WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH MONTREAL-STYLE BAGELS (AND WHERE TO GET THE BEST IN TOWN)
The carb phobia is real, you guys! From demonizing anything that dares to contain refined flour to snubbing all things bread and pasta, the latest low-carb craze has taken everyone by storm. However, when you are a passionate diver, carbs play a huge role in your day-to-day life, mainly by helping you keep up with the non-stop energy needs.
Of course, quinoa and sweet potatoes are not your only options, especially if you are exploring the diving wonders of Canada. So, cue the baked goodies! Montreal-style bagels are by far the easiest way to get enough of the nutrient without skimping on flavor one bit. If you think your taste buds would appreciate the treat, here’s everything you need to know about this iconic baked snack, including where to score some of the best in town.
What’s A Montreal-Style Bagel?
Often regarded as a smaller, tastier version of the NY-style bagel, the Montreal bagel is not your average street food handheld. Poached in honey-infused water and then baked in a wood-burning oven, the world-famous snack has a slightly sweeter, denser and chewier texture than the regular NY version, making each bite all the more memorable.
Montreal bagels are also smaller in size and sport a slightly bigger hole in the center than most variations which is one of the ways to distinguish them from the rest. The baked snacks are also coated with either poppy or sesame seeds, an addition that makes their flavor a tad different and -dare we say?- slightly gourmet.
For the uninitiated, the crunchy ingredient feels a little awkward to chew at first, but after a couple of bites, many claim that they can’t easily go back to the regular version.
The Origins of the Montreal Bagel
But, how did Montrealers come up with this unique version of the snack? Back in the 1900s, when Jewish immigrants from Poland and Eastern Europe made Canada their new home, the country was pleasantly overwhelmed with a variety of new flavors and culinary traditions. One of the few that stood out was the bagel.
According to Joe King, a historian who delved into the history of Montreal, Chaim Seligman was supposedly the first man to introduce the bagel to locals. He started out by baking and distributing bagels as a member of the Lachine neighborhood, but as more and more people got acquainted with the treat, he moved his bakery on St. Laurent Boulevard which is one of Montreal’s main arteries. At the time, he also spread the word on his baked delicacies by patrolling the Jewish neighborhoods with a pushcart full of bagels.
Later on, he went into business with a couple of fellow bakers, Jack Schlafman and Myer Lewkowicz. Even though things didn’t work out between the three of them at the time, Schlafman was quick to react and opened his own bagel shop in 1919. The establishment is known as the Fairmount Bagel and is still active to date. Seligman and Lewkowicz partnered up a few decades later (during the 1950s) and founded St. Viateur Bagel Shop which is in business to this day.
Montreal Bagel VS New York Bagel: Which One is Better?
While both versions started out the same (meaning, they were rolled by hand and baked in wood-fueled ovens), many New York bakers soon embraced the conformities of technology and switched to electric or gas stoves instead. By doing so, the texture of the bagels changed significantly, creating a less crunchy and chewy exterior.
But, flavor is not the only difference between the two versions. NY-style bagels are a tad saltier than their Canadian “cousins” as they are not boiled in honey water before baking. That said, the two variations are significantly different, allowing you to satisfy different types of cravings (salty vs. sweet). Also, note that Montreal bagels have a larger hole in the middle which leaves less room for toppings. That only matters, of course, if you are a fan of fully-loaded bagels.
Considering all of the above, there’s no need to compare the two versions as each one brings something different to the table, both flavor- and texture-wise. So, choosing between the two is a matter of personal preference and taste.
Where to Get the Best Montreal Bagels in Town
Being the two oldest joints to sell the snack in Montreal, Fairmount Bagel and St. Viateur Bagel Shop are where you need to go to score some of the tastiest bagels in town. Both establishments are located in the Mile End, a neighborhood that is known for its artistic and creative streak, and are open 24/7.
Thanks to their decade-long experience in the field, the two bagel shops have perfected their baking techniques and guarantee a wow-worthy experience from that very first bite. So, if you are ready for a flavorful adventure in between your Canadian diving adventures, these two shops will not fail to please.
So, are you a fan of the Canadian treat? If so, feel free to share your foodie experience in the comment section down below or tag us in some of Montreal bagel-loving photos @internationaldiver