Monday, January 10, 2022

Schmeared for Brunch: Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese and Bagels

The first few days of the new year were not exactly what we'd hoped for with the surge of cases from the bug's latest variant but then again, it's no surprise in this new normal. As reported cases continue to rise, restrictions on mobility means staying home for the next few days. But why not take your palate on a culinary journey from the safety and comfort of home? 

A slab of silky smooth and buttery smoked salmon laid on a generous schmear of cream cheese topped with crisp red onions on a dense yet soft and chewy bagel for a hearty brunch sets the tone for another day at home in the new normal. This time, you're transported to a faraway place to the lower east side of Manhattan.

It's often said that any city is best understood and appreciated by experiencing what the locals eat. A single bite often reveals so much more, gently peeling away the many colorful layers that define a place. The local food culture is a snapshot that allows you to reconnect with the past shaped by the convergence of social and even historical milestones. Food is memories, transferred from one generation to another, recreated in a dish and served. It's these stories on a plate that weaves the local character and its peculiar vibe of any city. Pick any city in the world, and one or two dishes immediately comes to mind. Take the Big Apple, with its iconic pizza, steaks and hot dogs but there's one more local staple that shares the spotlight with more than just a schmear of old-fashioned Americana...

Bagels, cream cheese and salmon come together for the quintessential and iconic New York staple enjoyed all day for a satisfying and filling meal. Tracing its origins as far back as the 13th century from Jewish communities in Poland, the distinctive round bread with a hole made its way across the Atlantic following the waves of migration in pursuit of the American dream. New York became a culinary melting pot with migrants bringing their traditions along with aspirations for a better life. The humble beginnings of the "bagel brunch" back in the 1900s with lox or cured salmon, cream cheese, capers, tomatoes and red onions remain popular to this day and now deeply woven into New York's culinary heritage. 

The tedious process of boiling then baking the yeasted wheat dough resulted in a dense, mildly crusty and chewy bread that was both affordable and filling to the Big Apple's migrant workforce. Like their iconic pizza, New Yorkers claim to have the best bagels due to the quality of local water. But it's the stories from countless Eastern European Jewish immigrants that arrived in New York woven with each bagel that makes this now popular and iconic staple an integral part of the city's culinary experience. 

The original pairing of lox with cream cheese on a bagel is now part of the culinary mainstream, a hearty handheld meal with a delicately balanced richness guaranteed to satisfy any craving or appetite. The cream cheese tempers the briny notes of the cured salmon with the red onion or capers adding that layer of bite and sharp contrasting notes. Using smoked salmon is a fairly recent variation, it's also much easier to find locally. And recreating it at home is easy with the rise of the food delivery culture and increased online access to a variety of products in this new normal. Where to find the best local bagels? Village Gourmet offers the classic Plain Bagel as well as Cinnamon Raisin, Blueberry and Whole Wheat Banana variants available in supermarkets or delivery. For quality seafood like smoked salmon, Cold Storage Seafood is also well-stocked in supermarkets with delivery options as well. A generous dab of cream cheese completes your bagel for the whole schmear. Arla PH offers an extensive variety of premium dairy products including cream cheese for the proper schmear with the bagel (see more on Arla PH on my earlier post, Let In The Goodness with the Country's First Pop-Up Arla Goodness Station and What's in the Fridge...The Classic Grilled Cheese).

Bagels, smoked salmon, cream cheese and red onions, the classic components of an iconic New York staple. I like to lightly toast my bagels for that delicate crispness before adding a generous schmear of cream cheese. Add a few slabs of smoked salmon and top with red onions, and you're ready for a bite of classic Americana straight from the Big Apple without leaving home. The soft yet crisp and chewy bagel brings comforting textures to the palate followed by the lavish richness and silky smooth cream cheese and the buttery melt-in-your-mouth smoked salmon while the red onion adds that contrasting layer of sharpness for that balanced finish. 

And just like that, one bite transports you to a faraway place in another long day in the new normal at home. Staying home doesn't mean you can't travel, simply let your palate take you wherever you want to be with just one bite. 

For more on the authentic artisan bread of Village Gourmet, visit their FB Page at and website at for more information.

For more on the frozen seafood selection of Cold Storage Seafood, visit their FB Page at for more information and updates.

For more on Arla and their extensive dairy products, visit their FB Page at for information and updates.

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