The Bagel Bar

the bagel bar_main
 

Growing up in New Jersey, I assumed good, cheap bagels were a God-given right. Having lived in Pittsburgh for the past five years, I realize just how spoiled I was. As it turns out, a proper bagel is hard to find outside of the New York area. Though some claim it’s the NYC water that makes them so singular, it might be tough to find a good bagel because a good bagel is tough to make. The unique process of shaping, boiling, and baking challenges even professional bakers, but it creates the distinctive shiny crust and airy inside that makes for the ultimate bagel.
 
Unless you have plenty of time and a high tolerance for frustration, you’ll want to buy the bagels. (We got ours from Black Radish Kitchen, Kate Romane’s excellent new catering company.) But that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with the fixins’. Make a few compound butters (essentially a fancy name for butter with herbs mixed in) and whip up a flavored cream cheese or two. Provide some sweet and savory options: perhaps a honey butter and a caper cream cheese. To truly take your bagel buffet to the next level, put out some smoked salmon, charcuterie, and pickled vegetables and let guests build the bagel sandwich of their dreams.
 
The “Love and Lox” subscription from Black Radish Kitchen includes 12 house-made everything bagels, caper butter, honey butter, house-made jam, spring chive whipped cream cheese, and 12 ounces of cured salmon.