I first tried a St. Viateur bagel in Montreal. Some bakers claim Canada's bagels are more crispy and chewy than our New York variety, known for their sophisticated characteristics of being shiny and fat. Apparently such nuance in bagel texture has led one Brooklyn bagel shop to differentiate itself by claiming Montreal anscestry. And there's this Deli that actually imports St. Viateur bagels!
When I visited Montreal chef Michele Forgione's Osteria Venti, I do remembering enjoying a Canadian bagel and egg sandwich. It went down quite nicely with some espresso. Though I should of payed more attention to the bagel, my time was consumed chatting with the cooks, sharing tips on the finer points in making Pugliese bread.
Meanwhile, I did snap a photo, and remembered it had a different look from our New York bagels. Now, with H&H bagels closing and seemingly quick disappearance of Jewish bakeries in the Big Apple, it's hard to say where to find a traditional bagel. So I'm attempting a sourdough Montreal bagel, sans wood fired oven, with a nod to my friends up North.
There is slightly more color, sweetness and crisper texture in Montreal bagels. Perhaps it's the egg in the dough, honey or malt. And there's crispness from the wood fired ovens. I found a few sources on the web, from the New York Times, and The Fresh Loaf, adapting them for sourdough. Secrets and mystery aside, with the web and some calculations, anyone could make a bagel, even if you're not in Montreal. Good luck.