I grew up eating grocery store bagels. Not the ones in the bins that the grocery stores claim to bake fresh, but the ones sold in the stay fresh 6-packs that seems to always be on sale. I don't know if it's the packaging or the preservatives, but they never seem to go moldy. I'd eat them weeks after stocking up on them (on sale!) and would only throw them out after realizing how old they were.
Hey - I never claimed to be fancy or gourmet, but I do like a good bargain.
My zombie bagel eating ways ended shortly after my first trip to Kettleman's in the Glebe. The smell of the wood-fired oven, the warm bagels, the crispness.. I understood why people stood in line to order them fresh, nothing in a package could compare.
Fast forward a few years and I'm standing in line outside St-Viateur Bagel in Montreal waiting to grab a few bagels for breakfast. I now know the difference between a Montreal-style bagel (wood-fired oven, crunchier, sweeter) versus a New York-style (standard oven, softer, puffier) and I'm ready to order a few of the city's finest with my favourite accoutrements.
Except Montreal doesn't do accoutrements. Unlike New York City where every bagel shop is trying to up sell you with different cream cheeses, meats, smoked fish and vegetables, Montreal bagel shops just sell bagels. Tubs of cream cheese are available for purchase in the cooler, but dressing up your bagel is your responsibility.
If you've just visited St-Viateur Bagel that usually means sitting on a street bench and struggling with a plastic knife as the locals try to ignore you. For those who choose Fairmount Bagel (my favourite) you will suffer a similar fate which can be avoided if you visit nearby Caffe Grazie Mille. There you can sit at a table with comfortable chairs, use a real knife and, as an added bonus, have a fantastic cappuccino.
As delicious as Montreal bagels are I think I prefer New York's, if only for the accoutrements.