Thursday, September 10, 2009

The bagel that ate North Jersey

I had an errand in Clifton on Wednesday and needed change for a $20 bill. I drove up and down Van Houten Avenue, in what I believe was the Athenia section, looking for a Polish bakery I last patronized seven or so years ago. It was closed and so were two other small bakeries nearby.

Finally, I stumbled on Hot Bagels Abroad in a strip mall on Clifton Avenue ( What does that name mean? Baffling. It was around noon and the place was jumping, so I got on line and eventually ordered a baker's dozen ($9.25). Bagels are 80 cents each, and they're so big, my order was packed in a large paper grocery sack.

I used to toast a bagel every morning for my open-face sandwiches of smoked salmon, canned red salmon and so forth, but it was just too much dough (my spreads were homemade, low-fat yogurt cheese or pesto). I switched to smaller, sliced whole-grain bread several years ago. I liked the bagels from Ronnie's in Hillsdale or the bagel places in Englewood, Leonia and Fort Lee. I especially liked the pumpernickle-rye bagel.

Years ago, I saw a coupon for H&H Bagels in Manhattan and stopped for a dozen at the plant on the West Side. They have the nerve to charge a dollar or more for a puny bagel that didn't taste any better than the ones in North Jersey. What a waste of time.

I bought the Clifton bagels to offer to out-of-town guests. But I tried to toast one and had to cram it into my so-called wide-mouth toaster, which soon burnt the garlic bits on the bagel's exterior.

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