My introduction to bagels was not a good one. Nineteen years ago, I was pregnant with Sam and bagels were just starting to make an appearance in the Philippines. One weekday, feeling stifled in the office, I walked to nearby Greenbelt for air. There was a bagel stand, I ordered one and I ate what I thought was the most terrible bread I’ve ever had in my entire life — dry and tough and totally tasteless.
Of course, it’s possible that my taste buds weren’t working in a normal way because my hormones were all awry from my pregnancy but I wouldn’t eat another bagel until Sam was eighteen years old. Sam picked up a bag of bagels with blueberries from S&R one time but forgot to bring it to the condo. Fearing the bread would go stale, Speedy and I ate them. With what, I can’t recall. I do remember though that the blueberry bagels were so very, very good.
I guess eighteen years has made a lot of difference in the bagel-making process in this country. These days, good bakeries sell delicious bagels — dense and chewy inside, crisp outside and very tasty. They come in so many varieties too. But despite that positive encounter with bagels, I still didn’t develop the habit of actually choosing to buy them. I’m more enamored of country breads and flat breads.
Then, a couple of nights ago, there was an episode of Glutton for Punishment where Bob Blumer was learning how to make bagels in a bakery in his old hometown of Montreal. It was all so contrived, I’m sure he knew how to make bagels but pretended to be a klutz for the sake of TV entertainment.
There was, however, one part of the episode that really caught my attention. Blumer was visiting a store that specialized in smoked salmon and he had his smoked salmon as a sandwich filling. Bagels were split, cream cheese was spread on the bottom halves, topped generously with slices of smoked salmon, garnished with onion rings then covered with the the top halves of the bagel.
I was totally smitten. So smitten that I bought bagels the next day and entertained some very ambitious thoughts of learning to make bagels at home. But that’s in the future. For now, let me share with you how I replicated those smoked salmon and cream cheese filled bagels that Bob Blumer had in Montreal.
Whole wheat bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon
- 2 whole wheat bagels
- 4 tablespoons cream cheese
- 50 grams smoked salmon thinly sliced
- 1 small onion thinly sliced into rings
- Split the bagels in half horizontally and toast them lightly. Or toast them until well-browned. It works either way. All a matter of how you like your toast. But don't skip the toasting altogether. Bagel just doesn't seem to taste right unless toasted.
- Spread cream cheese very generously on the bottom halves.
- Next, pile on the slices of smoked salmon. Cover the entire bottom half of the bagels. Overhangs are encouraged.
- Then, top the smoked salmon with thinly sliced onion rings.
- Cover the filling with the top halves of the bagels and serve. These sandwiches are filling enough for a light lunch or dinner. And they are so very delicious.