Bagels: worth the dough

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author: quinn bell | a&c  writer

yummy, yummy bagels / Pixabay

Not to be confused with beagles.

My relationship with bagels is a problematic long-distance love affair. With nowhere in Saskatchewan to find a fresh and authentic Montreal-style bagel, when that irresistible craving arises, I’m left with few options. When finally we’re reunited after months of spartan living, I’m an overindulgent mess. 

I’ve tried filling that bagel-shaped hole with donuts before – close, right? We do have some great donut places in the city, but donuts just aren’t bagels (surprise). Ask Reddit where to go to find a good bagel experience in Regina and you’ll be sent to 13th Ave. Safeway. They have a bakery, I guess, but eating a giant, mushy dough-ring when what you need is a warm Montreal-style bagel is a bit like drinking cold sand in the heat of summer. 

Open only since summer 2017, Regina has but one viable option for good bagels: Aleana Young’s Takeaway Gourmet on Robinson. Every Thursday morning, amazingly, you can buy real bagels shipped straight from St. Viateur in Montreal. This is really great – honestly, I’m thrilled! But this relationship is still long-distance. You have to wait for a scheduled Skype session with your sweetheart, and even then, the WIFI doesn’t quite work and there’s a lag. You have to wait until Thursday morning to get your bagel fix, and they aren’t quite fresh. You may get a taste of bagel, he might tell you he loves you over the phone, but it can never be the same as that warm, on-demand hug. 

That is, truly, one of the best parts of a good bagel shop: it’s open 24/7. This is the case for St. Viateur, as well as for Kettleman’s Bagels in Ottawa. They are also open 365 days of the year. So much for waiting until Thursday – you can indulge in bagels at any time, on any occasion. Need a place to go for the holidays? You’ve got Christmas bagels. Just had a rough exam? Consolation bagels. Having a night out? Drunk bagels! It really doesn’t matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it at a bagel shop. 

Head over to a real bagel place and you’ll get to enjoy the full experience: these shops put on a show. Notice the bakers rolling out the dough, boiling the bagels, and tossing them into the fire oven to bake. You get to take in all the great smells and taste the wonderful flavours. Walk by a shop at any time of day and catch a whiff of the freshly baked flavour: poppy-seed, sesame, lemon & cranberry, chocolate, herb and cheese, blueberry, and more. Top your bagel with cream cheese, smoked fish, fruit jams, peppers, or just plain butter. I can’t get enough. 

Now, I find myself sitting in the airport. I’ve been staring at my bag for the last twenty or so minutes, cursing myself. See, I ran out of time before my flight and so wasn’t able to stop at Kettleman’s. My suitcase should be stuffed with fresh bagels right now, sweating from the hot dough that’s squished inside. Maybe it’s a good thing – after all, I’ve indulged enough this week that I’m the sweaty bag stuffed with bagels. Still, it would have been nice to bring a few home. 

I take comfort in knowing that these bagel shops aren’t going anywhere, no matter how many slip-ups I have eating donuts or Safeway baking in my moments of weakness. Until we meet again, toasted sesame with dill cream cheese… until we meet again. 

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