The Jewish diaspora is the kind of phrase you only use in college, and even then you’re not sure what it means. But I know this much: Jews in Boca Raton, Florida make good bagels. I’ve long sung the praises of Bagelworks on Glades Road near the Turnpike–my favorite bagel destination when I visit home (I always get “the works” with two scoops of white fish and one scoop of nova spread)–but, traditionally, my mom always buys bagels for the house from Way Beyond Bagels on Jog Road, next to the Starbucks.
I’ve written about Way Beyond Bagels once before. Celebrated pastry chef Shuna Lydon, from Peels in New York, once urged me to order an egg onion bagel from Way Beyond. I had my mom pick one up and did a post about it; but I never actually went to Way Beyond to experience the place in person. This post is about my trip there last Thursday.
Walking into Way Beyond, you’ll notice the lime green walls and glass cases filled with Jewish splendors:
Here are my parents next to a pile of cookies that you can take home in plastic cartons (my mom used to buy all sorts of cookies like that when I was growing up–black and white cookies being the primary example):
Moving along the line, you’ll see such strange, modern delicacies as “The Bagel Dog” (note that it’s made with Hebrew National hot dogs):
And, for the dieters in the bunch, egg white salad (which to me looks as appealing as dietetic cottage cheese):
Then of course there’s the ruggalah:
And my favorite Jewish delicacy of all time–the rainbow cookie:
I don’t know why they’re called “Rainbow Marzipan Bars”–that’s incorrect, Way Beyond Bagels. Those are rainbow cookies even if they’re shaped like bars. I want to eat one RIGHT NOW.
The coffee options at Way Beyond Bagels would send any coffee connoisseur into a tailspin:
Swiss Mocha Almond, Decaf Vanilla Nut, Hawaiian Coconut, Decaf Chocolate Raspberry and Hazelnut—barristas, avert your eyes.
But one doesn’t go to Way Beyond Bagels for the coffee, one goes to Way Beyond Bagels for the bagels. My dad and I both ordered the same thing: a toasted everything bagel with cream cheese, nova, tomato and red onion.
You’ll note, as you drool over that picture (for indeed, that simple combination of a good bagel with good nova and good cream cheese is one of man’s great culinary achievements) that our bagel-maker forgot the all important red onion. I sent my mom to fetch some because she’s good at pushing her way to the front of the line and asking for the red onions that were supposed to be on our bagel and which we paid for but weren’t there when we unwrapped it:
If there’s a symbol of my childhood in Boca Raton, that would be it. If my grandmother and mother were planets, they’d both be Saturn surrounded by rings of red onions. Red onions go in everything: from salads to sandwiches to omelets or on the side of omelets piled up with red tomatoes. Those red onions are as essential to the proper bagel experience as the horah at a Bar Mitzvah. With the red onion carefully added, I must say that the Way Beyond Bagels bagel was really sublime. Especially when washed down with freshly squeezed orange juice:
Back here in L.A., I’m not wanting for much–there’s good coffee (though Decaf Chocolate Raspberry is hard to find), good produce, good wine. But there’s nothing like the good bagels you’ll find when you visit my parents in Boca Raton, Florida. Just don’t skip the red onions or you’ll miss the whole point.