It's all in the water – or so they say. Continuing on our quest to find real, authentic New York style bagels in San Francisco, we ventured with our ex-New Yorker friends to the Inner Richmond to give their recommended spot called House of Bagels a shot. Despite the place's personal recommendation, I still approached the trip cautiously due to BuzzFeed's SF bagel blog tongue lashing.
Like I've said before, one of the dishes I find myself missing the most living out in San Francisco is the simple New York staple of a bagel with lox. I haven't quite found myself a viable replacement yet, so when I find myself back in New York I know 100% of the time I'm going to venture out to get my fix. In the time since I've left the city, there seems to have been a resurgence and revitalization of Jewish comfort food in NYC with placed like Baz Bagels and Black Seed popping up and Russ & Daughters expanding into a full sit-down cafe. After reading much about the now famed Montreal-style bagels being baked at Nolita's Black Seed Bagels, I knew I had to give them a shot. The write-ups often fall at polarized ends of the spectrum with those in the negative camp often harping on the lines, cost, portion, and quality so I was excited to check them out for myself to make my own judgements. Instead of wandering down to Nolita where Black Seed's main shop lives, I decided to head to Chef Noah Bernamoff's closer-to-home Canadian sister restaurant Mile End in NoHo – where I had heard Black Seed bagels were also being served.
A few years back, I was living in the East Village and Alphabet City area and was truly disappointed and amazed to find that that section of the city was utterly and hopelessly bagel-less. What a travesty! I was forced to trek the ten blocks north all the way up to Gramercy to get a decent bagel. Obviously that doesn't sound like a hell of a lot of distance these days compared to my current bagel trekking situation on the West Coast, but back then that seemed like an extraordinary hike for a simple bagel in New York.
Who would be surprised to hear that this New York Jew loves bagels and lox? No one? OK. There are plenty of foods that I can now have in San Francisco that I could never get my hands on before in NY. And in fact there are many food that I could get in NY that are done so much better in SF. But, there are still a few dishes that I find myself truly homesick for that I can't seem to replace. Topping that list – a quality bagel with cream cheese and lox. By reputation, I didn't expect much from San Francisco bagel shops. In fact, I figured they'd be pretty abysmal based on the things I had read online. But, one day I woke up particularly hungover with an uncontrollable urge to crush a bagel with lox. On this day, nothing was going to stop me from embarking on this quest despite the fact that I knew it would likely disappoint me. So I headed six blocks north on Polk St. to my best nearby bet – a place called The Bagelry.
So, it's November and it's getting colder which normally means it's time to start thinking about Thanksgiving, but this year it also signals the time to start thing about Hanukkah since they fall on the same day. It's a rare occurrence that only happens once every 95 years giving many people the chance to plan a strange meal they're calling Thanksgivukkah blending the culinary traditions of the two. Well, today I'm going to ignore Thanksgiving all together because I'd like to talk about some of my favorite Jewish comfort foods and where I go to eat them in NYC.