The Taste Chase: Bagels and Doughnut and Bagels, oh my!! (Part 1)

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.”  

Matt Fried with his boss, bagel master, Udo Dressler
Matt Fried with his boss, bagel master, Udo Dressler

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.

Joanne Canady-Brown with her grandmother watching over her at The Gingered Peach“I wanted to make the absolutely best doughnut I could make,” Canady-Brown continued, knowing that we can find mediocrity almost everywhere in the doughnut world.  

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.

Ron enjoying the sweetness of retirement at The Gingered Peach
Ron enjoying the sweetness of retirement at The Gingered Peach

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!!

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  1. Wow. I did not know until now that I needed to go somewhere new for bagels and doughnuts. I have a short memory when it comes to addresses, but a long one when someone mentions cheddar and bacon in one sentence! Being stuck, as you so sweetly (pun intended)put it, on the pink store for what used to be a once-in-a-blue-moon Sunday morning after church treat, I lost touch with the baked-in-the-back flavors of hand made foodness. Thank you for pointing out these places to take my business (and tastebuds)!

    • Scott, you have to go to The Gingered Peach for those doughnuts. It’s like meeting someone you’ve been searching for, for a long time. (cue romantic music) You stare in disbelief for a moment and then you indulge, deeply and find yourself, swept away, beguiled, amazed that something could be just so good without being over the top sweet. You draw back….indulge again and wonder how you could have let the “pink place” trap in it’s mass produced sugar clutches
      you like that for so long. Go Scott, go quickly. You’re welcome.

  2. Although I’m not a lover of all things breakfast, bagels are my sweet spot. Looking forward to giving a new place a try. Thanks for sharing, hope you stay on the savory breakfast trail, I’ll be following your bagel crumbs!

  3. Ohhhhh, I’m craving a chewy delicious bagel now! You beautifully described these luscious treats and I know your readers will make a beeline to check out this sweet & savory goodies!

  4. The Lemon Ricotta Pancakes at It’s Nutts are tasty! I saw the Cafe72 menu and they have a lot of breakfast goodies that I’d like to try…deciding where to being is the only issue.

    • I’ll have to check out “It’s Nutts” one of these days. I make some killer Lemon Ricotta Pancakes so we shall see. Thanks for the suggestion.

  5. You make me wanna drive ‘cross town and throw down on some bagels and doughnuts! I’m really excited to have the cheddar-bacon, and I’m gonna try a plain the way you had the everythang…! Thanks for another inspiration to deliciousness.

    • Thanks Katie!! When you need to escape from New York come down to Mercer County. I’ll leave a doughnut out for ya…or not. I’m thinking not.

  6. I choose savory over sweet any day–and bacon makes everything better–so the cheddar bacon bagel sounds quite lovely! From your write-up The Gingered Peach sounds like it might rival my hometown fav (a certain doughnut chain from the South) for those times I do have a taste for something sweet. Thanks for chasing down some good eats!

    • Oh please Robin…if the donut chain you are speaking of has green and white as it’s primary colors, just let it go now. If you make it up this way on a Sunday, Joanne, at The Gingered Peach takes her already fabulous cinnamon buns(nothing like cinn-a-bon) and tops them with bacon. BACON. Well worth it. I was in there recently and someone asked about the bacon topped buns. When they were told that they do that only on the weekend, the disbelief on their face was heart-breaking…like someone shot the dog. It’s that serious…but you don’t have to take my word for it.

  7. Wow, Renata, makes me want to move to Hopewell Valley just for the eats! As a self-confessed breadaholic, I think one should traverse the globe in search of good bread of every stripe…now did you also mention pork in conjunction?

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