Happy New Year! It is good to be back! After an extended winter dormancy, The Taste Chase is back and ready to go. So, after a very satisfying post-slumber stretch, I felt the need for some round, tasty love to start my year.
My breakfast journey starts with the humble but popular bagel — chewy, flavorful, homey, familiar, portable — all necessary elements, when you’re eating them on the run, in the car, on the train or at a desk.
I have stayed close to home since emerging from my hibernation habitat, preferring the tried and true. I jumped in the hoop dee and made the short drive to my favorite spot for round, doughy love, Udo’s Bagels, in the Manors Shopping Center in Lawrenceville. It’s a small store on the far side, on the corner complete with a red neon sign signaling where the good stuff is. I love this place. They know me well enough to often remember how I like my bagel when I do indulge myself — makes me feel like Norm from ”Cheers.”
Udo Dressler has been a bagel-monger for over 9 years and, although that may not seem like a long time to some, Udo has boiled, baked and flavored his way to creating some seriously tasty offerings. “I worked in the corporate world for a while and, when things started to change, business going overseas and all, I had to make some choices,” he relayed when asked why and how he got into the business. “My job had me traveling all over the country and Mexico. I asked my family where they wanted to move, but they didn’t. They wanted to stay here and that was not an option in the job I had.”
After extensive training and research, Dressler decided to go into the bagel business, an interesting choice after a work life on the corporate side, but one that is paying off wonderfully for this community.
“We make our bagels the old-fashioned way, the boil and then bake method,” he said. Apparently, there are places that use pre-shaped and seasoned bagels that are proofed on a rack and then baked. I asked Dressler what the difference was. With a knowing smile, slightly hidden on his face, he replied, “The method we use is more labor intensive and frankly, makes a better tasting bagel.”
And flavor is something he seems to have a handle on with over 12 varieties of bagels — from the standard plain bagel, to garlic, to asiago, to (one of my favorites) the bacon cheddar — all the usual suspects are there with a few newer tastes thrown in, like jalapeno, chocolate chip and cranberry.
“We make all of our own spreads, as well as all the salads,” he reassured me. I was glad to hear that they made their own tuna and chicken salad, along with cole slaw and a few others. I have not-so-fond memories of days working in a deli where we emptied premade salads out of a tub into bowls prepped for the display case. We’ve all seen those. These are not them. I was also glad to see that Udo’s Bagels has lox. I have only found the lox spread and was relieved to know I could get my smoked salmon fix here.
When he is not out front, composing the most popular breakfast sandwich (all hail the pork roll, egg and cheese!) on the bagel of your choice, he is in the back whipping up bagels the old-fashioned way to the praise of most of the surrounding area. And, if that isn’t enough, they make the biggest (bigger than your hand, seriously!) homemade chocolate chip cookies with just the right amount of chew and chocolate and big enough to split four ways so that everyone will be happy. Thanks for my everything bagel, toasted twice, with cream cheese, crispy bacon and tomato. Thanks Udo and I’ll see you in the morning. Udo’s Bagels, 160 Lawrenceville-Pennington Rd, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648 – 609-896-1616. Go get some yum!
I have an announcement. If you don’t already know…wait for it...The Gingered Peach has doughnuts. I’ll wait while you collect yourself. In the realm of round, doughy love, the doughnut reigns supreme in all its multitudinous incarnations. The issue is that around these parts there are few, if any, places to submerge your sweet tooth in yeasty goodness. Too many of us have been lulled into that certain pink chain store of doughnuts and coffee that litter our area solely because there were no other offerings. But, while many places have forsaken baking on their premises or baking at all, Joanne Canady-Brown and her crew of waist expandingly talented bakers have spent the past 16 month working on a doughnut recipe to present to their patrons.
“I love doughnuts,” Canady-Brown exclaimed. “They are my favorite baked good.”
The months of preparation have paid off and I was fortunate enough to taste a few of these creations. The old stalwart “glazed doughnut” (called the Bismark doughnut in the baking world), yeasty with its sugary glaze flaking off in my hands, was absolutely lovely. The first thing that you notice is that you have to shake the ghost of glazed doughnuts past. That is a hard task since that is all most of us know, but this glazed doughnut is a bit more substantial — meaning, a bit less air and a lot more love. It is a yeast doughnut that fills your mouth with not just substance, but flavor. Absent is that soaked-in-grease, mass produced flavor present in doughnuts popularly available.
I’m thinking she nailed it. In addition to the glazed, there was an old-fashioned cake doughnut primed for dunking and its chocolate cake glazed counterpart. The blueberry and strawberry glazed were a nice addition to the glazed repertoire with enough of their respective berries for you to notice but not be overwhelmed. The PB&J, a peanut butter yeast doughnut, filled with a strawberry compote and seductively dipped with a peanut butter glaze has just enough of everything to satisfy your inner 3rd grader – or a real 3rd grader. Like all the pastries at The Gingered Peach, the doughnuts are made with 100% all natural ingredients, no mixes, pure unadulterated.
“These are hand crafted doughnuts. We don’t use any machinery or any kind of mass production element,” I was assured.
That is good to know and keeps with Canady-Brown’s ideology of being a conscious baker. From what I could tell the doughnut gamble is paying off, sweetly. I met Ron and Marcy who were enjoying some other treats along with the new doughnuts. Ron, who was indulging in an old fashioned cake donut and a cup of coffee commented, “This is the best cup of coffee around. Not that bitter or burnt taste of some places.”
With a new espresso/latte machine and coffee supplied by a Pennsylvania roaster, “the Peach” is looking to settle into the comfortable niche of providing the best for their customers. The Gingered Peach, 2 Gordon Avenue, Lawrenceville, NJ 08638 – 609-896-5848. You should be there by now!!