Monday, March 4, 2013

So You Want Bagels?

If you're like me you love bagels. Real bagels. Not the "Wonder Bread Doughnuts" that attempt to pass themselves off as bagels in the supermarket. Chewy crust, flavorful interior . . . like you used to be able to get in New York and may still be able to get (I haven't been there in eight years).

Here in Portland, America's Weirdest City, we had a small chain of bagel shops called Kettleman's. In keeping with the nature of this town, it was started using investors he solicited on Craigslist by a Taiwanese immigrant who learned bagel making in New York after he arrived from his homeland in the 1980s. Taiwanese boy makes bagels, go figure. The bagels weren't fabulous, but they were exellent and several notches above anything else you could buy with the exception of Tastebud's "Montreal" bagels which, while tasty and baked in a wood-fired oven, are SO chewy they'll pull your fillings out.

In true American immigrant fashion, one day our immigrant bagel-meister was offered the brass ring. The corporate behemoth Einstein Noah Restaurant Group (700+ stores) made him an offer he couldn't refuse and he accepted. Good for him, it's the American dream. Start a business, make it successful and cash in. Kinda sounds like Mark Zuckerberg in a way, but without the drama.

But where did that leave the bagel lovers of Portland? Stuck is where. I know there are a couple of small operations making bagels around town and I'd thought I'd try them, but getting to them is a hike and a pain so I thought, "Why not just try to make your own?"

I solicited recipe suggestions and experiences from my friends on Wineberserkers and the consensus was this recipe from Peter Reinhart, author of The Bread Baker's Apprentice. It's in his book but it was also published on the Epicurious site, so I offer it here to prevent you from having to buy the book.

There are no off-the-wall ingredients save the malt syrup, which you can find at health food stores or brewers' supply houses. I got mine at the local upscale granola supermarket and I understand you can find it at Whole Paycheck, but I try to avoid that place. It's the Aunt Patty's brand, so you might Google that. Other than that, it's bread flour, water, salt and yeast plus a little baking soda for the "boiling" (which is more like a simmer) stage.

Dear readers, these bagels are incredibly simple to make, they just take about 24 hours from start to finish, most of which is spent with the shaped bagels in the fridge. I should have taken step-by-step pictures instead of just the finished product, but I think you'll agree that -- despite needing to perfect my shaping technique to make them more symmetrical -- I made some damn fine-looking bagels that tasted really good. My Brooklyn-born Jewish neighbor agrees with me, for what it's worth.

So here's the pic, and by all means give these a try. You won't be sorry. Next up, real Jewish rye bread so I have something to put my corned beef on. I may even try curing my own brisket for the corned beef. We'll see.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ahh . . . it's been a long time since I've posted. Longer than I'd thought. Here's a little tidbit for anyone who is still reading.

Went on a little jaunt on my vacation day yesterday and tasted a few things. First stop was at Seven of Hearts (I work there sometimes) where I ran into Beau Carufel and Becky Kramer who were out abusing their livers as usual.

2011 Mahonia Vineyard Chardonnay
This is Byron's best chardonnay yet, from a guy who has a six-year run of nice chardonnays. Nice green apple and pear with a bit of citrus and the barest hint of oak. 

2011 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
An acid-head's dream. Will need some time in the bottle but it's a great buy for $20. A true food wine. Back up the truck if you like the style, which was greatly dictated by 2011's weather.

2011 Lia's Vineyard Pinot Noir
Really backward, as opposed to the 2010 that was open for business from the get-go. A mix of red and black fruits and very complete due to the two different co-ferments of four different clones.

2011 Armstrong Vineyard Pinot Noir
The polar opposite of the Lia's, being very approachable now whereas the 2010 was very backward in its youth. Big, powerful and dark but with considerable finesse. This is a very young vineyard destined to only get better.

2011 Durant Vineyard Pinot Noir
Quintessential Dundee Hills pinot, with lots of raspberry and strawberry flavors. Kinda hazy but that doesn't bother me at all. Also backward right now but with a great future ahead of it.

2010 Special Reserve Pinot Noir
Wow! A truly disgusting wine that borders on being an abomination ( [basic-smile.gif] for all of you who are not familiar with my pinot rating system, those are the two highest ratings). Big, round and juicy, yet powerful at the same time. 

2011 Chateau Figareaux "Tribute" (not yet released)
A blend of approximately 50% merlot, 35% cabernet sauvignon and 15% cabernet franc from the Columbia Gorge, I've been eagerly anticipating this one and I wasn't disappointed. Byron proved what he can do with Bordeaux varieties with his 2004 Harmony's Vineyard blend he made in California and this is a worthy follow-up. A far cry from the gloppy, choco-blueberry oakshakes that are so popular these days, it's a focused and pure expression of its lineage and a screaming deal at what I think will be a price point of $25. Needs bottle time or LOTS of air. 

2011 GSM (not yet released)
A real crowd-pleaser dominated by syrah. Yummy and gulpable.

Good things happening here these days from a producer previously well-known for its blackberry wine. They don't make it any more and I think that's sad, but the family is sick of me saying that. Second generation winemaker Kim Kramer has a deft hand and it shows. You need to visit if only to say hello to Kosmo and Brody, the winery dogs. Kosmo (the big one) moves at the speed of molasses. At the North Pole.

2010 Brut
Roughly half chardonnay and half pinot noir, this is a bone-dry and clean sparkler I'd be proud to serve any time. Can't find a better one for the $25 price.

2011 Rose of Pinot Noir
A big rose with lots of color that will stand up to all sorts of food. I thought I had a couple of bottles at home and couldn't find them, so I'm disappointed I didn't pick up a couple more. This would have been great with last night's jambalaya.

2010 Rebecca's Reserve Pinot Noir
Simply wonderful. Again, disgusting bordering on an abomination. Lots of spice and perfectly balanced. I'd serve this anywhere, any time, to anyone - even my burg snob friends. Well done!

Cheers, y'all. Just thought I'd share.