January 26th, 2009

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

by Stephanie Segal • in Food & Drink

Some ground rules to help keep things straight when it comes to bagels, before focusing on our feature. These indisputable facts are my pleasure to share with you, so don’t bother writing comments thanking me or, perish the thought, disagreeing. I’ve already stated for the record that they are indisputable facts. Ha!

1. Bagels may be eaten toasted or untoasted. *If fresh from the bakery toasting is a travesty.

2. What one puts on their bagel depends entirely on statement 1. It frightens me to think someone out there is actually putting cream cheese on a toasted bagel. Or peanut butter! What slimy disgrace. People, what works on room temperature bagel is not what works on warm/hot crispy bagel. The exception to this rule is hummus. Since it has no melting properties, it works equally well on either option. Oh, and cold bagels are out. If they are your preference, please, take your eyes from my words and place them elsewhere. You and I have no business.

3. If bagel is being used to form bagel sandwich, consider statement 2 null and void. Anything more than a single spread or a single spread plus jam on a bagel would have to be considered a bagel sandwich. For example, it would be ok to have cream cheese on a toasted bagel, so long as cold friends like lox, onion and/or tomato accompany it. These will delight equally on untoasted bagel. Refrain from referring to any such entity as a ‘bagelwich’ to save yourself (and the innocent bagel) more than a little embarrassment. Since we are dealing in facts it bears mentioning the ultimate bagel sandwich: cheese, bacon, lettuce and tomato. You can add your mayo or your butter, or even an egg of some stature, or none of the above, toasted or not as per statement 3, and be in bagel heaven. (Bagel Heaven, by the way, is an excellent bagel shop in the Pocono area of Pennsylvania. Get an ‘Egg Everything’ bagel with smoked salmon cream cheese and if you don’t like it I’ll refund you.) Runner up bagel sandwich naturally would have to be egg salad. The end.

4. A sweet bagel, though still a bagel, is not to be treated as just a regular bagel. As in, under no circumstances is a sweet bagel to be used for a bagel sandwich. It is acceptable whenever one might want a bagel, or even as a strange carb-loaded dessert of sorts. I’m talking your blueberry bagel, or your strawberry bagel…even your chocolate chip bagel (Montrealers take note: though I endorse fully St Viateur Bagel shop as the primo source for bagels, it is Fairmount that has a large range of ‘flavors’ including said chocolate chip , as well as the cute mini-bagel, available by special order and fun for brunch) and of course the king of all sweet bagels, the original: the cinnamon raisin. As per statement 4, a sweet bagel is to be eaten toasted with butter or margarine, or untoasted with cream cheese. There are no other choices here, sadly, so don’t go thinking peanut butter. It would be wrong.

Which brings us to the star of our show, the cinnamon raisin bagel. So often overlooked in a world of sesames and poppies, it sits neglected on shelves everywhere. We treat them as a fond memory and leave them there cold, opting for the more mundane classics, saying ‘maybe next time’. Before we know it, years have gone past with nothing but white bagel dough on our tongues. How easily we forget the simple glory of the mingling of warm cinnamon and melting butter combined with the satisfying chewiness of fresh toasted bagel and raisins. Magic on a cold winter’s day, when the cinnamon kick gently delivers warmth and coziness to the formerly empty pit of your stomach. It’s like holding a veritable fireplace of tastiness in the palm of your hands. And with more fiber than its counterparts to boot. Yay, health!

Fine, some of you may prefer it untoasted with butter or margarine. I’ll give it to you (and contradict statement 2) but there is much less poetry there. I would say you are lacking inspiration but why get personal over a bagel.

There is one other thing, and I share this with a modicum of hesitation. Breathe in, reader, and open your mind. We have all already agreed that a sweet bagel is to be topped with only butter or margarine when hot, or cream cheese when cold (see statement 4). Well, when it comes to the complex cinnamon raisin, these rules go out the bagel hole (screw statement 4). Cream cheese is simply unacceptable here. Yes, it exists, a bagel that must go WITHOUT cream cheese. Now prepare to have your mind blown. It is the Kraft processed cheese slice that must go on the cinnamon raisin bagel. Hey, I see you cringing with horror. Stay with me. You will have to trust me on this. I discovered it when I was about six months pregnant and more flexible about food choices. I needed a change and took a chance. To my delight it was beyond delightful! It became my dirty little secret…the disgusting addition of Kraft cheese to sweet cinnamon and raisins? And yet, it was so wonderful, it was quickly an addiction. Toasted, untoasted; it didn’t matter. Just so long as it was there.

It would have remained my dirty little secret too, if I hadn’t come downstairs one morning to prepare a cinn-ray bagel for my husband, who came over to me and said ‘Not cream cheese on that . The slices are better on those.’ Somehow I avoided whiplash as I turned my head to see if he was mocking me. He wasn’t! Imagine my surprise, nay…my glee! My strange food combinations usually repulse him, be it ketchup in tuna salad, or eggplant on pizza. Yet here he was craving the very same as me. Have I ever loved him more? I won’t say.

But it means I can say this: you gotta try it. It’s so great together; even our opposite-sides-of-the-spectrum menu choices converge here in a one time only affair. Don’t judge our taste buds until you give it a go. So go! Pull a bag of yummy off the shelves and get your toaster ready. Don’t worry; the sesames and poppies will be there next time. But you know what they say: once you go cinn-ray, you won’t want to stray.

The last word: my one-year-old would rate cinnamon raisin bagels a cool 150%, and he is eating them straight from the bag. Doesn’t matter how whiny, cranky, or clingy he starts out…give him a chunk of bagel (he has now graduated to entire halves) and he goes all zen, finds a spot, and I don’t see him again until it is gone. If that’s not endorsement enough for parents I don’t know what is.

Comments(5)

Warren Wilansky said:


“If fresh from the bakery toasting is a travesty.”

Amen. I chose where I live specifically so that I never have to ever have anything but a warm, fresh bagel. No toasting ever again!

January 26th, 2009 at 7:18 pm

rivka said:


funny. let me tell you though, living out in california, i will take a bagel from montreal any way i can get it, frozen, not frozen, toasted if cold and slightly stale….and it all tastes just Fabulous.

January 26th, 2009 at 7:51 pm

stephanie segal said:


warren: location location location. well done.

rivka: a cali bagel story totally unrelated to your comment: i lived in california for one year (san francisco). i spent an entire day once seeking out a cheese bagel. you know, shaped like a U, sometimes topped with sugar but preferably not? i went to every jewish bakery in the bay area it felt like, and every time i was offered either a bagel with cheese or a cheese danish. they were completely without a clue. my heart goes out to you. montreal is an absolute haven for comfort jewish foods and california…well, i bet they are big on flavored ’shmears’ at ‘bagel cafes’…. like toronto. *shudder*.

January 27th, 2009 at 7:59 am

HabsFan29 said:


sometimes topped with sugar but preferably not

FOR SHAME. those little cubes of sugar on top of a cheese bagel are heavenly

this whole Kraft cheese thing is freaking me out man

January 27th, 2009 at 8:52 am

stephanie segal said:


meh they get in the way. its ok when the ones without are sold out and when they are sugary dust. but those little cubes, though pretty, are like little pebbles in my mouth, really messing with (but not ruining) the overall texture and flavor of the glorious cheese bagel au naturel.

so stuff it.

January 27th, 2009 at 10:20 am

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