Behind The Scenes at H&H Bagels

Growing up on the Upper East Side and going to high school on the Upper West, there was never a time when I didn't find myself in arms reach of an H&H Midtown Bagels—talk about being spoiled! So much so, that after class, my girlfriends and I would perfectly time our walk the three blocks so that we got to H&H right in time to get the fresh-out-of-the-oven hot bagels. Eating them ripped piece by ripped piece out of paper bags like drunks concealing their forties, we gobbled down our everything bagels.

In mentally and digestively preparing myself for this Yom Kippur, I came up with the simple yet genius idea to pay a visit to my neighborhood H&H.

Mentally struggling over what the most what epic looking Jew-y bagel would be, I found myself with a hunger to know more.

Suddenly, I was following the voice that yelled “Michelle, come back to the kitchen”—no, really, it wasn’t in my head, I was being called to the kitchen. Eagerly, I didn’t run nor walk, I strutted in my best New Yorker fashion past the line that filled half of the store and directly into the kitchen.

 

If you could only see through my eyes in that very moment—picture light beams radiating from each and every bagel and the sounds of angels singing and you’d be pretty darn close.

Being that I was in there for ten minutes that went by so quickly it felt like five, here are the quick oh-so-cool notes I’ve retained in my brain, sans notepad, for the four days since that you’ll just love.

Let’s start with the room in the very back—it’s filled with racks upon racks of numerous kinds of bagels. There were far too many bagels, stacked floor to ceiling, to supply this one store for the day—and I’m told that the room was practically empty when I walked into it. I can’t even. I was on cloud nine. Then, it all made sense. They distribute their bagels wholesale all around the city to places like high-end places like The Four Seasons and one of my go-to gourmet grocery stores, Agata & Valentina.

Aside from the stacks on stacks on stacks of trays filled with delicious bagels, H&H Midtown Bagels prides themselves on the details. I’m thinking specifically about their cinnamon raisin bagel station. Every single cinnamon raisin bagel is hand rolled on a special marble counter. Not because they fall apart or don’t taste as good as when made like the others, no, it’s because they aren't their prettiest when given this extra special attention to. That's how that beautifully perfect spiraling cinnamon swirl comes to be.

Well, with this much attention to detail combined with the fact that H&H Midtown Bagels has been around forever, I figured it out! I didn’t need to create my version of the most Jew-y looking, sounding and tasting bagel, they did! 

H&H Bagels

With the direction, “I want a bagel that screams ‘Jew-y’ stuffed so full with lox that it feels like it’s falling out”. The geniuses went to work and like that scene in Cinderella—the classic animated Disney version, of course—they took that already pretty everything bagel and, bippity boppity boo, transformed it into royalty! Jew-y royalty!

This cucumber, tomato, cream cheese schmeared, lox stuffed, caper sprinkled everything bagel was oh-so-perfectly Jew-y! Of course, it got completely devoured. FYI, discovering the best meal to break the fast with is absolutely becoming an annual tradition. That’s right, I’ll be pre-gaming and practicing for how to break the fast. After twenty-four hours of fasting, nearly anything tastes good. Now, what if you knew that the food you were about to eat actually tasted amazing before hand?! That first bite—talk about pure joy! May the fasting begin (so we can get to the breaking of it delicious part).