Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bostonians Diss Starbucks' 'New York Style' Bagels

Boston Herald: A hole lot of nothing.

That’s what Boston-area bagel boosters think of Starbucks’ addition of “New York-style” bagels to its menu. “I’d probably never go in and try one,” Jason Farber, 31, of Melrose said, adding that he expects it to be “overrated and overpriced.”

Just what is a New York bagel?

“It has to be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside,” said Farber. Boiled before being baked, New York bagels are so popular that Ess-A-Bagel owner Florence Wilpon travels from the Big Apple twice a year to Osaka and Tokyo with tens of thousands of her bagels for Japanese foodies.

A Starbucks spokeswoman said: “New York bagels exemplify everything a bagel should be, from flavor profile to texture.”

Starbucks doesn’t bake the bagels on site, but said it has partnered with an unnamed New York bakery to bake them.

Puh-leeze, said Wilpon. “Ours are the best in the world.”

Bostonian bagel pros would disagree.

Though the recipe is simple — flour, water, salt, yeast and malt syrup — “The single most important thing is the skill of the person making it,” said Mike Lombardo, owner of Rosenfeld’s in Newton Centre, who charges $8.50 for a dozen. “It’s the handling correctly, letting it rise correctly and baking it correctly.”

Bay State bagel barons Rosenfeld’s, Katz Bagel Bakery in Chelsea, and Kupel’s in Brookline all do the “New York” boil-then-bake routine.

The Starbucks version costs $1.25 per bagel and comes in plain, multigrain and everything with cheese. Rebecca Or-Shahar, who was buying several dozen bagels for a Yom Kippur breakfast at Kupel’s earlier last week, said half the reason she travels from Andover to Brookline for her bagels is selection.

“They have whole-wheat sesame, whole-wheat poppy, whole-wheat raisin,” she said, pointing to the bins of nearly two dozen choices.

Ahead of her in line were Sara Potter and Jessica Nussbaum, two Brandeis University students whose trip to Kupel’s was their first.

“A Starbucks bagel wouldn’t do it for me,” said Potter. “I’m from New York.”

Nussbaum said Starbucks won’t get her regular bagel business, but might win her over occasionally — if only for convenience.

“If I was getting coffee and I was hungry,” she said, “I’d get a bagel.”

Visits to two local Starbucks in search of new bagel converts were unsuccessful. No one had tried the doughy rolls at either shop save for a toddler in Brookline — who was using a plain bagel as a teething ring. and I was hungry,” she said, “I’d get a bagel.”

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