Bringing Real Brooklyn Bagels to Sydney

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You know when I go underground, there’s always a good reason. This time it’s for something that I’ve been very proud of – Brooklyn Boy Bagels.

After 12 years of complaining that every bagel I’d ever seen in Australia was nothing like a real New York bagel – they were always too bready and fluffy, and rarely boiled – I decided to do something about it. I spent the past year learning how to make proper, artisan and handrolled bagels,  including a couple of trips to New York and a surprisingly productive trip to San Francisco, working with a couple of top bagel-makers who were, naturally, transplants from the New York metro area. I spent a day with the No 1-rated Schmendricks, and I particularly have to thank Dan Graf of Oakland’s Baron Baking, who took me under his wing and showed me every single detail of his bagel-making process, which blends traditional techniques with some modern thinking.

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I finally opened up my own pop-up in February, taking over one of my favourite small bars, Darlie Laundromatic in Darlinghurst, on Sundays. The opening day was insane and a complete surprise: before we’d even opened our doors, we had a line around the block down Palmer Street, and again down Foley Lane. If I was ever wondering whether Sydneysiders would take to authentic NYC bagels, I needn’t ever wonder again.

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So what makes Brooklyn Boy Bagels so special? Well, they’re done the traditional way, using the same techniques that the Polish-Jewish immigrants did when they first brought bagels to New York in the late 19th Century, and then to the rest of America. My great-grandparents and grandmother were part of that immigration wave. They came through Ellis Island, lived in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and then found more space in Brooklyn. That’s where I was conceived – Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay. So you could say I was born with a bagel in my mouth.

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So it’s not just a matter of New York pride, but also with a mind towards preserving my heritage that Brooklyn Boy Bagels are made using the following methods:

  • Hand-rolled: We form each and every bagel by hand, which produces sore shoulders, but also a tight dough that tastes like nothing any bagel-shaping machine can achieve
  • Boiled: Boiling is what makes a bagel a bagel, giving it its unmistakable crunch, flavour and texture. Don’t trust anyone who says a bagel tastes just as good steamed
  • Malt: We use top-quality malt for our bagels, which gives them their distinctive taste
  • Organic Stoneground Flour: Back in pre-industrialisation days, the original bagel makers didn’t have to worry about flour made with harsh pesticides. And thanks to our sourcing of top-quality organic stoneground flour from New England’s (New South Wales, that is) Wholegrain Milling, neither do you. Oh yeah, and the flour makes the bagels taste awesome, too!
  • Bagel Boards: We bake our bagels on both sides, flipping them over via handmade wooden bagel boards, which produce a fully rounded bagel from above and below. Next time you have a bagel from anywhere else, check out its flat underside. Ours have nice, rounded bums

Following up the success of our first pop-up, Brooklyn Boy is now back at Darlie Laundromatic for an extended run. So if you’re hungry any Sunday this month and fancy an authentic NY bagel, I’d love you to come by and have a taste of my native city. Here are the deets so you can find us:

Brooklyn Boy Bagels @ Darlie Laundromatic
304 Palmer Street
Darlinghurst, NSW
Sundays, 9am-2pm
www.facebook.com/brooklynboybagels
@bklynboybagel

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17 responses to this post.

  1. It’s a good read, now I have to go and try it out!!!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Marina Estela on October 7, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Just want to know, maybe is a silly question, but do you still open on Sunday, and also do you deliver to the south west of Sidney.

    Thank you.

    Reply

    • Hi Marina. We do home delivery for large orders ($48 minimum) ever Sunday, and we also do pop-ups at varying locations and are trying to lock in some regular farmers markets. The best way to keep tabs on us is via our Brooklyn Boy Bagels Facebook Page.

      Reply

  3. Posted by kent on June 14, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Whilst I would not wish to say anything that would detract from the enthusiasm shown by the baker or its customers I should point out that the NY bagel is not the bagel made in the haim. That is the bagel as known in the U.K and Canada, one that is baked to a hard golden and crispy outside, soft inside and smaller than the NY bagel. The Montreal bagel can be experienced at Mile End in Brooklyn and NYC. If the bagel boys could make an English bagel a lot of us homesick poms would be very happy. And by the way Schmeer refers to fat, usually chicken fat, that was used in place of butter on bread or bagels for dietary reasons. Not cream cheese.

    Reply

    • Hi Kent,

      Things evolve whenever they leave they home country, so to say one bagel is the original or not really is beyond the point. I’m not sure if they even make the original bagels that were invented in Krakow, as many of the bakers were Jewish and fled to New York and Montreal. Both types of bagels, whether Montreal or New York, are beautiful in their own right. Montreal bagels are great for their woodfired tinge and romance, while New York bagels are amazing for their long, patient proofing (Montreal bagels are made very quickly over hours, and they’re fluffy like bread, as opposed to the chewiness of the New York style, which takes a minimum of overnight to prove). It’s like comparing New York coal-oven pizza to Roman pizza bianca, Chicago deep dish and a Naples margherita. They are all authentic and beautiful in their own way.

      As for “schmear”, you’re right in that the German word meant to spread fat or butter, but in Yiddish, schmear means to spread something, and originally referred to cheese. It’s not the work for chicken fat; that’s “schmaltz”.

      In New York, which is what I’m channeling at Brooklyn Boy Bagels, a schmear is the coined term used at any authentic bagel house, where they spread ungodly amounts of cream cheese on beautiful hand-rolled bagels (I usually buy one with a schmear and two without, so I can spread the cream cheese love). As for large New York bagels, they aren’t actually traditionally very big, but many a bagel has grown over time with the excess of American foods in general. You can still see their original, smaller size at bastions of tradition, most notably at The Bagel Hole in Brooklyn’s Park Slope.

      http://brokelyn.com/hole-lotta-love-for-nycs-best-bagels/

      As for you homesick Poms, I’m working on some salt beef bagels for you lot. I don’t want anyone pining too long for their Brick Lane days of old!

      Reply

      • Posted by kent on June 19, 2013 at 2:51 pm

        Thank you for responding. I will not argue further with one so committed to providing culinary excellence. My grandmother who came from Poland in 1895 and ran a series of ‘kosher’ restaurants in London with her children including my mother did use the word schmaltz for chicken fat, but when she spread it on bread it was always schmeer (no ‘a’). Now down to serious business, why can you not make a proper rye and caraway loaf dark brown and crispy on the outside and full of seeds. No one else does except for a German outfit in Adelaide and theirs is not the loaf you or I would recognise. I think you will find there is an unmet market. Meanwhile good luck with your endeavours and let us all know when the salt beef is ready.

      • Haha, Kent, we weren’t arguing – just having a proper discussion :)

        My grandmother is from Lublin as well. We’ll have to compare notes!

        I feel your pain when it comes to proper rye bread. I’ve got a couple of New York-style rye breads that I want to try to recreate – with caraway seeds, naturally! There are two main types: one’s a light rye and the other a sour rye. But I’ll keep a dark rye in mind as well, or at the very least give you a decent pumpernickel rye. We’re just waiting to find a proper bakery site where we have more room to play, but good rye is high on my list.

        Hope to see you at one of our Brooklyn Boy pop-ups soon. Our next one in Sydney is likely to be on Sunday, the 7th of July. Just check our Facebook page for an update, or try our home delivery service that we’re testing out in the Eastern Suburbs, Inner Sydney and Inner West.


        http://www.facebook.com/BrooklynBoyBagels

        Cheers,
        Michael

      • Posted by kent on June 19, 2013 at 3:11 pm

        The rye I am dreaming of is what you would call light, only the crust is golden and crispy. Please let me have the contact number for the home delivery. Lublin, eh! Your grandmother was a Litvak then (and clearly much younger than mine). My people are from Lodz, that is real Poland!
        K

      • Perfect. I think we’re looking for a similar type of rye. Mine often had polenta (cornmeal) on the bottom for a bit of extra crust, but it was soft and airy in the middle.

        I’m sending you an email regarding orders as we speak. Just as backup, you (or anyone else reading this who’s hungry for a real NY bagel) can reach me at brooklynboybagels [at] gmail [dot] com.

  4. […] what makes Brooklyn Boy Bagels so special? Well, they’re done the traditional way, using the same techniques that the […]

    Reply

  5. This is brilliant! NOTHING beats a NY bagel. Well done! Looking forward to popping in soon!

    Reply

  6. Posted by Anonymous on April 21, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Golly, I might have to move back to Sydney!

    Reply

  7. You just made my day. Can’t wait to stop by!

    Reply

  8. Posted by Tom Hall on April 10, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Michael – I think this is fantastic. Can you ship a dozen to London?

    Reply

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