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Dec 4, 2011 02:31 PM

sure there are great baguettes to be had...but what about a BIALY or even a bagel??????

Three weeks of the greatest baguettes in the world will be a dream come true - but what should I do if I start jonesing for a water bagel or a bialy???????? will be staying in the 18th on Rue Mercadet

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  1. Sacha Finkelsztajn, rue des Rosiers, in the 4th, has wonderful NY-style bagels, bialys, pletzels, onion rolls, it's HEAVEN!

    1 Reply
    1. re: menton1

      I will schlept some naches for you when I go there

      zie gesundt

    2. Like most of us French who have lived in the USA, I have acquired a taste for bagels. But the fresh ones at Finkelsztajn's on the horrible tourist-infested rue des Rosiers are not as much to my liking as the imported (frozen) American ones at Lafayette Gourmet at Galeries Lafayette or Breakfast in America on the rue Malher in the 4th. For the cream cheese, you can substitute St Moret cheese spread found in most supermarkets.

      49 Replies
      1. re: Parnassien

        If you need a fix, Picard carries bagels, too -- they say "made in USA" - and if I had to guess, I'd say they were Lender's. Somewhere around 2 euros for a bag of 4.

        I agree on the St Moret or Kiri for the cream cheese.

        1. re: sunshine842

          I'm not a bagel connoisseur, I'm not even sure I had one when I went to NY (I know, shame on me...). But I have to say I find the Picard ones pretty nice, warm them in the oven and they have the nice chewiness one expects from a bagel.

          As for the cream cheese, all supermarkets now carry Philadelphia, so unless you want to taste what the poor french had to substitute for years on their cheesecakes, I'd stick with the original !

          1. re: Rio Yeti

            But I truly doubt a mere 3-week stay will make one miss bagel, no matter what kind of ethnocentric eater one is. 3 years, perhaps.

            1. re: Parigi

              I'm always seeing the sign "Bagel's" and I want to know is who this Bagel is. Is Bagel, or maybe Bagel's a she, related to Brownie and Cookie?

              1. re: vielleanglaise

                O Vieille, it's like jean's. Who the hell is this Jean whose name is in every department store?
                That's not the worst. The worst is Jame's Joyce. Am not making this up.

                1. re: vielleanglaise

                  Were I (as a psychologist) to have myself as a client (perish the thought) I would say that it is more a matter of being caught someplace for longer than a few days where fresh bagels do not exist - not being able to just turn a corner and find freshly boiled and baked golden brown treasures that have been sprinkled generously with poppy seeds - a crust that gently cracks to reveal a dense moist and chewy interior just waiting for a smear of cream cheese, some onion, and an ultra thin slice of lox - the aroma of the ovens transporting me back to my childhood when my father and I would make a pilgrimage late on a Saturday night to watch the bakers form malted dough into perfect circles, submerge them in boiling water for a final proofing and watch them emerge from the ovens - we would buy a dozen or so still warm - I would hold the open bag on my lap as we drove home, their fragrance so enticing that (of course) we had to share at least one soon after we pulled out of the bakery's parking lot -

                  1. re: mdwardmalp

                    Great story. You're forgiven. :-)
                    If ever you can't find any satisfactory bagel, will Paris's first food truck qualify as consolation prize? No it does not serve Korean taco. It serves a mean burger, according to Paris Ntoebook.

                    1. re: mdwardmalp

                      Based on that I would give up. Paris just isn't good got bagels, I wonder if it is the different Jewish heritage of th city, IIRC the Jewish population of France isn't descended from Eastern Europe (like the US), Instead French Jews have their own heritage linked directly to the migration from the middle east centuries and centuries ago. Thus the bagel heritage from Eastern Europe was never part of the food tradition of the French community.

                      My advice is to explore French baking more fully - baguettes as simply one of many magnificant breads available from a good bakery. And it is quite easy to find oven fresh bread from a good artisan baker that is just as tempting to eat before you arrive home as your childhood bagel. Some of the very rustic sourdoughs are very good - have you tried Poilane fresh from the source yet?

                      1. re: PhilD

                        I agree. Abandon the bagel search and go to Pain des Idees in the 10th and buy a slab of Pain des Amis -- it's dense, chewy, crusty and utterly delicious. You will be happy and, I imagine, willing to postpone your bagel consumption until you return to the States.

                2. re: Rio Yeti

                  I actually prefer the St Moret and Kiri (even if you don't look at the price!) - I think they're creamier and have a nicer flavor.

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    Now that Philadelphia is widely available, the price went down tremendously and is around the same as St Moret and Kiri (it used to be twice as much when one could find it only in Monop').

                    I agree with you for the flavor, St Moret and Kiri have a bit more "nuance" and are slightly more delicate and less "straight forward" than Philadelphia. Also Kiri is creamier, but I find St Moret to be thinner than Philadelphia.

                    I know this is a bagel thread and therefore those cheeses would work great, I just find that Philadelphia works better with cheesecakes recipes, especially because it is more plain, and therefore doesn't impart too much cheesiness to the cheesecake.

                    1. re: Rio Yeti

                      Philly cream cheese has gum added to the cream to enhance the schmear-ability of the product - this was the innovation (?????) that makes cream cheese "PHILLY" - so I am looking forward to trying a mild flavored cream based non-aged cheese -

                      1. re: mdwardmalp

                        I'll have a closer look next time, but I wouldn't bet my left hand that St Moret and Kiri don't have some schmearability improvement ingredient themselves... will have a look and let you know.

                        1. re: mdwardmalp

                          i read somewhere that philly cream cheese began as a botched American attempt to re-create Neufchâtel cheese ... so maybe you can Frenchify your yearnings with a smear of young creamy Neufchâtel ... ask the lady at Chez Virginie fromagerie on the rue Damrémont around the corner from your studio

                          1. re: Parnassien

                            I am from neufchâtel country (North of Normandy) and I have never seen fresh neufchatel on markets in Rouen or even in Neufchâtel-en-Bray. The cheese is always sold with some aging, at least when the white mold has begun to develop. Maybe fresh neuchatel used to be more readily available than it is now.

                            Also, true neufchatel is a very salty cheese, much saltier than anything you'd want to use for cream cheese. Hence my astonishment in the US when I discovered the local version of neuchatel. Now cheeses do evolve with time and it is quite possible that centuries ago neufchâtel wasn't so salty but I would wonder why. Saltiness is a known and appreciated feature, it conditions the desired crumbliness of the ripe cheese and its strong fumet when it is very aged, so I would guess that neufchatel was salty right from the start.

                            The Norman option for cream cheese would be fresh Brillat-Savarin, as I wrote before. Not a very traditional cheese but it was created by a Norman fromager as a reference to the various triple-crème farm cheeses (basically that's what cream cheese is) that could be found in Normandy.

                            As for Saint-Môret and Kiri, I would be surprised if they had texture agents added. Maybe for Saint-Môret which is very spreadable. But Kiri is a tad crumbly, it has a dry texture (not unlike the core of a young neuchâtel by the way).

                            The textbook Norman "triple crème", now that I think of it, can still be found in the form of "Carré Frais Gervais". It will give you an idea of what traditional triple cream cheese was like.

                            1. re: Ptipois

                              actually, I bought some Carre Frais the other day -- it's really nice. I haven't put it on a bagel (haven't been to Picard lately!) -- but it has a really rich taste and creamy texture that might top St Moret and Kiri for a bagel.

                              Now I'll have to try the Brillat-Savarin, too.

                              (and I'm thinking a little Pierre Robert or Brie Royale might be nice on a bagel, too, now that you've pointed me down that road....)

                              1. re: Ptipois

                                years ago, i had a very fresh (sans croûte) and not very salty neufchâtel in a gîte in Forges-des-Eaux ... so i assumed a young creamy version à tartiner was not unusual... it didn't excite my taste buds (until i added cherry jam).

                            2. re: mdwardmalp


                              Philadelphia doesn't have anything added in France. It's just cream, milk, salt, so is St Môret and Carré frais. However Kiri has a bunch of stuff inside... Don't know the terms in english, but here it is in french : polyphosphates (E450), citrate de sodium (E331), phosphates de calcium (E540), triacide carboxylique.

                              So maybe they changed the Philadelphia recipe for France (which would explain why it isn't quite as creamy as I remembered it to be), and it turns out that the creamier of the bunch is also the only one with all sorts of stuff inside...

                          2. re: sunshine842

                            Right, I used to miss Philadelphia from the US and I thought Saint-Môret and Kiri were only inferior substitutes - and then Philadelphia appeared on supermarket shelves here and I did not find it so exciting.
                            Saint-Môret is often used by pâtissiers for cream cheese but it is a tad too sour. Christophe Felder always uses Kiri and it's great. If you come across fresh Brillat-Savarin, that's the stuff.
                            For one thing I never missed bagels, but I do miss bialys.

                            1. re: Ptipois

                              For dheesecake (the French get excited cheesecake are like felines catnip) carrotcake, bagels, etc. - I use full fat Leader Price 'Fromage à Tartiner'. I'm sure the other supermarkets have their own versions.

                              1. re: vielleanglaise

                                interesting -- I have a few things that I buy specifically at Leader Price or Franprix because the quality is better than the national brands.

                                (scribbling notes in the margin of the screen)

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  I love the Leader Price speculoos, better than any "artisanal" brand/product that I have tasted.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    You should start a post about that, although it would mostly be of interest for french residents I think it's a really interesting topic!

                        2. re: Parnassien

                          It's hard to believe that a frozen bagel could even approach a fresh-baked one-- I know on the East Coast of the US bagel shops are ubiquitous so we are spoiled, and the frozen ones taste like shoe leather.

                          1. re: menton1

                            but if you're a working stiff, then Saturday is your only day to trek down to Rue des Rosiers and...yeah, that ain't gonna work.

                            So frozen it is...

                            By the way -- drove past a McDo today and they are introducing burgers served on bagels. Will be interesting to see how that goes.... (Big signs out front, and I had to stop at the traffic light on that corner, so had time to read them -- I didn't go in!)

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              There are only 2 or max 3 meal opportunities in one's waking day-- to spend one of those on a McDo's is absolutely unthinkable to me, especially in a place like Paris! There HAS to be a better alternative!

                              1. re: menton1

                                It's all in the mind's eye. I find jonesing/searching for/consuming a bagel in the same vein as a McDo stop or a search for marshmallow whip. It's all, I guess, what floats your boat. Your alternative will not be his alternative nor, maybe, mine. Viva la difference!

                                1. re: mangeur

                                  No, monsieur/madame, it's VIVE la différence!!! :)

                                2. re: menton1

                                  I try to avoid it, but as a colleague told me, McDo is like death - you find yourself there eventually....

                                  As far as mangeur's comment -- it's one thing to jones something when you're on vacation -- it's a whole different issue when you're living in a faraway place and have a hankering for something you grew up with.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    Thank god I grew up with wonton soup and not McDo.

                                    1. re: Parigi

                                      you will forever be our wonton woman

                                      some French McDo's also sell macaroons ... we French know how fight back, you know

                                      1. re: Parigi

                                        Now, wonton soup is something I love in Paris. I get it at New Nouillaville. I can't say it's better than any Chinese restaurant in the US northwest where I mostly live, because I stopped ordering it decades ago. I imagine some of the great Chinese restaurants in Vancouver, BC do it very well also. In any case, I love the NN version. Also their Lo Bak Ko (fried turnip cakes).

                                        Getting back to bagels, if you follow a thread in the Seattle forum, you'd see there is no agreement on what constitutes a great bagel. There are many commentators who think they know, because of visiting or growing up in NYC. But then they disagree widely and passionately.

                                        When I lived in Paris full time I occasionally craved a bagel. For a month here, I can do without.

                                        I will add some good news for bagel and lox addicts. Starting a year or so ago (as far as I noticed), it became possible to find smoked wild salmon. I mean really wild, not what in Europe is called "wild." It appeared then at Monoprix.

                                        Final question for Parigi: If not McDo, where can one stop to pee on the Champs d'Elysee?

                                        1. re: RandyB

                                          "Lox", as in Bagel and lox, is salted, not smoked.

                                          1. re: vielleanglaise

                                            Actually, lox is cold smoked. And hot smoked salmon is also brined.

                                            What one often sees nowadays is a mixing up of names. What you or I call lox is often packaged as smoked salmon, or even "lox style smoked salmon."

                                            I think that gravlax is not even cold-smoked, but I'm not sure about that.

                                            I like traditional, Indian style hot smoked salmon on cream cheese and a bagel myself, but do occasionally crave lox as well. Then I buy "smoked salmon trimmings" at Whole Foods. This is what my grandmother used to buy when it was just family, not company, for brunch. Only there in Brooklyn it was called lox trimmings.

                                              1. re: vielleanglaise

                                                But gravlax ain't lox. It's sum forrin stuf.

                                              2. re: RandyB

                                                I remember lox from NYC as lightly smoked (cold-smoked) salmon, generally from Nova Scotia. It is possible that "lox-style" means lightly salted, since I remember that lox was never very saline as smoked salmons go.
                                                Gravlax or gravad lax is salt-and-sugar cured salmon, flavored with dill and pepper, never smoked.
                                                Hot-smoked salmon is virtually inexistent in France. When you hear "saumon fumé", it's always cold-smoked.
                                                And now I miss a couple of nice lox slices on a thick layer of cream cheese on a fresh, lightly toasted bialy... (never a bagel for me).

                                                1. re: Ptipois

                                                  Ptipois, I have some sad news for you. I visited Nova Scotia for the first time 20+ years ago. I was really eager to have "local" Nova. It turned out that there was no local salmon in Nova Scotia and had not been in years. The fishery was wiped out. All I could find was lox (using the term broadly) that was farm-raised Atlantic salmon, not even locally farm raised.

                                                  Where I grew up in NYC, Nova lox (again, with name variations) meant it was less salty than "belly" lox. What the actual difference was I don't know. Both had some brining before cold smoking. It was also called smoked salmon, but was never hot smoked.

                                                  On the West Coast, smoked salmon traditionally meant hot smoked. But in practice, I've seen many packages of what I'd call lox labeled as smoked salmon. Sometimes it's called "lox style." That seems to depend on the vendor.

                                                  You're right about not finding real smoked salmon in Paris. It is the one thing I always bring with me to share with friends here. And it's always wild. As the bumper sticker says: "Friends don't let friends eat farmed salmon."

                                                  What is called "wild" salmon in Europe is typically hatchery raised and let out to sea to grow. We have wars, treaty fights, and court battles over that practice in the Pacific Northwest, for economic, political, and biological reasons that are off topic.

                                                  1. re: RandyB

                                                    Randy - so what is the wild Scottish salmon that is and carved to order from places like Poisonerie du Bac (sp). To me it is very high quality and definitely has the textural qualities if a wild fish. It is far different to the packaged farmed salmon that is generally available in supermarkets.

                                                    For my taste it is very fine fish and worth seeking out and for my money it is worth the money, but I have never really tried to get it from the North West. Is this a place in the 17eme or do you have a good place outside the Periphique? I assume it is cheaper in this area of Paris....?

                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                      There is a small, supposedly wild fishery still alive in Scotland. It is in extreme peril from decimated stocks and the overwhelming size of the Scottish farmed salmon industry. Farmed salmon invariably escape and carry their diseases with them. Some may interbreed with wild stock, thereby depleting them even further.

                                                      The other problem is that fish is commonly mislabeled. DNA testing has shown 20-30% of fish sold in US markets is mislabeled. This includes some of the fanciest luxury markets in places like NYC.

                                                      I don't know the percentages in France. I did personally discover mislabeled oysters at a market last year. In that case, and virtually all other mislabeling, it is a cheaper variety mislabeled as a more expensive one.

                                                      My understanding had been that the Scottish wild salmon was mainly hatchery raised but then released into the wild. I can't verify this, so I will retract my comment in a post above as, for now at least, unfounded.

                                                      What is certain is that Scottish salmon is Atlantic salmon. Many consider this to be more like trout than the salmon we get in the Pacific Northwest. It can be an excellent fish and worth the price. But it's flavor is different from, and milder than, the Pacific species. If you ever get the chance to try some Chinook (king) or Sockeye from Alaska, you will see what I mean. There is also Coho (silver). Cheaper varieties are net caught rather than line caught and typically canned.

                                                      I say from Alaska not because it is necessarily better than from British Columbia, but because it is certainly wild. Alaska protects its native fisheries with a complete ban on salmon farming.

                                                      1. re: RandyB

                                                        Randy, clearly you have preference for your pacific salmon but I am certain others have preference for atlantic. Isn't it just a question of individual taste and maybe heritage?

                                                        I have eaten a lot of English, Scottish and Irish smoked salmon over the years and IMO there is definitely a superior product that is available and is called wild. It tastes good to me but I can't vouch for its DNA profile.

                                                        Maybe I am being conned but is it a con if I think it is worth it for the taste and texture? And I did find the hand carved ( to order) salmon in some Paris fish shops to be very good.

                                                        1. re: PhilD

                                                          I agree totally with you Phil. Personal preferences in taste and texture, not "better." If there were much wild Atlantic salmon left, I'd seek it out, too, when not near home.

                                                          More important, I'm not suggesting you've been conned. That is, at least not any more so than in the 20-30% of mismarked fish that cons us all. Nothing to do with our salmon discussion. That's one reason for buying whole fish you can see before filetting, but it doesn't help in restaurants.

                                                          My problem is with farmed salmon. It has less taste, softer texture, and does serious damage to wild fisheries. The vast majority of salmon sold is farmed now. On the latter point alone, I try to avoid it regardless of taste. I might add that in numerous blind tastings, amateurs and professionals chose wild salmon over farmed in a high percentage.

                                                          1. re: RandyB

                                                            It would be interesting to know if the Poisonnerie du Bac still has there salmon, IIRC it was slightly brown rather than garish pink and had fine texture. In Paris in a weeks time so I will check it out.

                                                  2. re: Ptipois

                                                    And here is an example of the ambiguity I am talking about when it comes to smoked salmon and lox. The packaging says it's wild smoked sockeye salmon. "Nova lox" only appears on the website.

                                              3. re: RandyB

                                                If you are French or if you feel fully integrated, you pee on the roadside.
                                                If not, that's where McDo comes in !

                                                1. re: Parigi

                                                  You can't get more Parisian than McDo, even for coffee and ice cream...

                                                2. re: RandyB

                                                  For wonderful wonton soup in Paris, head for the 13th: Likafo, Fleurs de Mai and the little-known Hao Hao make beautiful versions of the recipe. All on avenue de Choisy.

                                    2. Even in New York City, it's hard to find an excellent bagel. Only a handful truly delicious specimens exist, and in Manhattan, perhaps only one or two.

                                      1. walked by a place today called the great american or great new york bagel on rue brey a few doors off wagram near etoile. from the window the bagels looked right but i did not go in and i admit i really do not know what a so called "great' bagel is.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: jock

                                          Same here. But I know what a great bialy is. I heard bialys were notoriously difficult to make right. I saw a recipe and found it rather complicated, did not dare to try it because failed bialys would be so depressing.

                                        2. I hosted French exchange students in high school, one of whom was APPALLED at our bagels (and I lived in NJ at the time, and we had pretty decent bagels). It seems that she had never seen one before in her life...

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: PotatoPuff

                                            A Chinese dissident, in NY for a speaking engagement, spit out the English muffin that we recommended as the "best of western breakfasts". He said that it was the kind of thing that "they" had tried to make him eat in jail.