Picks of the Day: Bagels & Smoked Salmon

Slicing Smoked SalmonBagels and smoked salmon are a perfect pair, but you know you’re eating something special when each can stand strongly on its own, wowing you with taste and texture. And Fairway’s does just that, whether they’re your break fast meal, your breakfast, your brunch, lunch, snack, or dinner.

The first time I ate Fairway’s smoked salmon (the Fairway Smoked Nova Salmon house brand) from the case, I was in awe of how skillfully the deli guy cut paper-thin slices of the cured fish with a gentle yet steady, precise hand. Then he carefully layered them between plastic sheets, and wrapped it all up in a perfect package as if he were handing me a gift. And indeed he was. Those translucent slices had a silky, oily sheen, and I found the smoked salmon to be so soft on my tongue, before I knew it, I had devoured a quarter pound within 10 minutes. And, if you can believe it, I was taking it slow, savoring every nibble, relishing the lingering smokiness. When It was all finished, I came close to licking the plastic sheets that so carefully cradled these delicate yet bold slices to get one more taste, yet held back to crave the smoked salmon for next time, realizing that I would look like a rapacious glutton if someone walked in on me. Okay, maybe I did take a lick. Just one. Maybe two?

How does Fairway make it so good? It’s a heavily guarded secret that only a few people know. I’ve tried using all my powers of persuasion and my reporting skills to suss out an answer with no success. But what I can tell you is that our recipe was created more than a decade ago, and is always followed precisely to deliver that consistent and irresistible quality you can expect over and over again. The salmon is selected by Captain Tony Maltese, head of our seafood department, who is also a licensed commercial fisherman and Coast Guard Captain. Then it’s cleaned, filleted, cured with a mixture of salt, sugar, and spices, cooled for a couple of days, then smoked. (This Fairway smoked salmon video gives you a glimpse into this traditional process, our smoked salmon guide covers the different varieties we sell in the deli case, and our kosher guide details the several prepackaged kosher smoked salmon choices we offer.)

But of course, the salmon is also only as good as it is served. “Salmon slicing is a skill and art,” says our cheese buyer Avanelle Rivera, who you can also find helping out slicing smoked salmon at our Plainview, NY, store during the holidays. “I always get the most yield out of a side of salmon — paper thin, long slices, while cutting away the dry or brown middle.” She adds: “When I do anything, I think that I am doing it for me. If I give a customer a piece of cheese, it has to be perfect, and if I slice salmon, I want it to be also perfect.”

The Better Bagel

Fairway wouldn’t be able to live up to its NYC roots if it didn’t make a bagel to match that legacy. You can pick your favorite flavor, any flavor, and the experience will be the same. An airy bagel (you probably didn’t think this was possible) with a chewy not overly dense interior, and a crispy crust. How do we make them every day? With artistry in every touch. They’re cooked using the most authentic techniques, too, creating a stiff dough that is water boiled as opposed to steamed. A carousel bagel oven with a stone deck is also used, which contributes to the proper bake and expansion of the bagel, because of the intense heat transfer of the stone material.

It doesn’t get better than that folks. Pass the cream cheese!

What was your reaction the first time you tried our smoked salmon? What’s your favorite Fairway bagel?

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