Thing #26 – Bagels

There wasn’t a day in Quebec where we didn’t eat french fries for at least one meal. And I indulged in so many buttery pastries that I had to delete some of my photos because my greasy fingerprints made the camera lens too blurry.

But this is what vacation is for. Tasting all the flavors, walking all the miles and sleeping all the hours without setting an alarm. (I can easily go uninterrupted for 11 hours.)

It’s no secret that the province of Quebec has the charm of Europe with a fraction of the travel time. It’s one of the reasons we visited. But more importantly, I went for the bagels.

There’s a longstanding rivalry between New York and Montreal bagels. Moreso, there’s a rivalry between two bagel shops in Montreal. We hit up Fairmount and St. Viateur back-to-back on Thursday morning to see what the fuss was about.

Both stores were small and understated. Get in, get bagels, leave. Maybe they have napkins, maybe not. This is because Montreal bagels are all about the bagel. Especially the sesame and poppy bagels with heavy, impeccable seed distribution. Cream cheese is an afterthought, and honestly seems like an insult.

We had sesame bagels from both places. Both equally hot and fresh. They were notably ring-shaped, with a large center hole. “Duh Jenna, they’re bagels.” But these were remarkably ring-shaped. You could use them to play ring toss in a pinch. New York bagels have a more bloated center and are less suitable for yard games.

However, one area where New York bagels excel is in their cream cheese selection and presentation. The gorgeous heaping piles of cream cheese at bagel shops ranks among my top three reasons to visit NYC.

Montreal bagels have a sweeter, slightly flat flavor, but the seeds elevate the taste. Interestingly, the shape also influenced the taste. Because they were more slender, you get more seed and crust distribution per bite – which altered the flavors.

I did enjoy St Viateur’s bagel slightly more than Fairmount, but I’d be willing to go back and retaste them all. In fact, I’d go back to Montreal even if it weren’t for the bagels. I loved the eclectic vibe and want to return so I can keep eating and drinking my way through all the quaint neighborhoods.

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