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Bagels vs Bialys

It's Sunday and I can't decide which to have. What's your preference? Do you use the same spreads on both or do you, as I do, have distinct go-withs for each. What about the issue of toasting? Bagels toasted, bialys plain, or vice versa?

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  1. Gee, I have not had a bialy since I stopped working in Manhattan about 14 years ago. Bialy always toasted, with plenty of drippy butter. Untoasted tastes uncooked to me and the butter mixing with the little bits of onions are sooo good. Bagels you can do just about anything to.

    1. A well made bagel does not see the darkness of a toaster until it has started to get stale, unless you want to be charged with bagel abuse.

      Unfortunately, there are so many less than well made bagels out there these days that toasting those is not abuse.

      1. Munched on a bialy on the way back from the Bagel Hole (Brooklyn, NY), Yum. Un Toasted for me. Also brought back some Onion bagels, which we like, when fresh, un toasted, but toasted when we take them outa the freezer.

        I also never put any spread on my bialy, but use various things on the bagels, from whitefish spread, to cheese, to clotted cream, to lekvar etc.

        1. Let's start with the definition of a bagel. It includes plain, sesame, poppy, salt, onion. Other junk is not included in the bagel definition (sorry you guys who put blueberry and god forbid chocolate chips in bagels).

          Just like what to order on a menu, the mood guides which to choose. In FFD county CT we do not have a good bagel at all so i wait til i visit the in-laws in FL to eat the good stuff.

          I like poppy t he best, then sesame, plain and not fond of onion or salt.

          When I have my choice I do both a bagel and a bialy. I look at the bag and say "that one" for the bagel. Grab the cream cheese, shmear both sides, a little novey on one side and some sable or whitefish on the other. Eat away.

          The bialy is a little dryer and needs some more shmear or fish to offset the dryness.

          Next day I sneak into the kitchen grab a bialy and toast. then i put peanut butter on it. It be sacriledge but it is fantastic.

          4 Replies
          1. re: jfood

            Garlic bagels are also included in the definition of a bagel. But you are right about the blueberry.

            1. re: chazzer

              Can't get there with garlic chazzer, sorry. If you want garlic and bread, go Italian.

              1. re: jfood

                I disagree. As a jew, garlic is very much part of our culture as well. Garlic bagels would be perfectly fine as a typical bagel in my world.

                1. re: sivyaleah

                  Yes, and so it horseradish, gefilte fish and prunes, but not in a bagel.

                  If you were to bring some of my favorite bagels back from Israel (the soft kind) most NY Jews would throw them out, my FIL included. They want the crispy outside and tender inside.


          2. You're right jfood. Luckily bialys haven't been adulterated. I don't think they have been adopted by mainstream America and therefore no one has tried to make them "sexy" or fusion-ized them.

            1 Reply
            1. re: lucyis

              And that's why you need to eat them fast! They go bad quickly. I have found, however, they freeze much better than bagels. I wrap them in wax paper individually, then put them all into a plastic ziplock bag. Microwave them on "defrost" for about 15 seconds or so on each side and they come out nice and soft like they were just baked. But, you really need to freeze them as soon as you buy them.

            2. Bialy: Untoasted, plain cream cheese and belly lox. NOT Nova. Must be the salty lox. I'm old school. Or toasted, lots of butter or butter & cream cheese, a bad habit I picked up years ago when I overheard someone ordering it in some corner deli in NYC. I enjoy it too much for my own good. Third, whitefish salad.

              Ok, a bialy in general is my favorite - I like a lot of stuff on them :-)

              Bagels - Also, untoasted. A well done garlic preferably, with cream cheese - maybe butter. Or sesame, maybe plain or salt, also well done ones, I like them dark. Sometimes with lox & cc. NEVER toasted unless it's the next day at home. After that, if there are any left, better off in the garbage pail.

              12 Replies
              1. re: sivyaleah

                May I please come to breakfast at your house? :-)

                1. re: sivyaleah

                  We could have quite a disagreement about belly versus Novey. I think it's an aquired taste. I'd rather not have any than belly, likewise, you'll notice a salt bagel not on my ordered list although i do consider it a bagel.

                  My dad told me that only poor people ate belly. I think that's funny now because we did not have two nickels to rub together and we had neither.

                  The only time I ate lox (and only novey was served) was at relatives or Bar Mitzvahs.

                  1. re: jfood

                    We WERE poor growing up :-)

                    Belly lox was the only thing we knew growing up. I didn't know what Nova was until I moved to NJ when I was about 10 years old. Funny thing is, even tho we were certainly not of well-means, somehow my parents always managed to have a little bit of sturgeon or sable on the table too LOL.

                    It's very hard to find belly lox in NJ, where I now live. I finally found 2 small delis nearby which carry it and it's the "old timers" who usually order it. I'm not that old, I'm 47 but they get a kick out of me when I come in and put on my Brooklyn accent and order it LOL. I guess they don't get too many people coming in for that, let alone when I order the stuffed derma with it :-) (not to eat together obviously)

                    1. re: sivyaleah

                      I too enjoy the flavor of Belly lox more then Nova. I never thought of it as a class thing finding that both belly lox and nova were always priced high.

                      My beleif is that people are told that lox are good and when they do not enjoy true lox (belly lox) they then eat the flaverless Nova Lox so they can tell people they had lox on their bagel.

                      1. re: chazzer

                        Whoa baby. novey has lots of flavor. It's the belly that has no flavor because the salt numbs your tongue so you can't taste the salmon. :-)). Right back atcha.

                        1. re: jfood

                          I'm with Chazzer on this one, although I agree about the salt content of the belly lox. Nova is too bland and offers nothing in the way of flavor for sitting on a bagel. May as well be a piece of plastic for my tastes.

                      2. re: sivyaleah

                        Stuffed derm. Oh boy that brings back memories of Superior deli on Elmora Ave. in Elizabeth.

                        They had both belly and novey and I just looked at them both on my way home.

                        1. re: jfood

                          Maybe it is just that Belly goes better with garlic bagels. Sad to say I do not eat either sine my Blood Pressure has been an issue for a few years. (Garlic it is not just italian)

                          1. re: chazzer

                            You may be right. That's a lot of flavor going on.

                            That's not to say that i'll try it tho. I get lox so rarely, and it's so darn pricey these days (i'm seeing >$30/lb) that i'm very conservative).

                            Nice response.

                            1. re: jfood

                              While it is not lox, it is not dificult to do a home cure salmon. There a a number of recipies for this and I am sure if you requested some on the Home cooking board you will receive more then you could try.

                      3. re: jfood

                        Funny, my dad used to take me to this jewis deli when i was young and always ordered the cheaper belly lox.. i always wanted to try the more expensive nova and he would never buy it. Now that I am 40 all I want is the belly lox and can't find it locally in Naples, Fl (I grew up in Miami Beach) I also did not know that I was poor, I just thought my dad was cheap...and he was that..grew up in the depression and a Russian Jew..So now I really appreciate what I can not find...But he ate tongue and that was and still is gross!!! I know belly lox is avail, I just do not want to pay 60/lb inc shipping

                      4. re: sivyaleah

                        I'm totally with you on the bialy, sivyaleah. Too bad it's been a gazillion years since I've had one. I don't think "bialy" is even in the southeastern PA lexicon. And belly lox ... oh, how I long for the good old days, when my mom would send me to the corner grocery on a weekend morning and I'd ask for "half a quarter" of belly lox.

                      5. My mom always ordered "regular lox" instead of Nova, claiming that the regular had more flavor. I always assumed the Nova was inferior. Now it is all we can get in the midwest. Bah!

                        Mom would also buy a "wing", which was a salmon fin with some fish on it. This she would fry up on Sunday a.m. with some chopped onion; then scrape out the cooked fish with a fork, into the pan; and then add a couple of beaten eggs: resulting in the most flavorful scrambled eggs in the world. Umm, lox, eggs and onion.

                        Eaten with a fresh, lightly toasted, hot poppy seed, garlic, or onion bagel with butter or cream cheese. Heaven.

                        1. A good biale is definitely preferable to a good bagel but I find it easier to find good bagels than good biales, even here in Manhattan with out travelling to the LES (ie just going around the corner to bagel bobs). Although an everything bagel is a bastardization and really just using all the scraps from covering the other bagels I do prefer them, I think its because I love onion and garlic bagels but find I taste them all day long and an everything bagel isnt quite as overwhelming.

                          I put cream cheese and nova on a bagel. I haven't had lox since I was a kid and didnt like it then, so I need to try it again to weigh in on that discussion. On a biale I usually just put cream cheese on it.

                          Toasting is totally determined by freshness, if its fresh no need to toast.

                          1. The absolute best - Barney Greengrass on the weekends sells garlic bialy's - fab toasted with their house made vegetable cream cheese.

                            1. is there a health difference between bagels and bialys? in terms of calories? carbs? thanks!

                              1. Bagels vs Bialys?

                                I too often can't decide, like 'em both. If I want Poppy Seed I'd probably choose Bialys.

                                1. A fresh bialy from Kossar's gets some butter and nothing else. If it's more than a few hours old it gets lightly toasted and buttered.
                                  A fresh bagel from Ess-A-Bagel, on the other hand gets butter or scallion cream cheese, Nova and a little bit of sliced onion. I prefer Garlic, Everything, Onion, Sesame or poppy bagels, in that order. Untoasted if it's fresh lightly toasted if it's a few hours old.

                                  1. While I like them both - if given a choice, it would be a Bialy every time. I SO miss them. Haven't had one in nearly 16 years now. Sigh.

                                    However, a recent blurb in The New York Times recently has me thinking I may just order some (along with some bagels) from this NY spot:


                                    As far as how I enjoy them. Lox & Cream Cheese is my favorite, in which case I like them untoasted. Otherwise, toasted with butter.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Bacardi1

                                      FYI: R&D (Barney Greengrass and others) get their bialys from Kossar's.
                                      Kossar's does shipping. Best to get them from the source.
                                      I buy them a dozen at a time. They freeze well in zip lock freezer bags. When I want one for the next day's breakfast I take it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge. It's defrosted by morning. A light toasting almost brings them back to their fresh baked goodness.
                                      Never, EVER, use a microwave.

                                        1. re: cavandre

                                          Seriously??? Where is their bakery? They seem to only sell thru supermarkets. Ugh!!
                                          Are they related to The One and Only Original Authentic Ray's Pizza?

                                      1. Bialys. always. Bialys have more flavor without having to come in 40 different varieties and they toast to a nice crunch. A bagel seems to need a lot of flavor enhancements to have any flavor and toasted bagels taste like wallpaper paste to me.