The essential 2004 guide to French food and culture in Toronto

Did you know?

While it is true the bagel doesn’t have French roots, you\’d be hard-pressed to find a Quebecker who hasn’t embraced this dense, round, holed bread as much as the croissant. Originally derived from the culinary history of Russian and European Jews, the history of the bagel in Canada can be traced to 1919, when a Jewish immigrant by the name of Isadore Shiafman opened his first bagel shop in Montreal on St-Laurent Street. This was followed by a second shot in 1949 on Fairmount Street, a region that would become known as the bagel district. There are bagels, and then there are Montreal-style bagels. Their distinctive taste and texture is achieved by a process of hand-rolling, boiling and baking in a wood-burning oven. Montreal-style bagels are exactly what real bagels are meant to be – slightly chewy, a little sweet and perfectly sprinkled with sesame or poppy seeds. for many years, the only hope Montreal expats living in Toronto had of satisfying their bagel cravings was to stock up by the dozen with each trip to la belle Province, then deep-freeze this manna from heaven, to be savoured on special occasions only. Mais, enfin! There is a small but steady supply of Montreal-style bagel shops right here in the city for your convenience and continuous enjoyment.

THE BAGEL HOUSE

1584 Bayview Avenue

416 481-8184

Monday-Saturday, 7-7

Sunday 7-6

1722 Avenue Road (corner of Fairlawn Avenue)

416 781-0032

Monday-Saturday 6:30-7

Sunday 6:30-6:30

Good Bread

Montreal ex-pat Jessie Sahdra has 17 years’ experience in some of the most popular bagel shop in Quebec, and it shows. There are only a handful of places in Toronto that make authentic Montreal-style bagels, with their distinctive texture, taste and preparation, and The Bagel House is one of them. Mr. Sahdra\’s mastery of his art is evident with every bagel he produces. The bagels at The Bagel House come in 12 or so flavours, although purists will likely stick to the sesame or poppy varieties!