The Place: Bagel Oasis, 2112 N.E. 65th, 526-0525, RAVENNA.
Photo courtesy of Bagel Oasis.
The Hole: You may remember that Holey Shit has already visited Bagel Oasis, generally considered the most authentic of Seattle bagelries. Wanting to know more about just what gives this haven of East Coast-style boiled dough its cred, we're having a departure this week from the standard form. Owner Peter Ryan meditates on extravagant toppings and East Coast bias.The Shit:
Holey Shit: What's your bagel origin story?
Peter Ryan: I grew up in New York between Brooklyn and Long Island. We had a neighbor who owned a bagel shop in Long Island and my brother worked there. He did the leg work, opening a bagelry in Bellingham. In 1988 I moved out here with the sole purpose of opening up this store.
HS: What's your take on the tendency of East Coast transplants to say Seattle bagels aren't any good?
PR: It's the Yelp generation for you. Everybody with some kind of ax to grind or a picky problem goes on Yelp. I've never touted in my advertising that we're a New York bagel 'cause I've always kind of stayed away from places that are "we're all about New York" because we're not in New York.
HS: If you don't mind my asking, what's the secret to your bagels?
PR: There's not a whole heck of a lot of secrets. I post the recipes for all the doughs on the wall by the mixer. It's how you handle the dough. We use a very slow mixer that kneads the dough rather than whips it up. Our [bagel] appears smaller because it's denser. It's crispier on the outside. It's chewier on the inside. After a day on the shelf, a bagel should be used for a hockey puck. A bagel should not stay soft for two or three or four days.
HS: I noticed you don't have a lot of extravagant jalapeno, sausage pizza bagels on your shelves.
PR: When I first started, I had even less selection than I do now. But you listen to what customers want, so now we have sourdough, we have multi-grain, we have blueberry. Some wholesale accounts have pushed me to make a broader selection of flavors. Much as I feel like a heretic to do it, I have come out with a pesto bagel, a pizza bagel. When I want a bagel, I want onion, everything, pumpernickel. But if [pizza] is what people want and if that's what sells out here, than you have to get in that game too.
Ryan is sharing his bagel-making secrets at a FareStart class at the end of the month. He'll also be donating 5 percent of all bagel sales on Oct. 24 to the food-service employment training nonprofit.