I am old enough to remember an Ireland before fancy things like take away pizza and pitta breads. Sandwich options were limited to cheese, ham, corned beef and coleslaw, coffee was served white or black and if you wanted froth on the top you achieved this with a big dollop of whipped cream.
It was a simpler time when a fish finger sandwich was something you made when your mother wasn’t looking, not something that you paid €7 for in a gourmet cafe. In this era, the 80’s, a bagel was something I first saw on a documentary about some artist and their highly bohemian life in London. I don’t remember the artist but I remember that bagel shop and the queue of people waiting for their bagel smeared with cream cheese and topped with smoked salmon.
Many years later when I was visiting my sister in Dublin she took me to It’s A Bagel in the Epicurian Food Hall and I had my first real bagel. I had once had a vile approximation of a bagel back in the UCC cafeteria, it was dry, tasteless and could have caused serious damage if thrown forcefully. This bagel, however, was a revelation, there was a lovely golden gleam to it, the texture was new and unusual, the combination of salmon and cream cheese (I had to finally taste what I had seen on that documentary) was one of the best things I had ever tasted.
Now bagels are everywhere, you can get packs of 5 for less than €2 in your local supermarket. If you are celiac It’s A Bagel is your bagel haven, you can eat in or buy a pack of bagels to take home. Unfortunately while I truly appreciate this the texture of the bagels is not quite right. This could be because the baking process requires that the dough be boiled briefly before being baked and this most likely cannot be done with gluten free dough, that is pure conjecture on my part so if anyone has a definitive answer please let me know.
The other day while picking up some groceries I spotted the Be Free Gluten Free bagels and felt that here was Saturday’s breakfast. On Saturday morning I checked the pack for the reheating instructions as in my previous GF bagel experience a period in the oven wrapped in tinfoil before toasting was required to make the bagels edible. I had a good look and there were no instructions of any kind so I took a chance and cut one in half, toasted the cut side briefly on the grill and let it cool slightly before lashing on the cream cheese and the salmon. Bagels and coffee were put on a tray and I went back up to bed and there enjoyed one of the best and easiest to prepare breakfasts I have had in a long time.
The texture is almost what I remember a non GF bagel to have, it is dense and chewy, the seed topping gives a lovely crunch and more importantly they are the same size as a non GF bagel, happy days! In GF food terms the price is reasonable, I paid €3.49 for a pack of four, one for Saturday, one for Sunday and two in the freezer for next weekend.