cream cheese for a while. Keep it simple and enjoy the flavors.
But if you like to go big, Bruegger’s has recipes for their bagels for everything from breakfast food to holiday stuffing, including this Smoked Salmon and Dill Strata we got to try.
Stratas are awesome for brunch. You can use your bagels that are just a bit past perfect freshness if you didn’t get to eat them all. Plus you can make them the night before and then pop in the oven. Ideal.
(And while I’m talking it up about keeping it simple, I admit I am pretty psyched to make the Cinnamon Raisin Bagel French Toast Casserole they have posted.)
Anyway: I get it now. I get the bagel thing. I understand why people are so passionate about them being just right.
I am realizing I made a mistake writing this post without having a bagel with cream cheese to munch on. I don’t have any bagels in the house so I think I’m going to go dip my finger in some cream cheese…
Thanks to Bruegger’s for hosting a lovely event with lots of bagels to taste. I was not compensated for the event or for this post except in the form of delicious bagels.