We might not be in the middle of a Bay Area bagel renaissance, but at the very least, we’re on the threshold of one.
The San Francisco pop-up Schmendricks makes a stellar product, and Beauty’s Bagels is riding the success of its Montreal-style bagels (and relationship with Wise Sons Deli) into its own appetizing shop, which co-owner Blake Joffe hopes to open by the end of July in Oakland.
Now, two other new outfits — both of which boil their bagels rather than steam them, of course — are galloping into the bagel parade. One is Baron Baking (see the next item) and the other is the Authentic Bagel Company.
The latter is run by a pair of Jewish brothers, Mark and Jason Scott, who hail from Rhode Island. Using a commercial kitchen in Emeryville, they’ve been selling their wares at a number of East Bay cafés, including the Coffee Mill in Oakland and Rick & Ann’s in Berkeley. They also do home deliveries (yowza!) if you live near their current routes, and they’re on the waiting lists at three farmers’ markets.
And as of Sunday, July 1, they will be in their own place, a former hot dog joint called O My Dawg just one block from Jack London Square. A few months ago, they and some partners had plans to turn Café Zoe on College Avenue in Oakland into a full-fledged Jewish deli, but those plans fizzled.
At least initially, the brothers will use their new location mostly for their wholesale business, but they also are hustling to get the place retail-ready for limited hours, probably three middays a week.
The Scott brothers began their business about five months ago. “We decided for Mother’s Day 2011 to make our own bagels, and that’s how this whole thing started,” says Jason, 27, who is single and lives in Oakland. Mark, 33, lives in Hayward and got married five months ago.
While they worked on recipes and establishing consistency, the brothers kept their jobs at Monaghan’s on the Hill, a casual restaurant in Oakland. They also used the restaurant as a testing ground, trying out that first batch at a Mother’s Day brunch.
In February, they lit out on their own. At first, they were selling only a dozen or so bagels a day, but now it’s up to about 500 a day with 13 accounts. The newest client is Clif Bar in Emeryville.
“We get phone calls all the time, people thanking us for bringing a real bagel to them,” Jason says. “Our bagel is a cross between a New York style, or a New England style as we call it, and a California-style product. We use a starter dough, which is basically the same thing San Francisco people use for sourdough. Our bagels have chewy interiors and a crispy crust, and maybe a little sourdough flavor.” He says each batch ferments for 24 hours before boiling and baking.
In addition to all the basic bagels, the brothers also make specialty bagels for clients with a special request; thus, brace yourself, there is a maple bacon bagel at Rick & Ann’s. “That’s the biggest thing we get criticized for,” Jason says. “How can you put bacon into a bagel?”
Once they open for retail, they won’t sell the maple bacon bagel, but they will have peanut butter chocolate chip bagels and other specialty bagels. Their thinking is that whatever tastes good on a bagel can be baked right into a bagel, a pepperoni pizza bagel, for example. Plus, they have plans for bagel sandwiches, like grape jelly cream cheese on a peanut butter chocolate chip bagel for breakfast.
“The idea isn’t that it’s trying to be a bagel, per se, but that it’s something more on the savory side, with some sweetness to it, for breakfast,” Jason says.
Authentic Bagel Company
463 2nd St., Oakland (on July 1)
@BagelCo on Twitter; Authentic Bagel Company
on Facebook; www.abagelcompany.com
THE BARON: In late 2011, an unemployed former Saul’s Deli cook decided to dedicate himself to crafting the kind of old-fashioned New York bagels he remembered from his youth in New Jersey.
Now, after months of trial and error, Oakland resident Dan Graf, 27, is making anywhere from 70 to 200 bagels a day and trying to build up a wholesale client base. Right now, 90 percent of his business is with Saul’s in Berkeley, which began selling his bagels on June 11.
Graf calls his outfit Baron Baking — not to be confused with Barton’s Bagels in San Anselmo — and it’s a one-man operation. He makes them in a commissary kitchen near the Oakland-Berkeley border, and his little creations take 36 hours from start to finish. He allows for a long fermentation process (which adds flavor complexity) before boiling in lye water (which adds some pretzel-like qualities).
Consistency seems to be a bit of an issue, but co-owner Peter Levitt liked Baron’s bagels enough to bid adieu to Beauty’s Montreal-style bagels, which Saul’s had been selling for several months. Levitt says most of his customers reacted quizzically or negatively to the Montreal style; it’s not what they are looking for in a bagel.
Baron provides a super chewy New York style, although the crunch and flavor balances still need perfecting. Graf is going mostly with traditional flavors to start, but he’s working on a pumpernickel and maybe a cinnamon-raisin.
Graf isn’t Jewish, but he says he grew up “immersed in Jewish culture” in New Jersey. And he loved eating bagels. “I don’t think bagels on the East Coast are viewed as an ethnic food. They’re viewed as a regional food,” he says.
LATKE TOTS IN NAPA: In downtown Napa, you can now find pastrami and reuben sandwiches, matzah ball soup, rugelah and miniature latkes called latke tots (served with both sour cream and applesauce). And it’s all being served from the window of a new food truck.
The truck is called Pastranomy, and it began regular service two weeks ago. So far, the customers have mainly been locals and nearby workers, but day-trippers and tour-ists will probably be swinging by soon enough. Be warned, however, that the truck is closed on Sundays.
Downtown Napa is worth a side trip, anyway. It’s been revitalized in recent years, and the Oxbow Public Market is like a mini-Ferry Building Market-place. Throw in a traditional Jewish deli on wheels, and it’s a can’t-miss, right? I’ll have more on Pastranomy in my next column.
Corner of Main and Clinton streets, Napa
Tuesday-Saturday 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (or later)
@Pastranomy on Twitter; Pastranomy on Facebook; www.pastranomy.com
(707) 483-DELI (3354)
DELI OR NOT DELI?: The submarine-style sandwiches at the Deli Board in San Francisco put one in the frame of mind of a hoagie shop, and even owner Adam Mesnick doesn’t want to call his 2-year-old place a Jewish deli “for fear of leading people in a wrong direction.” But, he adds, he does “use Jewish deli meats in an innovative fashion.”
The menu includes torpedo-style sandwiches (most for $10 or $11) with names such as the “Cohen,” the “Gold-n-Berg-n-stein” and the “Mezman.” The latter is pastrami, egg salad, muenster cheese, jalapeños, pickles and their special sauce served on a garlic Dutch crunch roll. With pickles on the side.
Mesnick was raised on good Jewish deli in Cleveland, and he does have a soft spot in his heart for real deli. He sells all of his meats (corned beef, pastrami, brisket, kosher salami, etc.) by the pound, and he also just started carrying a New York, Romanian-style pastrami that “my Jewish customers are going bonkers for.” It’s brinier and fattier than his regular pastrami, he says.
In the planning stages, Mesnick tried to make his succulent sandwiches on rye, but the bread wouldn’t hold up, so he had to go with sturdier rolls. However, he does sell rye (usually on Sat-urdays) and a spicy brown ballpark mustard from Cleveland (always). “People can buy the meat and a rye and take it home and do whatever they want with it,” he says.
1058 Folsom St., San Francisco
Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
@deliboard on Twitter; Deli Board on Facebook; www.deliboardsf.com
(415) 552-SOUP (7687)
Berkeley’s Maoz Vegetarian, noted for student-friendly prices and an abundant and fresh fixin’s bar where you could top your falafel or salad to your heart’s desire, has shut down. The Telegraph Avenue spot near the Cal campus was part of a now 13-franchise worldwide chain started by an Israeli couple in Amsterdam in 1991. But the Berkeley spot lasted only about two years, and reportedly it will be replaced by a new location for Shattuck Avenue’s Turkish Kitchen … Production of Schmendricks bagels slowed down in recent weeks as the gang focused on buying and installing new ovens so they can increase their production capacity going forward. This week, the ovens went into the commercial kitchen they use. In the meantime, fresh Schmendricks (the best way to have them) are available Wednesdays starting at 7:30 a.m. at Faye’s Video and Espresso on 18th and Guerrero streets in the Mission. Be warned: They’re $3 each … On June 1, the café at the Contemporary Jewish Museum began its window service, and outdoor seating is proving to be quite popular on pleasant days. The café, American Box, also added some new indoor seating and dressed up the atmosphere a bit. To see the menu and what American Box is all about, visit www.thecjm.org and pull down the “Visit” menu … Good news for East Bay residents salivating to try the pierogies, borscht and Jewish favorites from Old World Food Truck. Starting July 12, Off the Grid is launching a new Berkeley location that will feature eight to 10 trucks every Thursday from 5-9 p.m. on Haste Street near Telegraph Avenue. Old World Food Truck (@oldworldtruck) has signed on, as has falafel favorite Sunrise Deli (@sunrisedeli) … The Jewish Food Festival in Carmel is always a great noshfest, with lots of vendors and classic options. This year is the 25th anniversary, so it might be even better than usual. It’s on Aug. 26 from 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. at Congregation Beth Israel in Carmel Valley. Make it part of a great day trip. For more info, (831) 624-2015 or www.carmelbethisrael.org … It used to be Katz Bagels. Then it was changed to just Katz, and the sign out front no longer included that big hanging bagel. Now Mike Katz has renamed his Lower Haight bagel spot Nectar and has taken the food into the “rustic, organic” realm. Fans of Katz’s bagels can relax, however; they’ll still be available in the mornings at Nectar (633 Haight St.) and all day at Katz Bagels’ SoMa and Mission locations … Wise Sons Deli in San Francisco has come full circle. Once a pop-up restaurant itself, the deli is now offering its space two Sunday nights a month to other pop-ups, starting with Mattarello (family-style Italian dinners). “We love being able to give the opportunity to others that we had,” co-owner Leo Beckerman says. The June 17 dinner sold out — at $55 a seat!
Save room for …
Three offbeat offerings that have been spotted recently at local establishments:
Pastrami burrito from the La Pastrami food truck in San Francisco: A griddled flour tortilla stuffed with a wad of peppery pastrami, rice, crunchy strips of pickled red onions, a dose of green onions and a Russian-type dressing. $8.
Sauerkraut balls from the Deli Board in San Francisco: sauerkraut sautéed with onions, corned beef and a bit of cheese, dipped in dough and fried, served with Russian dressing. A Cleveland specialty. $6 for five.
Big Macher burger from Wise Sons Deli at Tuesday’s Ferry Building pop-up: a pastrami patty, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions on a challah bun. $11, includes a side.
Hardly Strictly Bagels will soon run twice a month. For more frequent Jewish food news, follow @andytheohr on Twitter. Send hot tips and out-of-the-way finds to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or just let me know what your favorite bagel place and/or deli is in the Bay Area.