Last Saturday, Robert and I hiked through the fog and snow up to Silver Peak in the Snoqualmie Pass area. I brought along a pretty standard hiking lunch: bagel sandwiches. Because they are sturdy and densely packed with calories, bagels are great for hiking or backpacking. Other than that, though, I rarely eat them. I think I just wasn’t born with a bagel mindset or something. Whenever I buy bagels, I feel like some sort of bagel poser. There are bagel enthusiasts out there that have extremely strong opinions about their bagels, and I’m sure I have probably made the mistake more than once of buying bagels that they would deem totally worthless. In fact, aren’t any bagels outside of New York City supposed to be worthless? Certainly nobody on the west coast knows how to make a proper bagel, right? New York has that special water or something that makes their bagels superior.

When I was a little kid, we used to get bagels from a place called Bagel Boys of New York (long since closed.) Although it has New York in the name, this was a west coast joint. I remember their bagels being really good. I loved helping my mom choose which flavors to include in her baker’s dozen. My favorite was the salt bagel (not too surprising considering that I was also the child who was jealous of my rabbit for having its own salt lick – fortunately, my salt addiction has faded as an adult, although I’ll still take savory over sweet any day of the week.) Sometime in the late 1980′s / early 1990′s, bagels became really popular, and bagel shops started popping up everywhere. The only problem was that these bagels were doughy and soft, and they came in novelty flavors like blueberry and chocolate. I’m no bagel expert but I do know that a good bagel is supposed to be dense and chewy with a browned, slightly crisp exterior. Not soft like a dinner roll! And, I’m sorry, but chocolate is not an acceptable flavor for a bagel.

These days, when I need a bagel, I head up to Bagel Deli on 15th Ave. It is only a few blocks from my apartment, and their bagels are actually pretty good. I think so anyway; I’m sure for the bagel freaks out there, they are just as controversial as any other west coast bagel. They are very dense and have a nice, shiny outer shell. I like pumpernickel the best followed by sesame, everything, and my nostalgic favorite, salt. I topped Saturday’s bagel sandwiches with lettuce and a salmon, shallot and caper salad. They were yummy, if a bit dry (they were, after all, a day old by the time we went hiking.) As an added bonus, I’m fairly certain the act of chewing though these super-dense bagels helped keep us warm on top of the snowy mountain. Do you have a favorite bagel spot in town?

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