Thursday, February 25, 2010

Got Breakfast?

The bagel. It's sort of like the Switzerland of foods. I've never heard anyone say that they have a strong dislike for bagels. They are vegan, and if you are one of those gluten-free types, I'm pretty sure you can get them in that fashion. They even have low-carb, for the Atkins set. They come with all sorts of toppings, and you can put anything on them.

There is, however, one problem that the bagel faces in New Paltz. No one can seem to get it right! I have been to pretty much every place in this town that makes bagels (key word makes, not sells, as those who sell bagels can get them shipped in from anywhere), and have yet to find one that strikes me as out-of-this-world-delicious. It really is disappointing.

What makes a good bagel? I hear that the higher gluten content, the better. Not such great news for those with an allergy (or those who are so trendy, that they have developed a gluten allergy....). I also hear that it's all about the water. The reason why New York has the best pizza and bagels is due to our water supply. In fact, I hear that places in the midwest have New York water shipped to them in the hopes of making their pizzas and bagels less lousy.

My good friend Layla is pretty much the authority on good bagels. Her favorite place is Goldberg's in Southampton (my hometown, ironically). I think that she is absolutely right. Too bad Goldberg's isn't a chain and can't set up shop in New Paltz! Layla likes Lox and Cream Cheese on her bagels, and says that "New Paltz Bagels suck hardcore. The place by the movies (Hot Bagels) used to put salt on their everything bagels, and now they don't. It's all about the salt". She went on to say that "All the bagel places in New Paltz suck hardcore, I can
t pick a favorite, I'd rather buy a bagel from the supermarket". I agree, Layla!!!!

A good bagel (in this blogger's opinion) is sort of hard and crusty (but not stale-like) on the outside, and warm, bready, soft, and perfectly doughy on the inside. I am going to base this entry around my (and Layla's) opinion of a good bagel.

New Paltz Bagel Cafe (Hot Bagels)-As Layla said, they used to put salt on their everything bagels, and they no longer do. Also, they microwave their egg sandwiches. Gross! The bagels in this place taste like those large pretzels you get at the Fair or in the city, only with poppyseeds on them. They continuously win Hudson Valley Magazine's award for the best bagel in the Hudson Valley, and I can't figure out why for the life of me. People who like this place have clearly never been to Brooklyn!!! New Paltz Bagel Cafe- Always a disappointment. One final point-My brother Jimmy was always irritated that we would order "Flagels", and they would have no idea what we were talking about.

Dunkin Donuts- You would think that you would get some relief from the terrible New Paltz bagel scene in this chain that America apparently runs on. These bagels are always hard all around, and are way too large. But really, what do you expect from corporate America? These bagels obviously lack the key ingredient of love.

Stop N Shop-Actually, these are not so bad. Layla and I like these. Mike, my boyfriend, likes them too. When asked if he liked his everything bagel from Stop N Shop, he said, "Yeah! It was good". They are REALLY good toasted, and are pretty cheap. I'm pretty sure they make them on-site at the New Paltz Stop N Shop, and unlike the Dunkin Donuts bagels, you can taste the love. In fact, my friend Tommy's sister WORKS at the bakery there, and I *know* she puts love in those bagels. They are not exceptional, and cannot hold a candle to a good NYC bagel. At least they stave off the cravings until I can get Mike to bring me a good bagel from the city, or until Ariana's parents visit with the gift of Brooklyn bagels.

The Bakery-These are my favorite bagels in New Paltz, hands down. Many say that they are too doughy, but I like them. I know that my friend Sam likes them too, as I run into her there frequently in the morning. They are doughy on the inside, and have a nice bagel-shell to them. I get them NOT toasted, with cream cheese, with an orange juice. Really, I have no complaints. Ariana, who is also a person I would consider a bagel authority, prefers their Bialy's. However, many people are not satisfied.

SUNY Campus-Sodexo. Need I say more? They will do, but you can't even toast them without waiting on a long line. You pay far too much, and far too much extra for cream cheese. Then, the cream cheese is either warm or watery. It's like eating a hockey puck. Ew.

There are plenty of other places in NPZ to pick bagels up, but none of these places actually make them on premises (to my knowledge), so I don't think they count. Robin says that she won't let mediocrity hinder her enjoyment of carbohydrates, which I admire and agree with. In conclusion, I really, really, really hope that for mine and Layla's sakes, that New Paltz steps it's bagel game up. Because really, I can't keep taking friends who visit from home to Bistro for breakfast.


Maria said...

UGHHHH apparently Layla brought in bagels to work and I missed it because of my stupid sinus infection! So not fair. Maybe the good people at our job can guess where the bagels are from using my blog entry.

Martin McPhillips said...

Now I regret having used my quarterly internet allowance of one (1) "oy vey!" on Greenfield.

"Egads" doesn't quite capture it. I'll have to settle for...


msinno said...

Heavens forbid something light hearted is posted! I guess there is no room for humor or smiling in the cut throat world of the gadfly.

Martin McPhillips said...

" the cut throat world of gadfly."

Now that's funny.

Did Gadzooks! suggest the swipe of a cutlass?

Brittany Turner said...

Gadfly looks more and more like the Oracle every day. Ach, himmel!

LMAO, Martin!

msinno said...

"Now that's funny."

Thanks, it was meant to be.

msinno said...

Now, onto the subject matter of Maria's post.

Have they identified a specific attribute in NYC water that supposedly makes it better than water in Madison , Wisconsin?

Maria said...

Well, the good news is although most people are too nervous to comment on my blog posts because they are afraid of having their asses handed to them for no apparent reason, they will give me their positive comments about my bagel post via Facebook!!!

It's about bagels people. Seriously. Bagels.

Martin McPhillips said...

It was about bagels? Damn, I missed that part.

I thought it was about meth-amphetamine.

Melissa said...

NYC water comes straight from the Catskills and isn't subjected to a water treatment plant. Upstate and the rest of the country treat their water with various chemicals to make it safe for drinking. NYC water is very different than Madison Wisconsin. Great post Maria! I think I'm going to go get a bagel right now!

Martin McPhillips said...

New Paltz water, in the village water system, is New York City water. By arrangement with NYC, we get it from the Ashokan reservoir aqueduct.

Water in the town outside the village is generally from wells.

Brittany Turner said...

NYC's magical bagel water is an urban legend, much to the chagrin of many entrepreneurs who have shipped NY water elsewhere in their bagel and pizza making endeavors.

Martin McPhillips said...

With help from the modern inkjet printer, I'll just cover the "NYC" label on those bottles I've been filling all day with a "Lourdes" label, and raise the price.

"You say you're looking for bagel water straight from heaven?"

I'm still trying to find a use for all those "New Paltz Institute for Advanced Study" labels I made when my buddy Steve Poskanzer wanted to re-brand the college.

By the way, I offer a complete re-branding package for $499.00 (only $13.99 a month!), and have several ready-to-go packages for the New Paltz Times.

Anonymous said...

1) Not to hand anyone their ass, but: not all bagels are vegan! A very small amount are egg bagels, cheese bagels, or have a stupid egg wash.

2) It's humiliating to my snobby tastes, but I actually like the Stop & Shop bagels--I bought 2 everythings tonight!

3) EVERYTHING FROM THE BAKERY IS SHEER SHITE. When will the rest of the town realize this, I wonder? I'm still haunted--HAUNTED--by the time I bought "sourdough" "bread" there. Neither word lived up to its proper dictionary definition. Haunted, I tell you.

And they don't even have WiFi!

And the soy chais are like $5!!!!


5) The bagel/lack of bialy issue is yet another endlessly perplexing thing to me about upstate, being as I am a rather recent transplant (well, 5.5 years, which as everyone will tell you, every second they can, is nothing): NYC is swarming with decent EVERYTHING. NP has decent NOTHING. Why couldn't just one artisan baker open up a teeny little shop? Rents are (just barely) cheaper than NYC, and me and allllll my friends would swarm there--I bake my own bread, but I'd go anyway, and happily pay $5 for a beautiful boule, just to support. Kat at the Cheese Plate has the only decent bread in town, and it's from the city.

Grumpy, yes I am. It's the lack of quality carbs.

Robin said...

*shrug* To each her own.

Maria said...

Lagusta- I have never had a bialy!!! I do enjoy their bagels, but I do agree that the bakery really isn't so great. The second floor is much too uncomfortable and noisy for dining, first off, and the food....

I do like their bagels, but everything in their refrigerator case tastes like....well, it's been in the fridge uncovered for too long! The items lose their flavor and sometimes get dried up and weird. And their cookies are usually stale-ish and not so great. It seems like bagels are the only thing they make fresh daily. And there is never, ever, EVER *ANY* excuse for microwaved egg sandwiches. EVER!

I agree.... I would love to see a little artisan baker. We almost had that with the Tea Room. Agnes has a pastry chef (who uses Agnes's recipes) but she would probably NEVER make a bagel and I don't think she does bread. I used to go to her for my baked desserts because they are, seriously, the best in town....but unfortunately I am on my own personal small boycott of the Tea Room....and that's for a whole 'nother blog post!!!!

Maria said...

Oh, and PS: And what is with nobody knowing what a FLAGEL is!??!? really, sound it out. FLAT. BAGEL.

Anonymous said...

With respect, Robin, and not to get too annoying on a light-hearted post, the "to each her own" perspective when it comes to food is what's gotten us into this terrible bagel situation in the first place. There are standards, and they are not being met. It's of course your (the royal "your," of course, not your particular) prerogative if you want to eat crappy bagels forever, just like if, I suppose, a town can support 50 pizzerias, each turning out horrible American-style crap pizza, a town should be allowed to do so, it doesn't mean that those in the town with the knowledge of what pizza should and could be (and elsewhere is) should have to ever close their mouths about the horror-show terror of crap served in said town.

Second Wind CSA said...

The Rock and Roll Bakery which sells at some of the local farmers markets makes a good bialy.

We always import our bagels from South Orange New Jersey, a place called Sonny's. This is the place we always got bagels growing up. Best I've ever had. My Grandarents used to fly them out to WA State they were so good. They are Vegan, plus, they freeze the day olds and sell them CHEAP!

Check them out next time you are in South Orange!

Robin said...

Well, Lagusta, if there's that much to complain about, ever consider the possibility that maybe it's you who has the problem?

The local bagels are not, certainly, the same as New York City bagels. They are upstate bagels. That's a different animal. Once you come to grips with that, they're more palatable.

Also, I think the flavor of NYC bagels might have something to do with the smog that gets in your airways when eating (or doing anything) in NYC. That's got to have some impact on tastebuds. Considering that, I'll take upstate fare any day.

Anonymous said...

I guess the difference is that I don't see it as complaining. :)

Robin said...

That's interesting. I find it hard to read "crappy" and "horrible" as anything other than a complaint. I'm not trying to be difficult here; I just want to understand the communication breakdown. What is it if not complaining?

Anonymous said...

It's a Jewy way of hoping for improvement by telling it like it is!

Martin McPhillips said...

The food/restaurant situation in New Paltz is fairly dismal. I don't know whether that means I agree with Lagusta, because I don't know what she has tasted from the non-vegan world.

I haven't been there enough times to say "you won't be disappointed," but I think that 36 Main is trying hard. That's where I would take someone who was in for a weekend.

Many people recommended the old Main Course to me, and I tried it and liked it a couple of times, but I don't know whether they are doing sit-down meals at the new location.

Good old P&Gs, where I haven't been for a long time, used to have a Culinary Institute-trained chef who handled the daily specials. Those were often pretty good and I think that's why a lot of people eat there. Those specials usually sell out. I would often go in late for lunch and get the last one available.

Gadaleto's has honorable food and prices.

I've had good meals at Beso, but stopped going there. I think I thought it was too expensive and I'm not good in such tight spaces.

I've never been to the Tea Room.

After that it gets pretty ugly.

As for the pizza, well, even in NYC you have to know where to go and the good places are few and far between (There's a famous place called "John's" in the West Village that is always packed). Unless you are specifically going out for pizza and willing to travel into far neighborhoods, you pretty much settle for what's around.

In New Paltz, I order pizza from Rino's in Cherry Hill Plaza. It's wolfable.

There's one restaurant in town where I feel like I'm taking my life in my hands if I eat there and another where the food is so bad that they seem to be daring you to eat it. I had a hamburger once in the latter place that wasn't so much cooked as it was vulcanized. I couldn't eat it, and that's unusual for me. I refused to complain, however, and just said that I wasn't that hungry.

But this isn't just New Paltz. Lot's of places in the City where you could once get a decent meal have deteriorated. Although, to be honest, if you don't know of more than a few places in NYC that are dependable to excellent you're not paying attention. (I really like the Blue Water Grill on Union Square West. Love the food and the staff always treats you very well. Expensive.)

To write reviews of restaurants in New Paltz you would have to be a sadist.