Bagels (and various schmears) always deserve a place on the Yom Kippur break-the-fast spread. Carb-filled comfort food is exactly what we crave after a full day of fasting to observe the Jewish day of atonement. Plus, 2015 has been deemed the “Year of the Bagel” — there are more places than ever to get an excellent one, even outside of the great bagel capital of New York City. In my house, everything bagels are always the first to go. If you want to get creative and plan ahead before the fast, here are three everything-bagel-and-cream-cheese riffs that will surely impress your hungry guests.
According to the Chinese zodiac, 2015 is the year of the sheep. But the trend trackers at New York magazine have declared it to be the year of the bagel — at least in the city that never sleeps, yet nevertheless loves nothing more than waking up to a nice brunch.
In its Fall Preview issue, NYC’s namesake mag heralds the “rebirth of Jewish appetizing” and a “brewing bagel war” — a “schmear campaign,” its headline writers cleverly dub it — pointing to the opening, this autumn, of several new bagel eateries and a few “microfactories” determined to bring satisfaction to anyone with a hankering for a bagel, cream cheese, lox and all the fixins.
Bagels are hot. No, really. And though babka and matzo ball soup and brisket don’t conjure haute cuisine, they’re hot too. It’s true: Jewish-American foods that highlight tradition (and remix it) — are pushing Dominique Ansel’s latest trendy treats to the side. (So says BusinessWeek.com.)
In April, Black Seed opened in New York’s East Village, and the lines of fans awaiting everything-poppy-sesame-topped cream-cheese-schmeared Montreal-style bagels stretched to rave reviews. But the growing love of Jewish food doesn’t end with breakfast. In yesterday’s New York Times, Julia Moskin detailed the renewal of excitement around innovative Jewish fare, citing the famous Russ & Daughters Cafe, which serves smoked fish and herring but also, she notes, updates like whitefish chowder and halvah ice cream with salted caramel. Julia described hot spots in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle where familiar Jewish-American foods and newfangled ones are enjoying a hip-factor heyday, respecting traditions but also building upon them.
“We are always conscious that we are taking care of a piece of history,” Niki Russ Federman of Russ & Daughters told Julia. “But we can’t run only on nostalgia.” Katherine Alford, senior vice president, culinary, here at Food Network, agrees: “That is how we run here too. We love these rich and cherished traditional foods, and it’s so exciting that they are getting their well-deserved moment.” But, she says, it’s more than a passing fad. “When something is really good, it never goes out of style. Who doesn’t want babka now and always?” You don’t have to head to an old-school new-school chic restaurant to get babka. The next trend might just be staying home and making your own Jewish-American foods for family and friends — no lines!