Tuesday, May 4, 2010

LA Challah and Hummus Hunt - Part II

The Los Angeles challah and hummus hunt continues. Last Friday's stop came courtesy of a purveyor that specializes in that other specialty of the Jewish bread baker - the bagel.

According to my research, the Bagel Factory not only makes some of best bagels on this here Left Coast, but it also makes a pretty mean challah (including a chocolate chip version - an idea that I find simultaneously tempting and tawdry.) So we zipped over to try their wares.

First, the challah. Compared to our previous almost Zomick's worthy experience at Schwartz's, this loaf was a bit disappointing. The Bagel Factory version was good, but a little drier than I'd like, without the satisfying chewiness that generally comes with the egg (versus water) variety of the braided bread. However, once we got further into the loaf it got better and better. And by Monday afternoon, when I grilled up a couple of slices to make Daniel a chicken sausage with pineapple salsa sandwich, it was downright delicious. (And the half-sized versions that I noticed and squeezed as we exited the store seemed moister and squishier than the full-sized kind that we had already purchased.)

While Bagel Factory did offer it's own version of hummus, there was another item on the menu that required our attention instead. Whitefish salad. As Zomick's is to challah, Russ and Daughters' whitefish salad is to, well, whitefish salad. Creamy, fishy, a little sweet, a little tangy, it may well be my favorite food in the world. Especially with a schmear on a bialy or a Bagel Hole bagel, with a ripe tomato and an onion slice. Oh my lord, I'm getting hungry.

Anyway, so good is this salad, that to be honest, I don't even hunt for other versions to rival it. I know they will only disappoint ( a recent trip to Susan Feniger's Street, where I sampled the whitefish salad on a pretzel roll, nearly broke my heart.) However, the version at Bagel Factory looked kinda good, and when Daniel decided to order it on an everything bagel, I was a happy nibbler (while nursing my own ridiculously good container of hearty, chunky lentil soup.)

The whitefish bagel sandwich was pretty darn good. While the salad didn't have the complex layers of flavor that my old friend Russ and his trusty daughters offer up, it was a very solid showing. Not overly rich like some varieties, allowing the smoky fish flavor to really dominate. The bagel had a decent chew, and wasn't the kind of freakishishly puffy blimp-style popular in so many parts of the country.

In fact, the everything bagel that came with my lentil soup was good enough to eat on its own...

But it was even better with the bits of fallen whitefish that I scavenged from the white deli paper of Daniel's sandwich after he was done. And yes, I admit, I even licked said white deli paper. I would hate for good fish to go to waste.