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Protection of the "Montreal Bagel" designation

Maybe it is time that a Commission for the Integrity of the "Montreal Bagel" is established. With associated rules like geographical restrictions (I.e. a two km radius from the intersection of St. Viateur and St. Laurent). etc... Suggestions for other criteria are welcome.


On a recent trip to Hamilton, Ontario (the donut capital and home of Tim Horton's). I took the following photo in a supermarket bakery. Click on the thumbnail below, it speaks volumes.

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  1. You're freakin' kidding me!

    1. Ok, so i laughed out loud when I saw this pic! Now I understand the importance of AOC regulations!

      At the same time I feel somewhat violated... Of course, what can you expect from the home of Tim Hortons (phetoooey...)

      1. I think if that's what a Tim Horton's in Hamilton is calling a bagel, we should just start with a commission for the integrity of what a bagel is first.

        1. Relax, people. The tray was probably just placed in the wrong slot. At the tim hortons I frequent the most they regulary mislabel crullers as cinnamon rolls and muffins as boston creams, etc.

          Wait, maybe you're right after all. Cinnamon sugar?!

          7 Replies
          1. re: mainsqueeze

            Uh, no. Read the label under the basket: "Montreal Style Bagel : Cinnamon Sugar".

            Don't relax, people!

                  1. re: emerilcantcook

                    Maybe it's cocaine, and they're mocking the "big. loose city"

            1. re: mainsqueeze

              I don't think this was in an actual Tim Hortons (phetoooey), I think this was in a supermarket in Hamilton. But Hamilton is the home of Tim Hortons (phetoooey).

              If that was the Montreal style bagel, can you imagine what the New York Style bagel looks like?

              1. re: moh

                It was in a supermarket that, like Provigo, is a division of Loblaws. You might think it superfluous, but they also sold donuts in the dessert section.

                They only had "Montreal style" bagels.

            2. "Suggestions for other criteria are welcome."

              Three flavours period: white, black, plain.

              Hole must be big enough to poke your index finger through (pinkie if shoe size is larger than 12 or EEE) without stretching or damaging the bread.

              The diameter of the cross section of thickest part of ring must be no greater than twice the diameter of the hole or 1.25 inches (3 cm), whichever is less.

              Must taste best within 30 minutes of being taken out of oven.

              24 hours after baking, must taste dry and uninteresting unless toasted.

              48 hours after baking, must be good only for making bagel chips.

              Must be baked on the north side of the block of St-Viateur Street west of Park Ave. <ducking>

              6 Replies
              1. re: carswell

                Only topped with sesame or poppy seeds. (Might wish to explicitly exclude powdered sugar just to be safe.)

                1. re: carswell

                  Can sesame seed AND poppy seed mix count or is that blasphemy?

                  1. re: afoodyear

                    Sorry, it's blasphemy. Black seed or white seed. Not both at the same time.

                    1. re: cherylmtl

                      Oh, woah, woah, wait a minute....I make an exception for Fairmount's "Bozo", which is the best of both worlds and gives the lox two very different vehicles.

                  2. re: carswell

                    I think you mistook North side St. Viatuer for South side of Fairmount.

                    1. re: carswell

                      I would add a few details about the way they are made: boiled dough, brick oven.

                    2. That is indeed outrageous. If it wasn't an honest mistake...Someone should show this pic to the folks at Fairmount and St-Viateur, they'd probably be appalled. :)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: JasonMontreal

                        There was no mistake. Their consistency was far closer to that of a bagel than a donut. These are a separate breed from the donuts that were being sold.

                      2. I am appalled. My actual expression whilst viewing that abomination was



                        1 Reply
                        1. re: phedre

                          I felt the way Mexicans must feel when seeing an Old El Paso Stand N' Stuff Taco Dinner Kit.

                        2. Hi, Vince From St-Viateur Bagel. Someone just sent me the link to this board. I cannot belive it!! What's next. Sneider's Balony labled "Smoked Meat", Putting a cross at the top of the CN tower , or even seeing Toronto winning a Stanley cup.

                          I also came across a web-site of a bagel place in TO that announces right there on their home-page that they worked for us in MTL, (never heard of them).

                          1. I remember that last summer I saw a bagel sandwich in Barcelona!!

                            link to flickr


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Maximilien

                              Well at least the bagel in that ad looks more like a bagel that the one in the initial poster's pic

                            2. Last time I was at Fairmount Bagel(around 6 months ago), they were still making their pina colada bagel.

                              1. LOL. Its not that big of a deal. Consider it a compliment if anything. Im from philly and what they pass off as philly steak here is ridiculous to say the least. I would love to open a philly style sandwich shop here, but to have all the ingredients and stuff shipped in from philly would probably cost to much sadly. Take it in stride :).

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: mike2000z28

                                  Oh mike. No. No.

                                  Just look at those things.

                                  I have to say no.

                                  But I for one would encourage you to open a philly steak shop! Do you put cinnamon and sugar on them?

                                  1. re: moh

                                    sugar frosted philly steak! now, that would be gross.

                                    1. re: Maximilien

                                      I for one find the use of the term 'Montreal Bagel' for the purpose of marketing a factory made, American/Ontario style bagel covered in Cinnamon sugar offensive. Before this whole issue gets out of hand, I have contacted the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce asking their assistance in this matter.

                                      As a Montrealer, who takes pride in our culture and our food, I can not passively let Ontario retailers continue to use our good name to pass off spurious product. I whole heartedly agree with the formation of an organization mandated to protect our bagel, as well as, offer educational information on how to spot the real deal versus bogus bagels like this retailer is trying to pass off.

                                      We need to act fast before someone wages war on Hamilton!!!

                                      1. re: fedelst1

                                        This is undoubtedly a travesty, but the world is full of travesties. The idea of "protecting" the "Montreal Bagel" designation is just silly. If people want to make lousy bagels and call them "Montreal Style," all that does is make the real thing even more desireable. And anyone who has ever travelled more than 20 miles knows that if you want the real thing (of anything) you have to go to its place of origin. If you want a fascimile, you have to look long and hard.

                                        It's ok to be offended, and it's ok for non-discriminating people to be easily fooled. Who cares? The last thing we need is for the government (or any governing body) to be dictating to us what is, or what isn't.

                                        What's next? Are we going to "protect" Boston cream pie? Manhattan clam chowder? Paella Valencia?

                                        There's a huge difference between a recipe and a truly geographically determined product, like olive oil from a specific region, San Marzano tomatoes, etc. Surely Thomasen was speaking tongue-in-cheek with the original post in this thread, but jeez, you can't be serious about an organization to protect the bagel!

                                        1. re: blork

                                          Well, I don't think we're talking about getting an AOC, but I reckon that having a Society for the Preservation of the Montreal Bagel would be fun and useful thing. If this were Britain, someone would have done this a long time ago.

                                          1. re: blork

                                            I was speaking tongue in cheek. However, I would dispute your assertion, "If people want to make lousy bagels and call them "Montreal Style," all that does is make the real thing even more desirable." I could easily envision a situation where someone buys a bagel like one pictured above, spits it out and thinking what all of the fuss is about decides never to touch a bagel in Montreal.

                                            Maybe I should bottle a sweetened wine cooler and label it as, "Ontario style eiswine"?

                                            Furthermore, there are many precedents of a recipe being regulated, e.g. Reinheitsgebot or German Beer Purity Law.

                                            Maybe, one should market the idea of an official "Montreal Bagel" stamp of approval to ensure that that bagel is manufactured according to certain standards, hand-rolled etc. Then people will know they will get an approximation of the real thing.

                                            1. re: thomasein

                                              [Maybe I should bottle a sweetened wine cooler and label it as, "Ontario style eiswine"? ]

                                              LOL! LOL LOL LOL

                                              To return to the topic at hand, I am afraid I am not much of a purist when it comes to bagels. Actually, I find only Costco bagels stay moist when toasted and buttered in the morning and packed in my girls' lunches. Montreal bagels are like French baguettes, they go stale in a few hours.

                                              1. re: rillettes

                                                For what it's worth, the Reinheitsgebot (which was implemented 500 years go) was as much about price fixing of grains as was about the purity of the beer. Besides, you can tell when a bagel is crap just by looking at it, but you can't tell with beer, so beer and wines (etc.) are in a different category of consumer protection needs.

                                                I'll go a step beyond Rillettes and say that too many laws and regulations just dumb people down. What about some common sense? What about the ability of people to LEARN that when they buy stuff in bulk from a supermarket it's not going to be the same as the thing it is imitating?

                                                What about curiosity? Mike2000z28 mentions Philly Steaks. If I get a frozen Philly Steak from Costco and it tastes pretty lousy after I microwave it, what should my reaction be? (A) Philly Steaks suck. (B) Frozen mass produced sandwiches generally suck and definitely bear no resemblance to the originals.

                                                If I chose (A) I'd be pretty stupid. I've learned (B) through experience, not through laws.

                                                If anything, that experience would make me curious about the real thing, and I'd seek it out. If I ever found myself in Philly, I'd try get one.

                                                On the other hand, a "Society for the Preservation of the Montreal Bagel" would be fun if it were done in the spirit of fun and of educating people about what differentiates the real thing from the fakes. But I still think it would be silly to try to formalize it.

                                      1. I believe you will find a Bill Brownstein article on this thread in tomorrows Gazette.

                                        His comments were a declaration of "sacrilege" when he saw the photo.

                                        I also had informed the Hamilton Chamber of commerce about the incident, and their CEO, a former Montrealer had provided a very diplomatic reply stating that the citizens of Hamilton should not be damned for the actions of a single retailer. Clearly he was taking this malign of our venerable bagel lightly.

                                        He further stated that as a former military man, he would have make some serious considerations over whether he took up arms for his original home town of Montreal, or his new home in Hamilton. I say, for the honor of the bagel, there is no contest, it would obviously be in favor of Montreal.

                                        We have also identified the retailer and the exact store. Brownstein interviewed the baker, who stated that he has NEVER BEEN TO MONTREAL!!!! I think we should get him over here, or at the least FEDEX him a couple dozen so he can see and taste what he is supposed to be replicating.

                                        If you look carefully at the photo, you will notice something very interesting about these rolls. Montreal bagels are rolled by hand from a strip of dough, boiled and then baked. In the photo, you will notice that not only are these bagels perfectly round, but they have clear indications that they were cut from a sheet of dough. Look at the sides, you can see the cutter marks. These were made the same way you would cut donuts. Clearly the fact that these were made in the home town of Tim Horton's has made this baker believe that this is the way to make a bagel....

                                        The baker refuses to remove the Montreal designation from the labeling. I say we hop in my truck with a vat of tar and feathers and go on a road trip to Hamilton.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: fedelst1

                                          Yes, Bill Brownstein has an article in today's Gazette. Just heard the Montreal Gazette radio promo on Montreal radio mentioning it. Haven't picked up my Gazette paper yet.

                                          1. re: BLM

                                            too funny. I considered e-mailing him too!

                                            Here's the article in e-form


                                              1. re: maisonbistro

                                                Well, we may just have to rig up a tank, the way things are going. Them's fighting words!!

                                                A tank might have more room for a wood burning oven and the paddle and the water bath.... Plus we could string the bagels on the front gun barrel thingy. (sorry, not up on my military jargon).

                                                what I don't really understand is why this baker feels the need to use the phrase "Montreal style" in is description. Is it because no one in their right mind would buy a "Hamilton Style" bagel? Because a "Hamilton style bagel" is crap? Maybe....

                                                I am worried about the fedexing of bagels to this baker. They are really at their best when eaten very fresh. I could see this guy purposely leaving them out for a few days, then "taste-testing" them to freshly made "hamilton style bagels". Although I do think there is still a chance the Montreal bagel would still taste better !!!!!

                                          2. re: fedelst1

                                            Brownstein has a follow-up article in today's Gazette:


                                            They've also added their own message board on the topic:


                                          3. The local Hamilton newspaper is now pursuing the story, http://www.thespec.com/News/Local/art..., complete with online poll and multimedia feature.

                                            It features more photos of bagels that look more like oversized cheerrios than any bagel.

                                            9 Replies
                                            1. re: thomasein

                                              Thanks for that, thomasein

                                              That link is bad, though. Here's one that works:


                                                1. re: mainsqueeze

                                                  The dude in the video looks like he means business. Unfortunately, he makes NY-style bagels so he's not concerned by this little tiff.

                                                2. re: SnackHappy

                                                  I can't wait to see how they work out how to make this blind taste test work. I think they might have to blindfold the victims and wash off all the powdered sugar first!

                                                  Compare and contrast:

                                                  1. re: Maximilien

                                                    Thomasein, I hope your mom isn't getting too much flack in Hamilton!

                                                    1. re: moh

                                                      She can handle herself. Besides, the cause of the Montreal bagel is a just cause.

                                                  2. re: thomasein

                                                    Thanks for fighting the good fight, thomasein. If you need a place to stay after your apartment is fire-bombed, let us know.

                                                  3. Ahhhhhhhh but they are so delicious, take your mom`s advice from when you were little....... try them and you`ll LOVE them. What can I say Hamilton took the montreal bagel and made to perfection.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: John222

                                                      Oh John, them's fighting words. Maybe what Hamilton did was take an idea, rework it and make something completely different that pleases Hamiltonians, but a real Montreal Bagel it is not.

                                                      Repeat after me: Cut from a huge batch of dough, rolled into strips by hand like play-doh, pinched into relatively even pieces, formed into an "O" shape, boiled in sweetened water,dunked in either poppy or sesame seeds, baked on a long oarlike thing in a wood burning oven, deftly removed from hot oven, and dumped into receiving receptacle. THAT my friend is a Montreal Bagel.

                                                      1. re: maisonbistro

                                                        Ohhhhhhhhh Maison if only you knew............................ thats how we do it too bad the secret to the cinnamon is all ours

                                                        1. re: John222

                                                          Ummm, John - THIS isn't a secret - you can keep your cinammon - it's all yours. And heck, why you don't you dub them the "hamilton style round dough with a hole in it with sugar sprinkled on top" - I promise you that no one will fight you. No one.

                                                          And by the way, if that is how you do it, well you're doing something wrong, very very wrong. I've never seen a red bagel in my life.

                                                      2. re: John222

                                                        Um... I understand the need to defend your native turf, but while those Hamilton bagels may be as scrumptious as can be, and that I may very well love them were I to try them, the fact remains that they're simply not Montreal-style bagels. I do believe that's the whole point, not whose bagels are better. :-)

                                                        1. re: kpzoo

                                                          100 % correect. and in the Letter to the Chamber of Commerce I had stated that our issue is nothing more than the use of the words 'Montreal Style' on the tray label. They are welcome to sell what ever they want, but if they want to sell a bagel that is declared to be Montreal style, the should be selling something representative of the real deal.

                                                          This would be like saying that Vegemite and Marmite are the same thing. You want to see a war, hit an Aussie or Brit food blog and make that claim. I assure you you will not find a safe place on the planet once you issue such a statement. At least we are not as rabid about out dear bagel.

                                                        2. re: John222

                                                          Oh dear. I hope you work your flameproof undies, because that's gonna earn you a roasting!

                                                        3. This story made it into the Gazette, front page news! This is nuts! And so begins the "Bagel Wars", break out the cream cheese! Hamilton vs Montreal

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: JasonMontreal

                                                            I would say that based on the photos, the Hamilton Bagel is much more lethal...

                                                            1. re: JasonMontreal

                                                              Er... I would say Montreal Vs. Hamilton.... We are defending our respected bagel. They are using our reputation to market a faux Montreal bagel...

                                                              You know... from looking at the photos of that bagel, I think I can see the words made in Taiwan stamped on the side. Perhaps these are cheap off shore knock offs that are imported..... This might just be a global conspiracy!!!

                                                            2. I know this supermarket chain and I know these "hamilton' bagels well! I agree that these sugar buns are NOT montreal bagels, but they do actually make the bagels in montreal style (boiled, wood oven fired, in sesame or poppy seed) and are REALLY good and very very similar to the real deal. (I've just had 12 dozen delivered from St. Urbain in montreal and don't prefer one over the other)..
                                                              I guess in a humble Hamiltonians defence this is an unfortunate picture of one of the many versions they turn the original bagel into...

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: burlgurl

                                                                Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe St-Urbain Bagel is in Toronto.

                                                                1. re: SnackHappy

                                                                  Yup- there are two - one in York and one in Toronto. If you Google it, there's also one in LA!!

                                                                  1. re: SnackHappy

                                                                    Oops! my mistake, your right!
                                                                    I meant to say St. Viateur!

                                                                2. A modest proposal: if Hamilton doesn't back down, we start calling it Steal City.

                                                                  1. It looks like the taste test will be happening on the 11th or 12th of February. But I really have to say, the test will clearly be for which is the better tasting submission, as only the original Montreal bagel will taste like ,er, the original Montreal Bagel.

                                                                    On the count of Hamilton having a more authentic product we can not have a contest.

                                                                    So, now I pose this question (and I already have my preference), which Montreal Bagel do we use for the submission? and how do you propose the bagels are tested?

                                                                    Should we go with the winner of the Montreal Bagel taste test from Earlier this year, or submit a variety from the 2 -3 top contenders.

                                                                    As for testing, should they be plain, or with nothing more than butter or Cream cheese. Also are they toasted or not?

                                                                    My pick would be:
                                                                    -St. Viateur, and both poppy and Sesame
                                                                    -Toasted, and choice of Cream Cheese or Butter.
                                                                    -No flavored toppings like Jam, Cheese, or Cretons.
                                                                    -bagels must be original style, and no cinnamon raisin, Pina Colada, or Multigrain.

                                                                    Any thoughts?

                                                                    14 Replies
                                                                    1. re: fedelst1

                                                                      Why bother with a taste-off? As kpzoo said so well above, "the fact remains that they're simply not Montreal-style bagels. I do believe that's the whole point, not whose bagels are better." A taste-off is a distraction.

                                                                      1. re: carswell

                                                                        I'm with carswell on this one. The point of the thing was not about who makes a better bagel. It was about the desecration of the Montreal bagel and wether people could use the Montreal-Style bagel designation willy-nilly. This taste-off seems just like a bit of posturing to sell newspapers. Actulally, I'm a bit sorry that this has turned into a Montreal vs. Hamilton pissing contest.

                                                                        1. re: SnackHappy

                                                                          I agree 100%. I've been to Hamilton many times, and they can definitely piss further than Montrealers, but a taste-off is completely moot.

                                                                          1. re: SnackHappy

                                                                            "This taste-off seems just like a bit of posturing to sell newspapers."

                                                                            Front page headline in today's online edition of the Gazoo: "Gloves are off in big bagel showdown". Followed by a link to "The Brownstein column that started it all". Talk about your high journalistic standards...

                                                                            1. re: carswell

                                                                              "The Brownstein column that started it all". Except for the Chowhound discussion that started it all. Heck, even CBC Radio One talked about it last Tuesday on their afternoon show (day before Brownstein's column came out).

                                                                              Steal Town. Love it.

                                                                          2. re: carswell

                                                                            "a Taste-off is a distraction"

                                                                            Understand where you and some of the others are coming from. I do agree, but I think a taste-off would be interesting just to see how close the unadorned Hamilton Bagel comes to the Montreal bagel. Yes, the cinnamon-sugar thing is an abomination (abdomenation?), and not a Montreal style bagel. But I would like to know if the regular "Montreal-Style" bagel is at least close to the real thing. Just curious I guess...I don't think we'll get any answer from this taste-off, as Snackhappy points out, " This taste-off seems just like a bit of posturing to sell newspapers". But I am intrigued by the notion of Bagel Terroir... If Someone (not necessarily this insane baker at Fortino's) in Hamilton follows the exact steps to make a Montreal-Style bagel, why do people still talk about it not being the same? Does the concept of Bagel terroir exist?

                                                                            1. re: moh

                                                                              Just as I'd have no problems with Hamilton bagel bakers calling their wares "Montreal-style" if, in fact, they were Montreal-style, I'd have no problems with a taste-off if it's purpose was to educate, to inform Hamiltonians about what makes a bagel Montreal-style (and that cinnamon sugar immediately disqualifies any bagel from that claim). But now that's not going to happen.

                                                                              Co-opted by the Gazette. Oh, the ignominy!

                                                                          3. re: fedelst1

                                                                            Should there not be a chance to taste them unadorned, untoasted as well? Toasting, butter and cream cheese alter the base taste. I agree these options should be included in the Tasting, but after eating them straight.

                                                                            Make sure that the age of the bagels are matched: fresh same day!

                                                                            1. re: fedelst1

                                                                              Who will be the judges based in Montreal(I assume one of them will be Bill Brownstein, with the others also from the Montreal Gazette)?

                                                                              1. re: BLM

                                                                                I am one of the Judges, and I would presume that Thomasein is also on the judging panel as well. I have no idea who the 4th is.

                                                                                The concept is to have them cross shipped. I would hope the same day, as day olds are just not the same.

                                                                                As I stated in the letter, my grief was the use of the denomination "Montreal style" on a product that bears no resemblance. Bill Brownstein, John Dolbec,(of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, and Steve Arnold (of the Hamilton Spectator) had initiated the challenge.

                                                                                Yes, the challenge is light hearted, but it does have merit in the fact that the baker in Hamilton, who is baking these 'Montreal style' confections, and has never tried an actual authentic Montreal Bagel, will now be educated on what a true Montreal bagel is.

                                                                                If at the end of this who brouhaha the folks in Hamilton start making authentic goods, I will be a happy man. And, if they don't, I will meet them in hell and force feed them lender's frozen bagels icy cold.

                                                                                From what I heard in the conversatons of the past few days, Fortinos actually start the production of their bagels by planting cheerios in a back lot, and water them for a few weeks. Once they have mature bagel trees, they harvest them and coat them in a variety of flavored toppings incliding Cinnamon sugar, Anchovy and Olive, Gravy and cheese, amongst many other Hamilton favorites. ;~> ba haha

                                                                                1. re: fedelst1

                                                                                  I coulda been a judge. I'm a bagel aficionado, chef and native Montrealer... Boo hoooo

                                                                                  May the best bagel win. Okay, so may the other bagel apologize to all Montreal bagels and beg our forgiveness.

                                                                                  1. re: fedelst1


                                                                                    Why would you volunteer(!) to eat one of those things?

                                                                                    1. re: zekesgallery

                                                                                      Because, my friend, you need to know pain to know joy. You need to experience evil to appreciate good.

                                                                                      Frankly, I am morbidly curious. You think we could get Anthony Bourdain to try one? Can't be any worse than that iguauna he had to choke down in Mexico (no, really, it tastes like chicken..)

                                                                                      1. re: zekesgallery

                                                                                        The flip side of that is free REAL bagels.

                                                                                2. I've been following the articles in the Gazette for yet another Bagel War. Grats to Thomasein for bringing this to everyone's attention. lol.

                                                                                  Maybe we do need an AOC for the Montreal Bagel. All the other bagel bakeries that attempted to replicate the Montreal Bagel found they had to duplicate our tap water (mineral content) to make and boil their bagels to even get a bagel that closely tasted like a true Montreal Bagel. Perhaps we could get an AOC based upon our "eau-oir".

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: JadeMyst

                                                                                    To be honest, I wouldn't want to eat a Montreal bagel that has been shipped to Hamilton - it would be stale by then. And besides, the taste test would only have any real value if the goal was not to see which tastes better, but which tastes more like a Montreal bagel.
                                                                                    The Hamilton one seems like it is more of a dessert item, and depending on who the judges are and if they have a sweet tooth or not, they may prefer what appears to be a doughnut over the bagel.

                                                                                    These seem to be 2 completely different food items, with 1 one them (the Hamilton item) lying to try to gain sales. People have to think for themselves and not believe whatever they see on a hand-written grocery chain label. If they believe it, or even shop at a grocery chain, they deserve what they get.

                                                                                    At least Brownstein gets to make a buck out of it and we get to express our Montreal patriotism.

                                                                                    1. re: spankyhorowitz

                                                                                      I don't understand how this has become a Montreal vs. Hamilton thing, isn"t the fraud being perpetrated on the people of Hamilton? They are the true victims, not we. Sure it stings a little that these things are being called "Montreal style" when they're clearly not, but at least we're not being tricked into eating them under false pretenses.

                                                                                  2. I find it all amusing and love how Bill Brownstein has gone to bat for the Montreal Bagel in the Gazette, but he shouldn't lump all of Ontario together (it's done mostly in the quotes however, so can't blame Brownstein himself). There are some excellent and very authentic versions of the Montreal Bagel in Ottawa that would pass any AOC test except for, obviously, geography. (I say this as a Montreal-native, living in Ottawa)

                                                                                    I'd add the the idea of a 'blind' taste test is hilarious. Does anyone think for a millisecond that wearing a blindfold will make any difference in tasting the difference between a real Montreal-bagel and that sugar-coated giant Life Saver? The Hamilton bagel may well be delicious, but save yourself the trouble and ditch the blindfold.

                                                                                    1. As we are approaching the day of the taste test, we find we are faced with a couple challenges. First off, as Via does not have a train to Hamilton, the bagels will be sent overnight the evening before. So as to preserve freshness, the bagels will be picked up and packed as close to the shipping cut off as possible.

                                                                                      We all know how hard cold Montreal Bagels can get, so, if anyone has a better technique than the paper bag in the plastic bag method for keeping bagels softer longer, we would greatly appreciate your suggestions.

                                                                                      We want our bagel ambassadors to arrive in the best possible condition...

                                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: fedelst1

                                                                                        Cut them in half, freeze them, ship them in dry ice, and taste-test them toasted with butter.

                                                                                        1. re: fedelst1

                                                                                          Oooh, not good. Not good at all. Is Via on Hamilton's side? Is this the conspiracy we were worried about??

                                                                                          I think in all honesty, the taste testers from Hamilton should shlep here to try ours, and then everyone goes back to Hamilton to try - well, those things they think are bagels.

                                                                                          1. re: fedelst1


                                                                                            Air Canada (actually Tango) flies from Montreal to Hamilton, direct, what looks like, three times/day. Ask Mr. Brownstein if he can't get one of the flight attendants to make the transfer.

                                                                                            1. re: zekesgallery

                                                                                              Good Point Zeke!!

                                                                                              I don't mind schlepping the bagels to AC as a cargo shipment.

                                                                                              I am sure the judges wouldn't mind the suggestion made by MaisonBistro, but Hey!!! we're talking about Hamilton. If it was Banff, or some place scenic like St-Pierre-et-Miquelon, then I am sure that they would be happy to go. Perhaps they might even consider Fiji, or Hawaii if they really had to, but Hamilton... ??? Not a prayer.

                                                                                              Perhaps we could hold the event in an unbiased region, like Guam!!

                                                                                              1. re: zekesgallery

                                                                                                Yes, I can confirm that Air Canada flies daily from Montreal to "Hamilton International" (HI! for short - I kid you not).

                                                                                                The flight itself takes about 70 min. Since HI! is not a bustling terminal the time from plane to street is very quick - 10 min. or so. I would worry more about the bagels getting stale while waiting in the interminable lineup at the security check in Dorval. (Furthermore, I would worry that a unlucky poppy seed bagel might be accused of terrorist connections and redirected to Guantanamo.)

                                                                                                A bagel loving flight attendant would be the ideal solution.

                                                                                              2. re: fedelst1

                                                                                                First of all I want to applaud your vigilence in protecting the integrity of the Montreal bagel.

                                                                                                Otherwise it is likely to suffer the fate of the NY Bagel which these days is more likely to be "essentially rolls with holes and no soul".

                                                                                                If only we in the US had heeded the warning signs and had challenged the imposters before it was too late. It is so bad that this past Christmas Noah's 'NY' bagels produced candy-cane shaped bagels with twisted dough dyed lurid red and green. Oh the humanity.

                                                                                                Anyway ... would one of those food saver or Renold's vacuum seal bags help keep the bagel soft and pristine by sucking the air out of the bag?

                                                                                                One other point, maybe there should be a requirement that the Fortinos bagel be made at the same time as the Via bagel and stored in the same way ... whatever that might be.

                                                                                                IMO, the ante should be raised ... humiliating t-shirts are not enough. In the unlikley event the Montreal bagel loses, you would be forced to eat a sugar-coated bagel. If Fortinos loses they should be required to cease and desist labeling it a Montreal bagel ... or at least the sugar-coated one.

                                                                                                1. re: rworange

                                                                                                  (A grudging reply, since the whole taste-off is IMO a waste of time, a co-opting of this thread and the impetus behind it. Harrumph!)

                                                                                                  «Anyway ... would one of those food saver or Renold's vacuum seal bags help keep the bagel soft and pristine by sucking the air out of the bag?»

                                                                                                  The problem is that the fresh bagels' appeal diminishes rapidly, yet -- perversely (from a preservation standpoint) -- the first few hours after they come out of the oven, the bagels give off a quite astounding amount of moisture. That's why (at the St-Viateur bagel factory, at least) your order of still warm bagels is put in a paper bag along with a plastic bag for later use. If you placed them directly into an airtight bag, they would soon be a soggy mess. A few hours later, when they've shed enough moisture to be packaged in plastic without danger, they're already inferior, fit only for toasting. In a phrase, they are among the most ephemeral of breads.

                                                                                                  If a flight attendant can't be found, overnight via Purolator or UPS, both of which have a hub in Hamilton, with priority delivery in the morning would possibly be the best bet. Vince (aka bagelman) may have a better idea; after all, he regularly ships them nationwide.

                                                                                                  1. re: carswell

                                                                                                    This could all be considered a waste of time, but let's keep this in perspective....this is not a battle to the death, nor will the winner get to claim the others city as their own should they win. It is strictly for bragging rights, and done in good spirit.

                                                                                                    Truly, Hamilton has no right to brand their roll with a hole 'Montreal style 'if they are going to foist bastardized product baked by a baker who by his own admission never tried a real Montreal bagel.... and then has the gall to state that he believes he makes a better Montreal bagel than you can get in Montreal. That is Chutzpah to the max.

                                                                                                    I have no issues with this baker making any type of bagels he wants, in any flavor. I don't even question whether they taste any better or worse than our bagel. The issue is truly the use of the term 'Montreal Bagel' as a description of the product. I appreciate that he has named it as such because of the process he uses to make them, but just because they are boiled at the proofing stage does not make any boiled ring of yeast dough a Montreal Style bagel.

                                                                                                    If he is so proud of his product, why not declare them Hamilton style bagels!!!! Then they can pride themselves in the distinction of their own variety!!! We could then, in fact, conduct this challenge properly, for the determination of which is a better bagel, The Montreal Bagel or the Hamilton Bagel.

                                                                                                    1. re: carswell

                                                                                                      I have found that once the bagels cool and most of the moisture has been released, that placing the slightly humid paper bag in to the plastic bag (or better yet a ZipLoc) creates the perfect environment for the bagels to sit for the next 24 hours without turning hard.

                                                                                                      I guess the bag acts as a sort of bagel humidor.

                                                                                                      If Vince has a better idea, I guess this might be the best way to go.

                                                                                                      Any attempt to suck air our of a bag of fresh baked bagels will cause them to collapse and become gummy hard disks from hell. This might be a crime so bad that our ancestors will come back from the dead to dope slap us....

                                                                                                      However, removing as much air as possible from the bag once the bagels are cool, without creating a vaccuum that would put pressure on the bagels should avoid them from getting dry. I would still keep the paper bag on them within a sealed plastic bag through to the point of delivery.

                                                                                                      I think some experimentation is in order.

                                                                                                2. the results of the taste-off are in today's Gazette:)

                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: hala


                                                                                                    So who here rushed out to buy a Gazette in order to read the article?

                                                                                                    1. re: hala

                                                                                                      All links to articles and videos are up in the posted items section of the Facebook group page.



                                                                                                      EDIT: forgot the link. Sorry.

                                                                                                      1. re: SnackHappy

                                                                                                        Could you repost the links here for those of us who (gasp!) don't do Facebook?

                                                                                                          1. re: SnackHappy

                                                                                                            Gah. For the life of me, I cannot get that canwest video to play. I tried my macbook pro and my windows box, in IE, Firefox, and safari. NOTHING.

                                                                                                            Edit: there we go. FF on windows did the trick.

                                                                                                          2. re: carswell

                                                                                                            Nice to see my favourite shop come out on top... again!

                                                                                                            1. re: phedre

                                                                                                              Truth be told it wasn't even close. The significant difference in quality really surprised me.

                                                                                                      2. Howdy!

                                                                                                        In case anyone else missed it, Benoît Aubin at Le Journal de Montréal pipes in with his commentary on the whole 'defense of the bagel' affair.

                                                                                                        And hits the nail right on the head, too!


                                                                                                        1. A friend who recently passed through Hamilton provides the following evidence that Steal Town still hasn't reformed its ways. Oh the humanity!

                                                                                                          1 Reply