I had my first bagel in college. A nice couple in Berkley had a quaint bagel shop and started baking at 3:00am every day. I was usually wandering back to the dorm at this time. I loved the doughy goodness of these rings of love, but found my real nirvana when they made me try a nova lox bagel. To the younger version of me, smoked salmon, crème cheese and capers seemed like a ridiculous combination. My first bite, I heard angels sing. Thus started a life long search for that authentic taste again. Imagine my surprise at finding this perfect combination at a wonderful local bagel shop.
The House of Bagels owner Mike moved to the Central Coast with the idea starting a boil and bake bagel shop in San Luis Obispo and getting out of the high tech world creating a more fulfilling business with better work/life balance. He is making bagels correctly. Many bagel shops have moved to a steam and bake way of producing more bagels in a shorter time and at a substantially lower cost. Steaming is just not the same as boiling a bagel. Boiled bagels have a more defined and chewy crust, are smaller in size, but not weight. because they are handled more in the process the bagel is not uniform in size and shape. This adds to the uniqueness of the bagel and allows the baker to adjust each batch depending on temperature, humidity, and density of the dough. House of Bagels offers a large selection of breakfast bagels available with scrambled egg, cheese, and a variety of meats or lox with different flavor Schmears (flavored cream cheeses such as garlic-herb, chive, veggie, Lox, etc.).
My first stop there, I ordered the Eggs & Hotties as the cutie behind the counter told me it was their best seller. On a Sesame flavored traditional water boiled bagel they added a scrambled eggs, pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, hot sauce and sausage. I was so impressed, I took a dozen bagels to go to make sure I wasn’t imagining the authentic way these orbs of goodness were prepared. Everyone agreed these were the best bagels they had in the area, so we all returned the next day.
I saw the huge slab of fresh smoked salmon in the case and knew what I was ordering. The Lox Bagel is cold smoked salmon (8 generous ounces of fresh Nova Lox) served with a plain schmear of crème cheese, wonderfully salty capers, large slices of garden fresh tomatoes, and red onions. It is served open faced and was a masterpiece. My hunny went for the Everything Bagel with nova lox shmear, which although a hint of what I ordered, he was pleased. Our son in law had the toasted Onion Bagel with sliced turkey breast, cream cheese, fresh avocado slices, and lemon pepper seasoning. This was large and flavorful enough to satisfy him (a feat not often accomplished). My daughter went for the Red Hat combination with scrambled eggs, crème cheese and a large beefsteak tomato slice. We were all delighted with the breakfast sandwiches and the delicious coffee.
We discuss if bagels were just donuts without the sugar coating. I explained that with the combination of proteins, nothing gets your day balanced like a breakfast bagel sandwich. It is the right blend of carbs and protein to help you power through your morning. I lectured them to respect the bagel done correctly and don’t even compare it to the deep fried cousin.
While we discussed, the owner came to show us his creation, a Bagel Crust Pizza. He explained that House of Bagels has done the impossible and gone beyond the ordinary bagel by created an enchanting pizza crust made from wholesome bagel dough. You can choose from many bagel dough crusts including Everything (with onion, salt, sesame and poppy seeds), Sun Dried Tomato, Jalapeno or Wheat. We ordered the Seven Cheese Combination. The seven cheeses include two Mozzarellas, Romano, Parmesan, Cheddar and two kinds of Provolone, sprinkled with a 2-year-old Parmesan Reggiano. Added to that is fresh tomatoes, black olives, green, yellow and red peppers, artichoke hearts, red onions, and white mushrooms. It is a Take and Bake affair and we all were in pizza heaven that night for dinner.
House of Bagels is one of the last bagel shops that bake fresh water bagels daily. They use a traditional process and ingredients that never compromises on quality and authenticity. It is located in San Luis Obispo at 158A Higuera Street (between South and Madonna) or you can call them at 805-594-1818. They are open Monday through Friday from 6:30 am to 6:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm.