Things to put on bagels that aren’t cream cheese – the forward
We’re sure you’ve heard it before. First it was toilet paper. Then coins. Finally, supply chain woes have hit us hard in the Jewish soul: there is a shortage of cream cheese in New York City.
While various reports indicate that some bagel stores still display enough Philadelphia to top a candy cone, many bagel vendors are feeling the pressure.
The good news is, bagels are really delicious, and not just with cream cheese. And we can help our local bagel shops by stopping by and ordering one of their best mushy bones with something else or making other toppings ourselves.
Here’s what Forward staff put on bagels when regular schmear is scarce.
1) Avaco-do try this one for a healthier bagel
I basically took a bagel break when I started doing Weight Watchers in 2011, but then discovered the amazing WW-approved two ingredient bagel, which I made in both an oven and an air fryer with great satisfaction. Amid a general pandemic throwback to healthy eating, I’ve reverted to the occasional indulgence of real bagels, typically opting for flagels whenever they’re available to at least cut back on carbs (or remove bagels. large size). From a probably mistaken feeling that lawyers are slightly less bad for you than cream cheese – and reasonable that they are tastier – I used to crush ripe green fruit on the bagel, topping it with season everything and, to the extent possible, smoked salmon and sliced red onion.
– Jodi Rudoren, editor-in-chief
2) whitefish, naked fish
If I can’t have cream cheese, give me whitefish salad. Every year, it’s my favorite “second bagel” for Yom Kippur breakfast. After gulping down the traditional bagel and shmear and going back to round two, I take this slightly more distinctive option. It’s always the same thing: whitefish salad, tomato and a slice of Swiss (never Muenster!). Happiness.
– Rachel Fishman Feddersen, CEO and Editor
3) Chicken salad and a bit of Korean style
I recently moved from a desert of bagels to a poppy and onion blooming oasis called Astoria, where the holed manna lives peacefully alongside the souvlaki trucks. Often times, I forgo the typical schmear. Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company, which oddly has three locations in Queens, two in Manhattan, and exactly none in Brooklyn, has a variety of sandwiches on the menu complemented by gourmet fare like hot honey and chorizo. But because they make an honest, crisp, chewy look of a kettle-boiled bagel, it’s best to keep it simple and let the carbs show through. I recommend them Chicken salad – and really, any chicken salad on a good bagel, especially if it contains apples and raisins.
My second choice is unconventional – and treyf – but oh so good. Between the bagel on 30th Ave hangs a Seoul meets Bagel or sandwich “SMB” with bulgogi beef and egg with cheese, kimchi and gochujang. The owner, Ben, always gives out bitter straws with your order – and sometimes samples of homemade pudding.
– PJ Grisar, cultural journalist
4) the bagel from the southwest sidewalk
Bagel Shop on 93rd Street and Third Ave serves one of my favorite sandwiches: spicy chorizo with avocado and pepper jack cheese. Best served on a any bagel and swallowed up on the sidewalk, because who wants to wait until you get home?
– Irene Katz Connelly, editor-in-chief
5) time for tofu (and hummus)
As a person who has been lactose intolerant for almost a decade, I am delighted tofu schmear has time to shine. It has a bit of a nasty aftertaste so you really need to use the toppings strategically. I alternate between vegetable or green onion schmear and add tomato and red onion – certainly also get smoked salmon if you eat fish. Another decent option is anything Hummus and random veggie sandwich your local bagel spot offers. Now that I’m writing this, I think we non-dairy people need better options. Philadelphia, once you get your supply chain issues sorted out, maybe try to innovate on the plant front?
– Gabby Brooks, Marketing Associate
6) Homemade, with a touch of Cynthia Nixon
I admit that I am married to a fantastic baker who, several years ago, expanded his repertoire to include homemade bagels. (In a pinch, we’ll be buying bagels at Costco. We’re just humans). We even went so far as to carry several gallons of New York tap water to friends in Chicago so he could make them authentic New York bagels. My favorite topping at home is a butter schmear, a fried egg and lots of Frank’s hot sauce.
If my home baker is too tired and I need to indulge myself, I go to Murray’s bagels in Greenwich Village to have what I call Cynthia Nixon: toasted raisin and cinnamon bagel, lox, (Cream cheese), onions and capers, plus a cup of their freshly squeezed orange juice. Cynthia may have lost the governorship over this controversial order, but as a sweet and sour devotee, I can’t get enough of it. For a modified Cynthia Nixon, without cream cheese, substitute whitefish spread for lox and cream cheese OR keep lox and sub in tofu cream cheese.
– Nora Berman, opinion researcher
7) The classic BEC
As a born and raised New Yorker, I can always count on the local deli or bodega to whip up the classic bacon, egg and cheese (regardless of the bagel choices available).
– Jenn Martin, executive assistant
8) Lose the schmear, take the avocado (or shoot the bries)
When I was working at a cafe in Somerville, MA while in graduate school, I quickly got bored of the basic bagel and schmear for my lunch break meals – make enough of something for others and it starts to seem unattractive. So I had to be creative; one of my favorite combos during this time was a bagel with avocado, lox and marinated red onion. If I felt luxurious I would trade the avocado with a few slices of brie and maybe a a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
– Mira Fox, editor-in-chief
9) Dracula’s nightmare – and a dream come true for a chest-loving Jew
I am a member of the Jewish Cooking School which believes in preparing the same dishes for every Jewish holiday. It is chest and kugel for Purim, Passover, Rosh Hashanah and, more recently, Chanukah. Good thing too because my brisket recipe, which calls for brazing five pounds of meat, led to a bagel epiphany. The heads of Garlic that I opened and left in the jar for three hours came out nicely caramelized and, if you haven’t seen where it goes, deliciously spreadable. It might not replace cream cheese for the classic bagel sandwich, but give it a try for a quick snack and you’ll never look back.
– Arno Rosenfeld, editor-in-chief
10) What are we, chopped liver? (Yes)
Living on the Upper West Side, there is no shortage of old-fashioned bagel restaurants. If I had to go without cream cheese my favorite would be a Kosher Salami and Egg Sandwich of ** Tal Bagels **, or chopped liver from Murray’s Sturgeon Shop spread lightly on a toasted bagel.
– Deb Greenberg, Director of Development Operations
11) Hot in LA
My favorite bagels in Los Angeles are at Bagel Broker, a family place near the grove. A Los Angeles classic that’s worth queuing around the block anytime between 8 a.m. and noon most days. I’m going for the Cheddar and jalapeño bagel with egg and lox, and (usually) cream cheese and a simple street coffee in Pan Pacific Park, the site of the former Gilmore Ground, which predates Dodger Stadium.
– Aaron White, Director of Individual Giving
12) Eggs on top
My favorite bagel is a fresh and crispy sesame bagel with egg salad / mayo and tomato – so much so that every bite is a challenge to keep my shirt and pants from getting the rest. Although I have cut back on bagels in recent years due to a strict calorie diet.
– Jacob Kornbluh, major political reporter