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At Brendel's Bagels, I'm crying in my bialy

The bialys are big, and the whitefish salad

The bialys are big, and the whitefish salad has too much mayonnaise, at Brendel's Bagels in Hauppague, March 13, 2014. (Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)

And now a word from the quality-control patrol.  

If I pass Brendel’s Bagels while driving along Route 110 in Huntington Station or Route 111 in Hauppauge or Old Country Road in Westbury, I’ll usually pick up a little tub of the excellent whitefish salad. If I’m not on my way to or from a meal, I’ll eat it while I drive. (Sorry, Officer.)

This morning in Hauppauge I had a little extra time, so I ordered whitefish salad on a toasted bialy and ate it at a table in the store. It’s a good thing I wasn’t driving because I might well have run off the road. What happened to the whitefish salad I put on my “Best Bites of 2011" list, “the incomparable whitefish salad, made with nothing more than smoked whitefish and enough mayo to keep it together”? Today’s salad still had big shards of whitefish, but they were trapped in way, way too much mayonnaise. I am hoping this was the result of a new prep cook and doesn’t reflect a whitefish-salad policy shift at Brendel’s.

The bialy didn’t help matters. A bialy, for the uninitiated, is a plain, chewy yeast roll, similar to a bagel. But whereas a bagel has a hole and is boiled before being baked to give it that distinctive, glossy finish, a bialy has only a depression in the middle (usually filled with onion and/or garlic and/or poppy seeds) and is just baked. You can eat a bialy plain, but the best way to enjoy it is to split it, toast it and bring on the butter, cream cheese, what have you. Think of a bialy as a Yiddish English muffin.

Bialys are not widely available, but when you find them they are usually good, unlike bagels, which are ubiquitous, and usually too big, soft, doughy and studded with all sorts of things like blueberries and chocolate chips that don’t belong in them.

The gentleman behind the counter at Brendel’s told me, proudly, that the bialys were made on the premises, but I would not have been so proud of such a big, puffy, soulless bialy — a bialy that seemed to be on the same perfidious road that has led the bagel astray.

Honestly, sometimes I do not have the emotional energy to eat breakfast.

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