Bagels outside of New York simply fall into a different category, a fact that any New Yorker will vehemently uphold (myself included). Slowly, though, that claim is becoming our defense mechanism against the truth: Proper bagels are popping up elsewhere.
It was bound to happen.
Somewhat to our chagrin, Bon Appetit has rounded up a list of the best non-New York bagels (which at first seemed like an oxymoron to me).
Flour Moon Bagels, the New Orleans bagel shop that blossomed during the pandemic, made the cut with their eye-catching bagel “tartines” and kettle-boiled, fresh-baked product.
"To be recognized on a national level is huge for us," said Breanne Kostyk, founder of the shop. "We put our heart and soul into this business."
With my admittedly nonsensical, self-imposed authority, I felt like it was my responsibility to let the people of New Orleans know if Flour Moon is doing it right. Who does Bon Appetit think they are to surpass my all-important bagel opinions? (Just kidding. Sort of.)
A pandemic pop-up
"NOLA made, NYC inspired," says Flour Moon's website. It's a good start, I'll admit.
"We wanted to incorporate the roots of New Orleans, and the aspect of dining with friends in a comfortable, well-designed setting," Kostyk said.
Kostyk opened Flour Moon as a pop-up during the pandemic with her partner, Jeff Hinson. Their storefront on North Dorgenois Street now offers an array of breakfast sandwiches, cocktails and open-faced bagels. Kostyk grew up in Connecticut, went to school in New York and has been in New Orleans for nine years.
A fine dining pastry chef for 10 years, Kostyk has been tweaking her bagel recipe for over seven of them.
Bon Appetit praised Flour Moon's experimental bagel tartines, particularly the Harvest Moon, topped with roasted carrot spread, tahini, fresh veggies and duqqa.
"It's been humbling and satisfying to see the community embrace the shop, and have positive responses from people from places like New York and New Jersey," said Hinson.
A New Yorker taste test
After a couple bites (actually, the very first bite of the bright and surprising kimchi cream cheese tartine special), I can wholeheartedly say I'm one of the fans.
The entourage of three other New Yorkers I brought as backup taste-testers agreed.
"It's not just a roll with a hole," one of them admitted. "This is, in fact, a bagel."
Rosemary salt and everything pumpernickel were done just right. The bagel was chewy, airy, crusty and the perfect vehicle for ungodly amounts of flavored cream cheese.
I guess we New Yorkers can't be the gatekeepers of the best bagels any longer (long, world-weary sigh).
The bagels don't belong to us anymore. The quintessential New York bagel is now one of many quintessential insert-city-name bagels. After a long reign, maybe it's time to relinquish bagel power to the rest of the country.
You wield it well, Flour Moon.