Montreal bagels have a long and fascinating history that dates back to the early 20th century. Unlike their New York counterparts, Montreal bagels have a unique flavor and texture that is loved by locals and visitors alike. The story of Montreal bagels begins with the influx of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, particularly from Poland and Romania. These immigrants brought with them their traditional bagel-making techniques and recipes, which they adapted to their new surroundings in Montreal.
One of the key elements that sets Montreal bagels apart is the wood-fired baking process. The bagels are hand-rolled, boiled in honey-infused water, and then baked in a wood-burning oven. This method gives the bagels a slightly sweet and smoky flavor, while also creating a chewy texture on the inside and a crisp exterior. The wood-fired ovens have been a staple of Montreal bagel shops for generations, and their use is considered an important part of preserving the tradition and authenticity of these beloved baked goods.
Montreal bagels are renowned for their distinct characteristics that set them apart from any other type of bagel in the world. Firstly, their unique shape is a defining feature. Unlike the traditional round shape of American bagels, Montreal bagels are hand-rolled into a more elongated shape, resembling a small tire or a figure-eight. This shape not only allows for an evenly baked bagel, but also gives it a satisfying chewiness and slightly denser texture.
Another distinctive characteristic of Montreal bagels is their method of preparation. While many bagels are boiled before being baked, Montreal bagels are boiled in honey-infused water, which imparts a subtle and slightly sweet flavor to the dough. This step in the preparation process also gives the bagels a glossy and shiny exterior, enhancing their overall aesthetic appeal. Additionally, Montreal bagels are baked in wood-fired ovens, which gives them a subtly smoky and charred flavor that is simply irresistible. The combination of the honey-infused water and wood-fired baking creates a unique and delectable taste that is unmistakably Montreal.
When it comes to the best Montreal bagel shops, there are two iconic establishments that are constantly vying for the title: St-Viateur and Fairmount Bagel. Both of these bagel shops have been serving up their renowned creations for over half a century, and have become beloved institutions in the city.
St-Viateur Bagel is known for its rustic charm and old-world feel. Walking into the shop, you are immediately greeted with the aroma of freshly baked bagels and a bustling atmosphere. The bagels themselves are distinctive with their slightly denser texture and larger size. The classic sesame seed bagel is a must-try, with its perfect balance of chewiness and crispness. On the other hand, Fairmount Bagel has a different ambiance, with its traditional wood-fired oven and bustling open kitchen. The bagels here are smaller and slightly sweeter, with a thinner crust and a perfectly airy interior. The all-dressed bagel, topped with a mix of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, garlic, and onion, is a signature favorite among locals and visitors alike. Whether you prefer the rustic charm of St-Viateur or the traditional wood-fired perfection of Fairmount, both of these bagel shops will satisfy your cravings and leave you wanting more.
Mixing the dough is the first step in the process of making Montreal bagels. Unlike their New York counterparts, Montreal bagels are made with a slightly sweeter dough that includes ingredients like sugar, eggs, and honey. The dough is prepared by combining these ingredients with flour, water, and yeast. It is then kneaded until it reaches the right consistency – smooth, elastic, and slightly sticky. This step is crucial in ensuring that the bagels have the perfect texture and chewiness that they are known for.
Once the dough is ready, it is divided into individual portions and shaped into rings. Traditionally, each ring is hand-rolled to create a uniform thickness and size. This process requires skill and experience to achieve the desired shape – a distinctive characteristic of Montreal bagels. After shaping, the bagels are allowed to rest and rise for a short period of time before they are ready for the next step in the process. This resting period helps develop the flavors and texture of the bagels, resulting in a delicious end product.
Montreal bagels, with their unique chewy texture and slightly sweet flavor, lend themselves well to a variety of toppings and spreads. One of the most iconic combinations is the classic cream cheese and smoked salmon. The smooth and creamy cream cheese provides a perfect balance to the salty and smoky salmon, creating a delicious symphony of flavors. The combination is often enhanced with the addition of thinly sliced red onions and capers, which add a refreshing and tangy bite to each bite. This classic topping is a staple in many Montreal bagel shops and is loved by locals and visitors alike.
Another popular topping for Montreal bagels is the beloved combination of butter and maple syrup. The rich and creamy butter pairs perfectly with the sweet and slightly earthy flavors of maple syrup. This combination is a celebration of the distinctive Canadian flavor and is a favorite among those with a sweet tooth. Whether enjoyed as a breakfast treat or as a snack, the butter and maple syrup topping adds a delightful indulgence to every bite of a Montreal bagel.
From the classic cream cheese and smoked salmon to the delightful butter and maple syrup, the toppings and spreads for Montreal bagels are as diverse as the city itself. Whether you prefer savory or sweet, there is a combination for everyone to enjoy. So, why not give in to your cravings and explore the delightful world of Montreal bagel toppings and spreads?
St-Viateur and Fairmount Bagel are two iconic establishments in the city of Montreal, known for their mouthwatering bagels. Both have a loyal following and are constantly in competition to win over customers with their unique offerings. St-Viateur Bagel, located in the vibrant Mile End neighborhood, has been serving their delectable bagels since 1957. Their bagels are hand-rolled, boiled in honey water, and baked in a wood-fired oven, giving them a slightly sweet and chewy texture. The signature sesame seed coating adds a delightful crunch to every bite. St-Viateur Bagel draws long lines of people eager to experience the taste that has become synonymous with the city's culinary identity.
On the other hand, Fairmount Bagel has been a neighborhood institution since 1919, making it the longest-running bagel bakery in Montreal. Fairmount Bagel uses a slightly different recipe, where their bagels are hand-rolled, boiled in water infused with a touch of honey, and then baked in a wood-burning oven. This baking method results in a slightly denser texture and a more pronounced chewiness, creating a unique experience for bagel connoisseurs. Fairmount Bagel also offers a variety of flavors, including poppy seed, all-dressed, and even chocolate chip, providing a wider range of options for those seeking something different. Whether you choose St-Viateur or Fairmount Bagel, you can be sure that you are indulging in a Montreal delicacy that has stood the test of time.