Archive for the 'Jewish' Category

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Montréal Bagel Tour: The Original Fairmount Bagel Bakery and St. Viateur Bagel

Montreal Bagels: St. Viateur and Fairmount

I learned during my stay in Montréal that the locals are quite proud of their bagels. The Jewish immigrants who came to the city from Eastern Europe before and after World War II brought with them a distinct tradition of bagel making that continues today.

Montréal-style bagels are hand-rolled, boiled in honey-infused water, and baked in wood-fired ovens. In contrast to their American counterparts, the ones in Montréal are smaller, sweeter, and denser, with a crisp and smokey crust.

Montreal Bagels: St. Viateur and Fairmount

Since two of the city’s most famous bagel shops are located in the same Mile End neighborhood, The Astronomer and I, along with our lovely friend Nina, set out on a bagel tasting. Our first stop was at The Original Fairmount Bagel Bakery. Opened in 1919 by Isadore Shlafman, Fairmount is the city’s very first bagel bakery.

Montreal Bagels: St. Viateur and Fairmount

The moment we stepped into the shop, we caught sight of a baker transferring a batch of freshly baked bagels from the oven to a plastic bin using a long wooden slat. The man’s swift motion ensured that all of the bagels ended up in the bin and none on the floor.

Continue reading ‘Montréal Bagel Tour: The Original Fairmount Bagel Bakery and St. Viateur Bagel’

Schwartz’s Montréal Hebrew Delicatessen – Montréal

Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen -  Montréal

Besides poutine, the thing to eat while in Montréal is smoked meat. There are a handful of purveyors around town, but Schwartz’s Montréal Hebrew Delicatessen is the most well known and highly regarded.

The restaurant was opened in 1928 by a Jewish immigrant from Romania named Reuben Schwartz. The smoked meat is prepared using a secret blend of herbs and spices and marinated for ten days. Schwartz’s has employed the same recipe and techniques for over 80 years and takes great pride in serving a preservative-free product.

Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen -  Montréal

The Astronomer and I, along with our friends Nina, Linda, and Dan, made our way here for lunch on our first full day in the city. Even though we arrived well past lunchtime, there was still quite a lengthy line outside the restaurant. After waiting for about 30 minutes, we were finally ushered in.

Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen -  Montréal

Due to the restaurant’s limited space and immense popularity, smaller parties are usually seated with strangers along the long narrow tables that occupy the room. Our group was large enough this afternoon to merit our own domain.

Continue reading ‘Schwartz’s Montréal Hebrew Delicatessen – Montréal’

Mushroom Barley Soup


Continuing on my streak of effortless wedding-planning-friendly meals, I prepared a big ‘ol pot of Mushroom Barley Soup to carry me through the week. The Astronomer isn’t too keen on either portobellos or buttons, so it’s been up to me and my random weeknight dinner guests to plow through this monster serving of fungi goodness. The best part of the soup is its genuinely earthy flavor—the taste of mushroom is bold and unmistakable. I also appreciate how the soup is perfectly hearty, thanks to two varieties of mushrooms and toothy grains of barley, without being heavy.

The original recipe calls for a combination of cremini and portobello mushrooms. However, if cremini or portobello are unavailable, white button mushrooms can be substituted. I highly recommend serving this soup with toasty slices of cheesy garlic bread for crunch and richness.

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • 1 pound portobello mushrooms, stempped and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • Salt
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped medium
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 9 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • Pepper


Melt the better in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.


Stir in the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the mushrooms have softened and browned, 10-15 minutes.


Stir in the carrots and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the broth, barley, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until the barley is tender, about 50 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.


Recipe from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

Russ and Daughters – New York City


My first mission during a recent week-long stay in New York City was to get my grubby little hands on some proper bagels, lox, and cream cheese, preferably all three smooshed together in sandwich form. There’s something about the combination of hearty carbohydrates paired with creamy fat and salty protein that I find immensely satisfying. I’d eat these three items every morning if I could.


Russ and Daughters has been perfecting the art of Jewish appetizing in Manhattan’s Lower East Side since 1914. Among American Jews residing in New York City, “appetizing” is used as a noun by itself to refer to the foods eaten with bagels.


The small, standing room only shop sells chocolates and baked goods in addition to an eye-catching array of dairy and “pareve” (neither dairy nor meat) appetizing. While I was taken aback by the fluorescent quality of the fish roe, The Astronomer was surprised by the availability of tofu-based cream cheeses. The air was thick with the wonderful smell of smoked fish; I wanted to eat everything in sight.


On our first visit to Russ and Daughters, The Astronomer and I shared a plain bagel with Norwegian salmon, capers, and a schmear of decadent caviar cream cheese ($9.45). The caviar-laden spread, which cost us two extra bucks, earned its keep with each savory pop. The characteristically chewy bagel matched the filling in greatness.


On trip number two to Russ and Daughters the following day, The Astronomer and I shared an everything bagel with lox cream cheese ($3.45). ‘Tis impossible to go wrong with smoked salmon and cream cheese married into one spread. Impossible.

On my short list of perfect meals, the Jewish-American triple threat of smoked fish, bagels, and cream cheese ranks near the top. Truly, only a superb Asian noodle soup and a well-crafted banh mi can dare to compete with this thoroughly delicious package.

Russ and Daughters
179 East Houston Street
New York, NY 10002
Phone: 212-475-4880

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