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.
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.
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.
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: