Friday, February 11, 2011

Swedish food: The bagel drama continues

I admit – I am a total bagel snob. I grew up in the NYC suburbs (aka New Jersey) and bagels were a local delicacy. Oh how I miss curling up on a Sunday morning with the New York Times (I'm a Magazine, Book Review, Style kind of girl) and a plain bagel with a smear (that's a light swipe of cream cheese for you non-New York area natives).

When I moved out of the NYC area, I gave up bagels first. Because, lets face it, an Upstate New York bagel just doesn't cut it, and a California bagel? Why bother.

But man – I miss bagels. And so, yes, now and then, here in Sweden I try a bagel or two. I've even made my own. And they weren't half bad (mostly because it was my own blood, sweat and tears).

The Swedish idea of a bagel is generally a roll with a hole poked in the middle. Not bad if you like rolls, terrible if you like rolls, but crave a bagel.

Then I discovered the Espresso House bagels. Not half bad. They have a good solid consistency, they just lack the nice solid crustyness of a great NYC bagel. So occasionally I grab one with cream cheese for lunch. Yes, I lament that the smear is more than a smear but not quite a full serving of Cream Cheese. And that they insist on making them all whole-wheat and add a salad. But I can deal, because this ain't New York.

But then today happened – and I had a great laugh – because it was a fabulous addition to my ongoing bagel dramas.

I order a bagel at Espresso House.

“I have to warm it up for you, it will just take a minute”

(Previously at EH they have asked me if I wanted my bagel warmed and I always have declined. I cannot for the life of me imagine why you would want to warm a bagel already filled with CC and trimmings. I toast my bagels when they are getting a bit stale – but otherwise, nah- an always sans fillings)

“No thanks, I'll take it as is”

“But you cannot, it must be warmed, this bagel is only half done”

“I had the exact same thing last week and they said it was fine”

“Well, it should be warmed up.”

“OK, I guess I will try this bagel 'Swedish style'” (and I meant this, too – I do understand that things in Sweden are different, and not American – and despite my bitching on this blog – I do appreciate that the world is not the same all over)

“Oh no, this is how they do it in New York City”

“Excuse me?”

“Yes, this is how they serve bagels in NYC.”

“I see, have you ever been to NYC?”

“I have relatives in NYC”

“Good for you, but you see, I grew up there. And I have never had what you are describing to me.”

“Well, this is how they do it.”

I feel the bagel and it is cold. I comment on that. “I see, so are you willing to give in and let me heat it for you now?”

“Um, no – thanks.”

Then I came home and told the story to the 4 guests from Manhattan staying in my house. We all had a good laugh. No one had ever had a reheated warmed up cream cheese filled bagel.

The hunt for a good bagel is at least an amusing past time.


  1. I had no idea about Espresso House having bagels! I checked and there is one in my city! I will go ASAP!

  2. Now I have never had a real Bagle from NY but still I know that you do not reheat a bagle with cream cheese on. That sounds real weird. Yeah maybe toast a bagle but once you put creme cheese on it it is never ever reaheated (not even in the deep South of Albama). I think they should go to a bagle course those people working at Espresso House. I was wishing that would be a good place to get a good bagle here in Stockholm. So Espresso House is so far the best place?
    Have a nice weekend.

  3. I know what you mean! There is a COOP grocery near us that has big posters of delicious-looking bagels, but they *don't* actually sell them. It's cruel.

    I can't say from experience, since I haven't tried it yet, but there is a small chain of bagel shops in Stockholm:

    They just opened a new one on Kungsgatan that looked *very* promising.

  4. I searched all over my area for bagels yetserday and i couldn't find a REAL bagel :(

    The other day my mother-in-law asked me what a bagel is and i spent minutes trying to explain it and she kept mistaking it for "the roll with a hole" lol

  5. I see it's an old post but the drama continues (for me anyway) I am longing for a normal bagel place... Waynes Coffee used to roast bagels and serve it with rest of the stuff on the side. Now they also switched to the "panini"-style bagels as I call them. Disgusting.
    By any change, did you find any good bagel place? grateful in advance , Marina

  6. Ha, Marina, sadly the debate does continue and there is no end in sight. I have not found anything worth writing about since, so I have been avoiding bagels in general and bribing people who go to NYC to bring me back some. If you find anything, please let me know!

  7. I would kill for a panera bagel or even a great american... AT this point id even go for a regular old store bought frozen... I live in västerås and havent found any in the stores.. i did find them some 5 yrs ago when iwas visiting but since then nothing...if anyone has an ideas where i can buy them in a store let me know plz!!!! Stephanie