I said I’d do it, so I did it. A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how I was finally going to just make a video and not let excuses (lack of a video camera/microphone/skills/confidence, you name it) get in the way. When I decided this, I happened to be going to Burlington, Vermont the next day, and it was an opportune moment to try to take some video. Having read my blog post about my favorite bagel in New York City, and knowing that I love a good bagel, a friend who had gone to school in Burlington suggested I try the bagels from Myer’s Bagel Bakery while I was there.
But when we pulled into a deserted parking lot with no real sign of any stores, I was confused. The bakery stands alone, tucked away from the commercial area of Church Street in downtown Burlington. Those that come here are locals, friends of locals, or foodies and yelp users who have found the place based on its ratings and press. The place isn’t much to look at, and doesn’t have much in the way of atmosphere or decor, making it all that much more quaint in my opinion. The no-frills shop does one thing, and they do it very well: Montreal style bagels. The Montreal version are distinct from their New York ilk because they’re slightly sweeter, and baked in a wood-burning oven. Chewy and dense, with a slight crisp to the outside, the bagels are a bit smaller with a bigger hole in the middle.
Upon walking in the bakery, Lloyd Squires, the owner and man behind the counter rolling the bagels, greeted us with a warm smile, immediately offering us a hot-from-the-oven bagel to try for free. When we tore it in half to share, steam rose up from the bagel. Made from Lloyd’s secret dough recipe, then hand-rolled, boiled in a mixture of water and honey, and baked in a wood-fire oven, these bagels tasted of craftsmanship. They were definitely some of the most unique and best tasting bagels I’ve ever had.
The thing about Myer’s Bagels, though, is that it’s not your typical New York style bagel deli. Don’t expect to walk in and order a bagel with lox, or schmear, or anything really with salt. Lloyd doesn’t use any salt in the dough, and hardly any in the seasonings, so although the texture of the bagels is absolutely divine, I did find myself wanting a little more salt on my everything bagel. (This is probably the American in me wanting more sodium. A Norwegian friend once told me that she almost never cooks with salt, just uses fresh herbs and other dried seasonings. The New York salt bagel is probably an abomination to most people around the world, and it is actually too salty for my taste. But sea salt is just so… damn… good!) But I digress. What Myer’s bagels lack in salt, they make up for with other seasonings. The sesame seeds, poppy seeds, steak seasoning, onion bits, and other ingredients he uses literally coat the entire outside of the bagel, creating a veritable shell of seasonings. You won’t ever find any of those everything bagels where the entire bottom side is bare here. But you also won’t find a guy who will cut open your bagel and scoop two huge dollops of scallion cream cheese on either side before squeezing it together and wrapping it up for you. Lloyd runs a pretty simple operation, and most of his customers get bagels to go and bring home. If you order a bagel with cream cheese, you’ll get a small container of plain cream cheese along with your bagel, and you’ll have to spread it on yourself. If you want flavored cream cheese, you can buy larger, pre-made tubs of it from the refrigerator. But these are less complaints than observations. I really thought these bagels were extremely well-made and when eaten fresh, definitely a contender for the best bagel in my lifetime.
Probably the things I loved most about Myer’s Bagels, though, were separate from the food. The place was obviously well-loved by the greater Burlington community. Lloyd and his crew (which, from what I could tell, was just a couple other people helping to man the register while Lloyd manned the oven) were extremely warm, and familiar with almost every customer that came in. This is the type of place where you come in asking for a bagel and you end up chatting about your spouse and kids. Lloyd himself was a big teddy bear of a guy, with an endearing Canadian accent (Montreal pronounced more like “Muntreal”) and a constant grin underneath his mustache. You couldn’t help but like him right away. Jovial and friendly, Lloyd was very willing to answer questions I had about the bakery. You could see he had worked hard his whole life, but loved the bakery and beamed with pride as he talked about his bagels, which he brought from his native Montreal. I felt like Lloyd would be the perfect subject of my video, so I went back the next day. Lloyd welcomed me to film him talking about his story, all the while diligently making bagels.
So without further ado, I’ll let the video do the rest of the talking. (Keep in mind that I shot this on my little point-and-shoot camera. Also sorry I look like such a hot mess–I had literally just rolled out of bed to shoot this in a rush before having to get on the road to come back home!) Please let me know what you think!