Well, I had to come to New York to learn about a traditional food from my hometown Bialystok- Bialys.
Ironically, today, Bialys are better known to millions of New Yorkers than Bialystokers.
Bialystok itself, a small town in North East of Poland, has had surprisingly significant impact on New York’s history! There is a Bialystok Street in NYC, Bialystok synagogue and a hospital named after my little town.
Bialystok was the last name of Max one of the characters in a famous Broadway show – “The Producers” (Max Bialystok), and most of all we have … Bialys.
Bialys look much like bagels but they have a slightly different color. They are more white in hue and “bialy” in Polish simply means “white.” Bakers say that a Bialy is a perfect recipe and the baking is not easy.
Trying bagels and biays is a MUST in New York. Bagel shops are on every corner. There are thousands of places competing and claiming to offer the best bagels. What’s the secret to New York’s bagels that can’t be reproduced elsewhere? READ ON….
But trust me, I have tried (almost) all of them, and some of the best can be found at New York’s famous Russ and Daughters on the Houston street.
This shop has been operating since 1914.
Shop Founder Joe Russ came to New York from Strzyzewo, a small town in southern Poland. In 1914, he opened his first store specializing in herring. His three daughters worked with him in the store and that is why in 1933, he changed the name to Russ & Daughters.
It should be noted that it was quite a bold move for those days. Partnerships were traditionally only given to sons but not daughters. So having a company name with “& Daughters” in it was something quite new, even for New York City.
However, Joe Russ was a terrible salesman. If he happen not to like a customer he just simply threw them out of the store. Business was truly profitable only because of his (very pretty) daughters.
Currently the shop is run by Joshua Russ,a fourth generation Russ, who left his career as a chemical engineer to continue the family legacy.
Visiting the shop is one-of-a kind experience. Not only do they servearguably some of the best bagels in the city but Joshua , who will serve you himself, is truly charming.
He may flirt with you. He will chat and tell you the most amazing stories about the shop and its customers. One of his ‘regulars’ asked him to hide an engagement ring inside the favorite herrings of his future wife.
Entering the shop is like stepping into New York’s colorful past. It is an amazing and highly recommended experience (especially around the December holidays!)
For first timers, I recommend sampling a bagel with cream cheese ,some Norwegian smoked salmon with a slice of onion:
On your second trip try some of their other cream cheese blends
This how the perfect bagels are being prepared
If in the neighborhood ,you have to visit famous Katz’s Deli. The famous scene from the movie “When Harry met Sally” was shot there. Unfortunately, the sandwich Meg Rayan was eating while pretending to have orgasm now costs $10 and the orgasm is not guaranteed.
Oh yeah, the SECRET to the perfect New York bagel AND our pizza is…..the water. That’s right ,good old NY tap water makes our bagels and bialys the best in the world!
Well on Wednesday night you’re going to have deli from Barry’s. I was on a boat in Belgium and started chatting with a local woman who,when I told her I lived in Boston, said that she had spent a year in Boston once and there was a great deli called Barry’s – had I ever heard of it? I told her it was our family deli – where the deli for deli night, the ritual that kicks of the Thanksgiving eat-a-thon comes from. So forget about Katz’s 🙂 PS – I love bailies – who knew they were named for your home.