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Hot Challah, Zucker's Bakery & Why Boston Doesn't Have Montreal Bagels...

  • t

Well, I got through to Zuckers Bakery in Peabody. I asked about Montreal bagels - he doesn't make them, & he told me why.

Thought I would share the info.

Mr. Zucker is from Montreal, (his father makes bagels there). He said can't make them here in Massachusetts because of two things:

1. The water - he said the water here is different, (I've heard the same said about N.Y. bagels)

but most of all because

2. The State of Massachusetts considers the brick ovens that are used in Montreal to be a fire hazard.

So now we know why no one carries Montreal bagels around here!

(He also said, regarding bringing bagels back from Montreal & then freezing - he thinks that the texture is just plain awful after they are frozen.)

But as far as the challah (and he mentioned cookies, too)...

He told me that he is open Tues., Wed., and Thurs. til AROUND 4:30 (call ahead). Sunday (& I think he said Mon., also) is a half day. He supplies Trader Joe's and Market Basket, & will make babkie (sp.? - my family says 'babka'), if you call a day or two ahead.

Many thanks to Sara for finding the telephone number!

Zucker's
4 Lake
Peabody, MA 01960
978-535-5335

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  1. Maybe Babkie is plural for Babka?

    10 Replies
    1. re: Prav

      Nope, just a different pronunciation. Maybe different cities, or parts of Russia/Ukraine.

      1. re: micah

        Thanks for the insight - my ancestry is Polish... well, sort of. The borders of Poland changed so much, btwn Poland, Russia & Lithuania, & the town my father's people came from, Suwalki, is on the northeast border of what is now Poland... my dad's birth certificate says "Russian" (had a good time of kidding my dad when we first saw his b-c). I haven't had any clear help defining my heritage when I've asked both Polish & Russian people around here, either. Russian people have said my name is Polish, and Polish have said it's Russian. Seems nobody wants us!

        Been studying the history to understand my own - very painful, at times.

        Sorry for digressing from the food topic. But culture & food do go hand in hand - it helps to know one's history, if it is all possible.

      2. re: Prav

        "Babkie" is not a plural; it is the way old-time Boston Jews (who eat "challie," not "challah") say the word that the rest of the rest of the world pronounces as "babka."

        It could be that way, way back this regional variant goes back to Russia/Ukraine; all I know is that this is what I grew up hearing in Boston.

        1. re: Pumpkinseed

          Ditto here. My dad (who grew up in Malden) did this, and even called matzo "mutzie."

          1. re: BobB

            I grew up in Newark (Weequahic - home of Watson's bagels - They'd shovel them hot from the ovens to the bins and we'd shovel them right into our mouths! ) and we said "chollie" too!
            My buddies are Yiddishists - I'll ask them and post in NFA board with a pointer!

            1. re: fredid

              As a Yiddishist, I'd say that the '-ie' added at the end of words that usually end in '-ah' is the Jewish-American equivalent of the Italian-American dropping '-ah', or any last vowel, from the end of words...ManniCOT. CapiCOL. RiCOT...I

            2. re: BobB

              I live in Malden now and the kids next door eat "fried Mutzie". They had to show me the box before I understood what they were talking about.

              1. re: PrincessBakesALot

                Nothing says Bahstin like mutzie and buddah!

        2. k
          Kip McSkipster

          Thanks for looking into the Montreal Bagels at Zucker's, threedogs. That's pretty crappy news re: the brick ovens (I don't buy the water thing).

          Off topic, but frozen Montreal bagels, while nowhere near as good as fresh ones, are still ok, in that the delicate flavor is still present (even if the texture is not so hot).

          5 Replies
          1. re: Kip McSkipster

            Isn't everything frozen in Canada? Sorry couldn't resist. Montreal bagels are excellent though. I live just a couple blocks from the Brookline line and there's such a Jewish population around here, you'd think there'd be better bagels. The best I've had are Rosenfelds in Newton Center. Kupel's on Harvard Ave. in Brookline seem to have gone downhill... they're definitely better than Finagle a Bagel or supermarket bagels but not the same as they once were I think.

            1. re: Mike

              The Boston area restaurants have improved so much through the years - except that the Jewish selections in restaurants, delis and bakeries has actually declined. I understand that we have lots of people from different parts of the world (hurray!), but there is still a large Jewish population around...

              Brookline used to have great places - and Revere, too. My mother used to take me to Shirley Ave for the best corned beef sandwiches... oh, I'm getting hungry just thinking of them. We lived in Malden most of my life - Malden had a large Jewish population - so we had a good deli & even the main grocery store, Mal's, was Jewish, so I got my other favorite there - meat knishes. (I get them at Stop & Shop occasionally now - is it me, but has even the quality of these grocery store knishes declined??)

              But I am going WAY back, and exposing my age...

              I've even tried corning my own beef a couple of times. Comes out pretty good - but NOTHING even CLOSE to a real, good Jewish corned beef. No way.

              Now I'm in Lynn, and we have quite a few Russian grocery stores here. My favorite is the one on Broad St. - "Gastronome" (or something like that.)There have lots of deli items, but never saw anything that looks like corned beef - I should ask next time I go there.

              1. re: threedogs

                It's sad the Stone's bakery on Ocean Ave near the Swampscott line sold a couple of years ago.

                But I am happy to have Buona Fortuna Bavarian Rye at Stop & Shop. The crust is not quite right, but the rest is heads above anything else available in these parts nowadays.

                1. re: Karl S

                  I will be sure to try that rye - and I wasn't here when the Stone Bakery was here. Too bad... I think I know the bakery that replaced it - the folks there are so nice... and the food is so awful.

                  1. re: Karl S

                    That was a great bakery. We'd always stop there on the way home from the dentist in Lynn. I remember peeling off the union sticker on the rye bread.

            2. That's just completely untrue. The water thing is myth, and wood-fired brick ovens are commonplace--every Bertucci's has one. The fact is so many people consider the rolls at Dunkin' Donuts to be real bagels, there is no way you could recoup the investment in the equipment to set up a Montreal-style bagel shop. It simply comes down to economics.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Two Forks

                Ha! That makes sense... my guy & I were talking about the restaurants that HE knows to have brick ovens - unfortunately, most of these rests. are gone, so we just thought that it was a recent thing. He's a decade or so older than I, and he talks about a bakery that used to be in the Newmarket area of Roxbury when he was a kid. The people in his neighorhood used to actually bring their turkeys to be roasted (for practically pennies) in their brick oven. Man, that must have been out-of-this-world...

                The cost would be enormous for a small business owner today - but one would think that someone with enough $$ backing them would latch onto the idea (for Montreal-style bagels)- we know just from this board that the lines would form before they'd even open!

                1. re: Two Forks

                  I was just at a Bertucci's not too long ago and noticed that its brick oven was gas fired. Not sure about all the other locations they have, though.

                  Agree that the water thing has been proven to be a mygh.

                  1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                    What about Regina's, in the North End? Don't they have a brick oven? I thought so.

                    1. re: twentyoystahs

                      Never been to that location of Regina's (I won't stand in that long of a line) but I've read on CH that they do have one. If there's an ordinance against brick ovens, certainly this one would have been grandfathered in.

                2. Wow ... been a long time since anyone's replied to this.
                  Well as a former Montrealer nothing beats a fresh out of the oven Montreal Bagel at 2am.

                  Once we were able to drive a favorite past time of my friends and I was to go out on the town and end it with getting a dozen or so of right out of the oven bagels.
                  Most of the time at least half of them were gone by the time we got home.

                  The only problem with these bagels is that that they are only good for 1 or possibly 2 days and then they are Hockey Pucks!
                  Freezing them is OK if you really have to but defrosting them properly is key.

                  I'm not sure if both of these paces are still open but if you get the chance ( only a 5+ hour ride from Boston ) go to St. Viateur ( my choice ) or Fairmont Bagels.

                  Hmmm ,,, I think i'll make a bagels run!!!

                  Ciao!

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: Cigarfanattic

                    Montreal bagels are fine after they've been frozen. I just defrost them one at at time, in a ziplock bag, for at least an hour (usually overnight), then slice and toast, come out good as new.

                    And they sell St. Viateur bagels, by the 1/2 dozen in Newton Highlands Market. Check 'em out, save on gas!

                    1. re: winedude

                      Where is the Newton Highland Market? I'm a displaced MTLer and would love to get my hands on some St Viateur bagels! (Plus, my wife would finally stop complaining about bagels here...)

                      1. re: nader

                        It's on Lincoln St., in Newton Highlands, directly across from Baker's Best. The owner has some Montreal conncection, and sells St. Viateur bagels, Lester's smoked meat, and some great Candaian brews.

                        1. re: nader

                          I think it is called the Walnut Street Market although it is in Newton Highlands.

                          1. re: emilief

                            It's Walnut Market on Lincoln St. in Newton Highlands. Call first, because the bagels are fresh if it's delivery day. last time I was there (this summer), they were also bringing smoked meat down from Montreal. I can't remember the brand, but I do remember it was from a deli in Outremont.

                            Another option is to make your own Montreal bagels. You cannot replicate the fire, and there is something to be said for warm out of the oven.

                        2. re: winedude

                          As another x-Montrealer, I can agree that there is simply nothing like an oven-fresh bagel in the middle of thie night.

                          Here is our preservation technique if you import them by the dozen like we do:
                          Cut them BEFORE you freeze them
                          Pop'em into the toaster WHILE FROZEN - the end result is prettty good. Letting them defrost gives you a soggy bagel -

                          1. re: Cork

                            That technique works for english muffins, too.

                        3. re: Cigarfanattic

                          Both Fairmont and St Viateur are still around

                        4. I want to say that there used to be a place in Coolidge Corner, I think it was called Zatar's oven, which made montreal style bagels that were fantastic (though I have never been to Montreal to compare with the "real thing"). They had clay ovens they baked all the breads in.
                          Too bad that place didn't make it. The food was good, I think the management (and weird open hours) were what did them in.

                          Anyone remember this place? I think they were there in the late 90s....where Lineage is now???

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: poptart

                            I definitely remember Zaatars (I think it had tws a's), and I had their approximation of a a Montreal bagel. It was pretty good, but not close to the real thing. The whole place was good, but you're right, the management and hours were very strange.

                            1. re: winedude

                              I often wonder if those clay ovens are still being used in the current restaurant. They must have spent some $$ to build them, would be too bad if they had to be taken down. But they did take up room...

                              1. re: poptart

                                They're still using them, to bake their rolls, and a variety of fire-roasted entrees..

                                Maybe the Montreal bagels were good at Za'atar's, but the whole place was an abomination. Overpriced, underserviced....It once took me almost half an hour to get a slice of pizza; I gave up, and asked for a refund. They refunded my money, minus the meals' tax!!! It was a tiny amount, but the whole incident summed up why the place closed pretty quick. It was another one of those places where the owners were 'poised' to open the next stores in the chain. Too bad they couldn't make even one work.

                                1. re: galleygirl

                                  I agree, the service was horrible. It was like walking into the Twilight Zone...the place wouldn't be crowded yet you still had to wait for someone to take you order at the walk-up counter.

                                  I really wanted to like the place, wanted it to succeed because the concept and food were pretty good.

                                  How ridiculous that they wouldn't refund your meal tax. That jsut does not make sense.

                                  1. re: poptart

                                    Agree with the above. Their baked products were good if/when they ever delivered them.

                            2. So if the TJ's challah is made somewhat locally, why is it so bad? (and seems to have a shelf-life of a more than a week?)

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: cheesehead in recovery

                                its a few months later but i just found this. Was just at Zuckers today... love it..I saw the Challahs at TJ and they looked old and dried out there. I never bought one there, but fresh at Zuckers they are the best. Some variation from week to week as to sweetness though, but always yummy. Especially hot out of the oven. Also great old time pastires lthat i dont know the name of. One is like a cresent shape with cinnamon suger. I think they said the Montreal name is something with the word Dough in it.. Also some kind of pain au chocolate, looks like a choc. crossaint but its more babke type of dough filled with great quality chocolate inside. Yummy reheated to melt the chocolate. Best Hamantashen around too.

                                1. re: chompie

                                  The pain au chocolate look-alikes sound like NY Jewish bakery chocolate danish, something I have never seen in over 30 years here and not for years in NY, probably my all-time favorite pastry. I gave up searching ages go. Zucker's is calling my name. Thanks, chompie!

                                  1. re: JRL

                                    WOW! glad to help! hope its what you are looking for! let us know! Call first cuz they may only make them certain days, like toward the end of the week. Get hot challah while you are there. We go next door to Dunkin for coffee and ask for a couple butter packets and that ups the yum...