the sunday bagel

So usually, once a week on a Sunday (although I broke my rule this time and did it on a Saturday), I post the following:

Image may contain: food and indoor
A Montreal lox bagel in its natural habitat

Indeed, every time I have a bagel I do this. In years to come, I will be offered shots of bagels by Facebook when its machine learning algorithms identify that on this day several years ago I posted said picture. My Sunday afternoon snacks memorialized for all of eternity, or perhaps just as long as Facebook doesn’t get broken up by governments afraid about losing their place at the top of the heap (which they have already).

So why do I do this? Well, for starters and most importantly, Bross Bagels in Edinburgh is awesome. It appeared… circa 2017 in Portobello, the seaside portion of Edinburgh, and then was successful which allowed further branches to open in Leith Walk (my most common haunt out of all of them), and the West End. Why was it successful?

Many reasons: friendly staff, a funky atmosphere, but also that it’s the only place in Edinburgh that does authentic Montreal style bagels, and it does them excellently. The bagels come in a variety of wonderful flavours such as vegan, sesame, poppyseed and chipotle. The dough is cooked in the classic Montreal style, made from honey and eggs and baked in a wood-fired oven and made with sugar-infused water to ensure it has a sweeter taste. The Montreal bagel is also smaller than its relative, the New York bagel and is to date the only variety of bagel to have been consumed in space (taken there by Montreal-born astronaut Gregory Chemintoff on Shuttle flight STS-124). Montreal bagels are awesome.

When I moved to Edinburgh after I finished at Sussex University, I pined after the bagels I used to have at Bagelman, another great bagel emporium found in Brighton. London has many great bagel emporia due to it being the UK’s centre of the Jewish community (my favourite being Brick Lane Beigel Bake, a 24hr bagel bakery… heaven!), but until Bross opened its doors Edinburgh was sorely lacking a world-class bagel shop to go head to head with these titans of torus bread – and the capital of Scotland deserves no less than to have one of its own. Before Bross we had to put up with the chewy, bland stuff available from supermarkets… and now we have glorious Monteal bagels!

My favourite bagel (and indeed my regular order) is, well, somewhat sticking with Jewish tradition: the £5 cream cheese and lox bagel, with lemon and black pepper served in a sesame seed bagel. To me, this is the king of bagels and the perfect snack. The cream cheese, lemon, pepper and salmon all combine with the wonderful Montreal dough to provide one of the culinary highlights of my week. It sounds ordinary, and if I’d made it from stuff at the supermarket, it would be OK. With fresh ingredients in a just from the oven bagel, it becomes truly spectacular.

And if you don’t fancy that: there’s plenty more in the menu. The one that amused me the most is The Goy, a bagel consisting of bacon, eggs, Applewood smoked cheddar, latkes and rock sauce which is about the most treife thing you can get… bacon is off the menu for observant Jews by itself, but meat and dairy also isn’t kosher, with the commandment not to “boil a kid in its mother’s milk” repeated three times (Exodus 23:19, 34:26 and Deuteronomy 14:21) no less!

As much as I’d like to try that one, it would probably send my Jewish guilt into overdrive, but there’s plenty of others such as the Leither (jalapeno cream cheese, hot smoked salmon, crispy capers, bread & butter pickles, cracked black pepper) and the Montreal (cream cheese, lox, pickled red onion, capers, dill & squeeze of lemon) that you can try. And as well I think I remember seeing kosher bagels and challah bread being available if you’re of the observant Jewish persuasion and want to make sure that your lox bagel is 100% approved by Hashem…

So far, I’ve written several paragraphs extolling the magnificence of these bagels and I could write more about how much I love them, because I really do. But secondly, why I do this is because it’s kind of become something I do on the weekend to give myself a treat. Most of my week is devoted to deploying applications, fixing bad ones, responding to emails and chat members from various colleagues, attending meetings and being generally very busy. My current job is probably the busiest I’ve ever had, and it really forced me to look at how my life was before I started it and I don’t think I was taking good care of myself.

It’s very, very easy to get burned out in modern life: since the rise of the internet, and powerful handheld computers it’s easier and easier to get drowned in notifications and texts and follow the news and the latest tweets from Twitter and… you drown. Since the beginning of the year, I became aware that I was starting to have my own burnout. I was irritable, I felt stuck in life, and generally things weren’t going my way. I spent my time worrying about things like the politics of the Middle East, Brexit and also a thousand small things in my own life and most of the thoughts I had were just worrying about how I was going to get everything done.

To be blunt: I was fucking myself up, and it took a few things to happen in my personal life to make me realize this. This is about the closest I will ever come to talking about what goes on in my personal life, but suffice it to say I was getting too wound up by some things and I needed to reorder my personal life so that I could continue to do well in my professional one (and then sort out my personal life again). It’s a work in progress, but the custom I’ve developed of the Sunday (perhaps I should call it the Weekend as I went this Saturday) Bagel has proven to be a great part of that. I do a lot of life-admin on Sundays, but for 45 minutes or so I will head down to Bross Bagels on Leith Walk, order my delicious Montreal cream cheese and lox bagel, and just chill.

The Sunday Bagel has been hugely helpful, and part of getting myself un-stuck as I opined I felt I was earlier in the year. I’ve started coding games for fun again, and I feel that next Sunday, I might pick up my laptop and head down to Bross and see how a lox bagel affects my ability to code. I mean… coding AND bagels in the same place? To me, that’s heaven. And in the world we currently live in, 45 minutes of peace and delicious food is something that I for one certainly need.

And yeah, if you’re in Edinburgh, go give Bross Bagels a visit. You won’t be disappointed.

(Incidentally, I discovered that Bross Bagels do catering as well. This doesn’t have much bearing on anything at the moment, but if I ever have a wedding reception I apologize to my future wife and wedding guests for ignoring them and just sitting at a table stuffing my face with bagels… you were warned.)

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