Halloween for breakfast

I was on autopilot a couple of weeks ago when I walked into the bagel shop around the corner from my apartment and ordered my usual: an everything bagel with regular cream cheese. Man, I should’ve known better.

My go-to shop, conveniently and dangerously located on the same block I live on, is The Bagel Store, the creatively named home of the rainbow bagel and all sorts of other wacky variations and crazy cream cheese flavors (tequila lime, I’m lookin’ at you.) It was exactly the moment after I’d ordered that I saw what I should have gotten, what I went back this week and had: a candy corn bagel.

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One of my favorite Halloween sweets, now in bagel form.

Yes, I’m that person. I love candy corn. I don’t care if you think it’s waxy or gross or too sweet. You don’t like it? Great, I’ll take it.

Using what I assume is the same dyeing method as the rainbow bagel, the candy corn bagel is a freakishly colorful, orange, yellow and white take on the New York breakfast fave. I was told it had a subtle vanilla flavor so I decided to go full sugar-overload, Halloween themed, autumn glutton and had it loaded up with pumpkin cream cheese.

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Just in time for Halloween!

While I couldn’t see it ever taking the place of my trusted everything bagel, I did think the candy corn bagel was tasty and fun, with its super sweet globs of cream cheese  oozing everywhere.I like my bagels on the savory side but this one was good too.

Maybe from now on, in addition to eating a few bags of candy corn each October (as well as whatever other sweets I can get my hands on), I’ll add a candy corn bagel too. You know, just for good measure.

The bagel game just got crazy

Remember that time a couple of weeks ago when I ate that weird bagel with seaweed and salmon roe and I tried to tell you it was awesome and you just kind of thought I had lost my fat mind? Well brace yourself. Things just got weirder but SOOO much more delicious. Be open minded, will you?

Yup, this bagel is black.

Yup, this bagel is black.

So I went back to Black Seed Bagels for this week’s special collaboration guest bagel, and man was it everything. From the evil genius minds of Mission Cantina’s Danny Bowien and Angela Dimayuga, (Mission Cantina, in case you don’t already know has the best burrito I’ve ever had. Ever.) this week’s special is a squid-ink bagel with anchovy butter and Iberico ham.

Go ahead and marinate on that for a minute.

First of all, yes, this bagel, flecked with white poppy seeds like reverse freckles, is black as a piece of coal. At first glimpse, it looks like a charred, burnt bagel. But it’s not, it’s just squid ink, which I have to tell you, gives it the dark color but not much of the weird, inky, fishy flavor you might already be imagining and scrunching your nose at. Inside, the bagel is smeared with a delicious, salty anchovy butter and layered with thick ribbons of Iberico ham, that beautiful, fat-marbled sexy Spanish cousin of prosciutto. Yes, you can taste the anchovies (for me, not a problem since they were on every pizza my dad ever ordered when I was a kid, making me grow to actually like them) but it’s not an overpowering taste. The buttery, melts-on-your tongue, slightly chewy quality of the ham was more dominant and tied everything together, making for a really decadent, rich, fatty (in a good way. A very good way.) start to the day.

I mean, c'mon! Look at this ol' pile of deliciousness!

I mean, c’mon! Look at this ol’ pile of deliciousness!

I get that some of these special bagels at Black Seed are just novelty items, things you have once, Instagram them, and then go back to your ol’ everything bagel with plain cream cheese routine, but maaaaaan, I wish they’d keep this one around (past April 5th).

Bagel mashups and collabos

While I could definitely go on regaling you with tales of Cambodian food from January (which now seems soooo long ago), it’s important to live in the here and now, and the current here and now is New York. And as for what I’m eating in the said here and now? Bagels, the most quintessential of New York foods, if you ask me.

Black Seed Bagels, located just a few blocks from where I work, had been on my to-do list since they opened last year, but it wasn’t until I read about their chef collaborations that I actually went to check them out.

Each week for the next month or so, Black Seed will feature a bagel special from a different well known chef, and this week’s bagel (available until Sunday the 15th) is from ramen whiz Ivan Orkin, a self-proclaimed “japanophile.”

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Ivan Orkin’s Japanese-Everything-Spice Black Seed Bagel

A play on the regular everything bagel (my usual go-to), his instead is a Japanese-Everything-Spice bagel with aonori (seaweed) cream cheese and ikura (salmon roe) egg salad, both of which are smeared on thick and generously so that every bite oozes sloppy deliciousness in every direction. Egg salad is one of my favorite things ever so a big ol’ bagel piled high with it, spoke directly to me. Smooth and creamy like the best egg salads, this one had the extra added flavor and texture surprise of fat, orange pearls of ikura or salmon roe. Their slightly briney taste were a nice complement to the seaweed flecked cream cheese and the eggy, creaminess of the egg salad.

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Every bit as delicious as it was sloppy and messy and perfect

In a perfect world, I’d love to start all of my mornings with this Japanese meets New York mash up of a messy, delicious bagel creation, but alas, that can’t be the case. Or I mean, it could be the case but then I’d probably have to fill my closet with mumus. So, for now, Ivan Orkin’s bagel will have to be it… until next week, that is, when there’s a whole new bagel and a whole new here and now to discuss.

Breakfast of (gluttonous) champions

Behold: the French toast bagel. Cue the choir of angels.

Behold: the French toast bagel. Cue the choir of angels.

Some people incorrectly believe that I live off a diet of pizza and Cadbury eggs. And hey, listen, I get it. I see how my endless blabbering would make anyone think I eat only the most unhealthy of foods, but those are really just a small (ok fine, medium) part of my diet. The other parts just aren’t as exciting, so I don’t talk about them much. Who really wants to hear about my spinach smoothies and undying love for steamed Brussels sprouts? No one.

But who wants to hear about the insanity of deliciousness, the monstrosity of gluttony, and the several thousand calories of over-the-top breakfast ridiculousness I ate this weekend in the form of a french toast bagel with maple bacon cream cheese from The Bagel Store around the corner from my place? Well, way more of you than want to read about green smoothies, I’m sure.

Let me repeat that so you can take it in again: a french toast bagel, stuffed no, oooooozing with thick globs of maple bacon cream cheese. A true beast of a breakfast. But so, so delicious.

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What you might call the antithesis of a healthy breakfast

The bagel itself was a big, round, doughy affair, slightly more yellow than the average bagel, and with a sweeter flavor, like the love child between a plain bagel and challah bread. Dusted on the golden-brown top crust was a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar, and inside was an admittedly obscene amount of cream cheese, probably enough for at least one whole other bagel to be properly smeared with.

Just when you thought cream cheese couldn't get better. Bam! BACON.

Just when you thought cream cheese couldn’t get better. Bam! BACON.

So, let’s talk about this maple bacon cream cheese. It wasn’t bacon flavored, or speckled with crummy bacon bits. Oh no, this cream cheese had generous strips, huge chunks of actual bacon, what someone clearly cut very generously and threw into the mix. Was it a bit excessive? Yes. Did I care? Nope, ate every last bit of it, in fact.

But I followed it up with a green juice later in the day. I swear.

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No bacon, eggs or cheese here but it’s OK

With the exception of New Year’s Day, when I woke up with an outrageous, crippling hangover and wanted nothing more than to eat all of the bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches in New York City, being a vegan hasn’t been that bad.

I’m on day twelve of my month long challenge  and not once in those twelve days have I cheated, fantasized about dairy (that much), or directed malicious thoughts toward people eating non-vegan things. (Although, confession time: having to order vegetarian meatloaf at a chicken-and-waffles joint sucked… especially when my friend’s fried chicken smelled like God himself.)
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Just as great tasting as it is looking, I swear

One of the good things about living in New York though, and more specifically Brooklyn, is that being vegan doesn’t have to suck. I mean, it’s not ideal (life without bacon cheeseburgers just can’t be ideal), but it’s not the worst thing ever, either. A couple mornings ago, for example, I found myself at Brooklyn Standard, my favorite Greenpoint deli, looking for a big breakfast to hunker down in bed with while binge watching Downton Abbey. (It was my day off and the weather was rating pretty high on the shitty winter weather scale, so yea, those were my plans.)
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What a beaut.

And that’s when I saw it: the Cali Bagel with the magic v word in parenthesis: tofu cream cheese, tempeh sausage, oven-dried cherry tomatoes, jalapeños, and basil. Slap all that on an everything bagel and you’re looking at a pretty happy fake vegan.

First of all, let me say this: I was ready to hate tofu cream cheese. As a serious lover of real cream cheese, I didn’t think I had it in me to love an imposter, but I did. I loved how creamy and smooth it was, and how it just melted and oozed all over my toasted bagel. The tempeh sausage, while not as delicious as the real deal, was good and had a nice, sausagey consistency and flavor. The cherry tomatoes were juicy and bright and the jalapeños added a perfect hint of tangy spiciness.

Being a vegan for another 20 or so days shouldn’t be too hard if I have this bad boy just down the block.