“Bagels” Unlimited – Fairmount vs. St. Viateur

Hi y’all. I hope everyone’s February is going well. The last few weeks have been especially hectic for me, which is why, instead of boring everyone with repeats of mac and cheese and pie or chili, I’ve taken a step back from blogging. I usually write about things I cook, as opposed to restaurants or take-out. The lack of take-out entries is probably due to the lack of take-out restaurants that I’ve found in Montreal. My neighborhood is practically devoid of all take-out. I’ve been craving bagels lately, and today I made the schlepp up the mountain to try out the two famous Montreal places: Fairmount Bagel and St. Viateur Bagel. (Fairmount Bagel located at 74 Avenue Fairmount Ouest; St. Viateur @ 263 Rue Saint Viateur Ouest)

From both bagelries, I ordered a poppyseed bagel, a poppyseed matzoh, and a freebie – something found at one place but not the other. The freebie I picked up @ St. Viateur was a rosemary and sea salt bagel. At Fairmount it was the bozo bagel… two strands of twisted bagel dough, covered with one side in poppyseeds and sesame seeds on the other.

The matzoh for me was a first – I love matzoh, but I didn’t know matzoh could be made and not just bought in a box. This matzoh is not the kind I would make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with, but it was good. The matzoh from both stores could not be covered more in poppyseeds than it was – the top sides were thoroughly coated. The matzoh from Fairmount was squarer, and had visually more even lines – St. Viateur’s matzoh seemed more stretched in the general shape of matzoh but not precisely formed, but overall, I liked the matzoh from St. Viateur’s more. The dough had an almost nutty flavor, and was slightly softer.

In terms of bagels, I thought the bagels from both places were pretty interchangeable. Neither one stands out in my mind as phenomenal. The bagels from Fairmount seemed to me unnecessarily sweet, and the bagels from St. Viateur tasted especially boiled instead of baked. The part of the St. Viateur bagel that didn’t have a lot of poppyseeds on it didn’t have a lot of flavor itself, but went well with creamcheese. I did love the Rosemary Sea Salt bagel, but I don’t know that I can call any of these bagels, “bagels,” in my truest sense of the word. The Fairmount Bozo bagel was comparatively large compared to all of the other bagels, but was honestly the same size as a normal Jersey bagel would be. I’m also not the biggest fan of sesame in the world.

In general, I would eat a Rosemary Sea Salt bagel from St. Viateur Bagel again. I don’t know that I would go out of my way for any of the other bagels, and while the matzoh is a novelty for me, it’s not something I have to have. Furthermore, the staff seemed a little more friendly at St. Viateur than they did at Fairmount. Bottomline: try a Rosemary Sea Salt bagel @ St. Viateur, but don’t walk 45 minutes through rain and snow one way to get one. Wait for a day when the walk will be nice. Their bagels come closer to a New York/New Jersey replica than Fairmount do in my mind, but the next time I’m home I’ll have to load up with bagels to put in my freezer in Montreal. The Montreal bagels are okay, but they’re not the same if you’re used to Jersey’s finest.

Pictures are matzoh (Fairmount on L; St. V on R); rosemary sea salt from St. V; stack (top to bottom) of Fairmount poppy, Fairmount bozo bagel, St. V poppy; all sides of the bozo bagel.  Enjoy!








Macaroni and Cheese

No food warms me from the inside out like macaroni and cheese. As good as boxed macaroni and cheese can be, homemade is definitely worth the effort. At the very least, you can control the ingredients that you use, and it always comes out of the oven nice and hot. Don’t get me wrong, I love boxed mac and cheese as much as the next person, but I made a promise to myself not to eat it any more. A bowl easily leads to a whole box, which leads to two, and before you know it, you’ve (I’d) consumed several days’ worth of empty calories without thinking twice. Maybe this is why I’ve become so committed to making mac and cheese from scratch. Maybe it’s because it takes a bit longer to make, or because you see all the butter that you put into the meal, or maybe because it’s made with real ingredients, but when I eat macaroni and cheese from scratch, I think it’s so much easier to eat a bowl or two, and not five.

Anyway, you may recall my recent fascination with adding cream cheese to just about everything, and this recipe is no different. I was really curious if I could take a recipe I already love and rework it to give it a new twist. I use a recipe from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. An online link can be found here: http://www.food.com/recipe/fannie-farmers-classic-baked-macaroni-and-cheese-135350

The recipe calls for eight or nine ounces of macaroni, but I tend to use regular pasta and throw the whole box in, so the proportions of the rest of the recipe need to be adjusted as well. This time I used whole wheat rigatoni, about a full pound (16 ounces).

For the flour and butter mixture, I used 5 tablespoons of butter, 6 tablespoons of flour, and two tablespoons of cream cheese. I used about 2 cups of 1% milk, and thinly sliced about half a pound of cheddar cheese. For breadcrumbs, I used about half a cup of plain breadcrumbs and added about a 1/4 cup of panko breadcrumbs. I toasted them in a frying pan with about a tablespoon and a half of butter.

Cook and drain the pasta according to package directions. Pour half into a 9 x 13 inch size pan. Make the flour/butter/milk/cream cheese mixture (blend the flour and butter together in the saucepan, add the cream cheese and mix until well blended, add milk and stir continuously until it thickens). Cover the layer of pasta with about half of the cheese and flour/butter/milk/cream cheese mixture. Top with remaining pasta, another layer of cheese and milk mixture, and toasted breadcrumbs. Bake in the oven @ 400 degrees F until cheese is melted and breadcrumbs are browned.

The whole process took about an hour, and it was definitely worth it.

What do you think? Is this a recipe you would try?