Not all appointments are planned in advance. This is the second in a series of posts about appointments that made a surprise splash in my schedule.
The text message buzzes in at 10:30 am on Sunday as I sit in bed with a splayed cookbook plotting the morning’s meal.
“Want to test a bagel?” writes my friend Marc.
“Yes! Where are they?” I reply, my heart racing. “Can I bring a couple home for b-fast?”
“2 now,” I get as a response.
“Where?” I type anxiously.
“Bob’s,” he writes back.
I know the place: “Be there in ten!”
I brush my teeth, throw on a jacket and some gloss (you never who might run into in my hood) and run around the corner to pick up the special package at Bob’s Juice Bar, a neighborhood hot spot owned by my good mate and fellow New Yorker, Marc Grossman.
For the past few months Marc has been testing bagel recipes for his third cookbook, a highly-anticipated (by me, at least) tome devoted to the rare art of homemade bagels.
This is a big deal, especially in Paris, where mislabeled rolls with holes are overpriced luxury items that don’t hold a crumb to the golden deliciousness at my bagel alma mater, Bake City Bagels on Avenue X in Gravesend, Brooklyn.
Both fiercely opinionated about our bagels, Marc and I have shared many conversations about this project and the principal cornerstones to a great bagel: a slight toothiness to the bite, nice luster, moist, chewy dough that’s dense and springy at the same time.
My first appointment with one of his bagels: this is major for us both!
I whiz by Bambi, one of Marc’s employees, on the way down the block who says, “he’s got two waiting for you, hurry.” I quicken my pace thinking “how amazing is this, my first Sunday bagel in Paris, could this actually become a ritual?”
I enter the doors of the juice bar. Marc hands over the brown paper bag with the goods and says that he’s eaten six bagels in the batch and is confidant enough to let me try.
On my way home I pick up the fixings to complete the taste test: skinless, boneless sardines in olive oil, cream cheese (in this case, fromage à tartiner by Leader Price which I’ve been replacing the nearly-impossible-to-find Philadelphia cream cheese with for years) and a nice plump shallot (in lieu of red onion).
The recipe—cut bagel in half, smear with a cream cheese, then top with smashed up sardines and thin onion slices—was invented by my grandmother, Zelda. I had it ever Sunday morning at my grand parents’ house growing up. Entrenched in our family’s culinary DNA, it is, in my opinion, the absolute benchmark for bagel appreciation if not a stinky one at that. (Marc agrees so much that he’s included the recipe in his book).
Results: Definitely the best bagel in Paris! The golden crust was bubbly and slightly sticky (as it should be), had good tooth feel, but was giving on the bite. The dough was dense and bouncy with a mild yeastiness, but the shape was on the smallish side. Given the fact this is Paris, and everything here is petit in comparison to NY standards, I can definitely live with the resizing as long as Marc promises to keep the supply coming.
Bob’s Juice Bar: 15 rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010 Paris
Bob’s Kitchen: 74 rue Gravilliers, 75003 Paris
Update: The book is out, with my bagel—Le Zelda—featured on the cover. Order your copy online here, or better, yet, stop by the Juice Bar or Kitchen to pick one up.