so.. i attend the university of Vermont. i decided i wanted a bagel, and well Vermont’s bagels just don’t do it for me. in my past, i have enjoyed everything bagels, but recently i have “ventured out” and been kinda obsessed with sesame bagels…. so i thought what better idea on a lovely Saturday than to drive 2 hours alone to Montreal and get a world famous bagel. after all, Montreal is known for their bagels. this city is known for having the best bagels in the world. and what other place to purchase the famous Montreal bagel other than the one and only St. Viateur Bagel Shop located on 263 Rue Saint Viateur O, Montréal, QC H2V 1Y1, Canada.
this famous bagel shop has been open since 1957……. 1957! it is legendary. it has been around for decades and decades in the same location, serving the same phenomenal bagels. St. Viateur Bagel Shop is a family business that has been around for the past 60 years. there must be some fine history behind this epic bread creation……..
turns out, founder Myer Lewkowicz arrived in Canada in 1953. he grew up in a poor, jewish family outside of Poland- and knew the feeling of hunger. it wasn’t until 1952 that he was discovered by Jewish Immigration Aid Services of Canada. He had been working and living in Germany after the war but when JIAS found him, he was sent to Montreal. this was just a stepping stone of what would turn into the most famous bagel destination in the world. here he worked at Hyman Seligman’s Montreal Bagel Bakery on St-Laurent. later on, in 1957, he decided to take a big risk. after mastering the craft of bagel making, he started his very own bagel place.
over the years, many other bagel geniuses helped out with the bagel shop and took control over the business. but, enough with the history- the point is, this **jawn** (philly term meaning basically anything) has not only been around, but has been prospering for a long, long time. the reputation of these bagels are high – up there in the sky. and there are reasons for this- the bagels are honestly delicious, and unique.
**************necessary word to be familiar with:
these bagels have been made the same way since 1957. that is pretty f***ing lit. the fact that the same bagel making routine and process has been upheld for all of these years proves that their bagels are one of a kind. and that they are loved and appreciated by people all over the world who come to visit this notable shop.
as taken directly off the website, “each bagel is hand-rolled, boiled in honey water, and cooked in a wood fired oven that was designed to both cook and flavour the bagel. What comes out of this process is a chewy, slightly sweet bagel that is incomparable to any other bagel being made today.”
quote from website: (these bagels), “are the ones your grandparents enjoyed made with ingredients your children can read”
aka- these bagels are saturated with tradition and good quality ingredients.
okay back to the story. i drove two hours, alone, from uvm to Montreal, just to try these world famous bagels. i turned the corner and saw an old timey looking sign. as soon as i saw the sign, my face lit up. i was just excited- simple as that. these things are exciting. small things, it’s good to care. it’s good to support. so i walked up, and opened the door.
the shop is intimate- not too big, but big enough. it’s simple and historic. authenticity rings a bell.
well, i walked inside and asked for a dozen sesame bagels- after all, i had to bring some back for my friends at college. i paid for my 12 bagels and plain philadelphia cream cheese. i could’ve gone a more interesting route- with chive or strawberry cream cheese and poppyseed or rosemary and sea salt bagels. but i wanted to stay simple. after i purchased everything i walked into the corner of the shop. there was one tiny table- not even really a table. i would call it a surface. the only thing on the surface was seeds. sesame, poppy, salt, pepper, whatever else you could think of- all possible bagel remnants were clustered in piles on this metal surface. what stood next to these crumbs were a few hungry, yet satisfied customers standing up and eating their bagels in delight. i was one of them.
as i said earlier, i went alone. so, what better thing to do than to make some new friends. i ended up talking to a woman and man- possibly a couple, who both had just flown in from Michigan and were staying the week in Old Montreal. i told them my story of how i ended up at St. Viateur Bagel Shop and we shared some laughs. it’s funny, the conversation started with me making a comment about the seeds being all over this surface.
there is something special about food- it really does bring people together. here i was, an 18 year old freshman at college talking to a 31 year old man and his possible girlfriend/ wife/friend/idk, doesn’t matter. anyways, i love interactions with others. especially funny ones, random ones, spontaneous convos or curious glances across a room. it’s all humorous to me. a stranger is just a long lost friend.
anyways, we continued to talk and eat. eating and talking. that was that. it was a good time.
but enough with the broad story line…. what the hell did this bagel even taste like… and did it fulfill my hopes??????
first off, i didn’t have expectations at least not consciously. in general, i try not to think about things until i’m living them. i want to experience. then i can observe each moment and overanalyze all occurring events afterwards. it’s a great algorithm, believe me.
i took my first bite. it was awesome. it truly wasn’t like any other bagel i have ever had. and i have had a lot of bagels. i’m Jewish and grew up outside of Philadelphia having lox (smoked salmon) and bagels with my family all the time. i’ve been to several Jewish delis and my dad has even made homemade bagels. but i had never had one like this.
as you can tell from the picture above, these bagels are fresh. they are literally being made by the second. the authenticity of this place is through the roof. if you look closely, you can see that these bagels aren’t monotonous. they aren’t the same. they aren’t a perfect circle with a hole in the middle. they are all unique and different. even out of the dozen bagels i got, not one looked the exact same as the other.
i bit in and the flavor was irresistible. the combination of the savory yet simple sesame taste with a little bit of honey in the bread was the ultimate balance. the bread consistency was thick and chewy. this chewy texture combined with the crunchiness of the sesame seeds worked so well together. a dynamic duo. some parts of the bagel were more golden brown than others because different parts of the bagel were cooked longer.
quality picture above ^^^^^^wow. a little bit of cream cheese goes a long way. you don’t need too much, just a tad. and dip the bagel right in there- there’s no slicing of these bagels and spreading of cream cheese. no utensils necessary, just go for it.
to be honest, this bagel is worth the drive. the experience is always worth it. i highly recommend you go out and visit St. Viateur Bagel Shop. try it out for yourself. bring some home for your loved ones or the next person you see on the street of your favorite city. why not?
i’ll be back soon.