As an expat, speaking poorly of German bread is practically sacrilegious. Lest I want the Ausländerbehörde to hunt me down and boot me from this fair land, I’ll hold my tongue on the topic of the German loaf, except to say that in living here, certain carb cravings are left unrequited. I’ve got one word for you: bagels.
Dense and chewy, with a shiny, toothsome crust, a proper bagel not only fills your belly, it should leave your jaw muscles slightly sore–in the best possible way. The chewy texture is what makes or breaks a good, proper bagel, the result of being boiled before baking. So no, I am not talking about the doughnut-shaped bread rolls that so often masquerade as bagels. Those fluffy, pallid, insipid fakers have as much in common with the bagel as neon-orange aerosol cheese has with a well-aged white cheddar.
I am talking about real, New York- or Montreal-style bagels, brought to North America in the 1880s by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. I am talking about the bagels at Two Planets, a newly opened bagel café in Neukölln, right next to the U8 Boddinstraße station. Praise be the bagel gods!
Two Planets’ bagel repertoire includes the requisite poppy seed and sesame seed bagels, as well as plain, “everything,” and rotating varieties like cinnamon raisin and blueberry. As every bagel fanatic will tell you, topping a bagel with anything besides cream cheese is just a waste of time, and at Two Planets you’ll find both plain and house-made flavoured cream cheeses to pick from. The unbeatable bagel combo, however, will always be bagel + plain cream cheese + lox (brined salmon). Two Planets uses the delicious, sustainably caught salmon produced by Glut und Späne in Markthalle Neun. I scarfed mine down faster than you could say, “Damn, that’s a good bagel” and seriously considered ordering seconds.
For those living on the other side of town, I’ve also heard good things about Fine Bagels, which operates out of the Shakespeare & Son’s bookstore in Prenzlauer Berg. Never managed to get up there, but I’m excited that a second branch will be opening soon in Friedrichshain, at Warschauer Str. 74. The more bagels in Berlin, the merrier. For the time being, though, I’m just happy to have a local dealer.
Two Planets: Hermannstr. 230 | U Boddinstraße | Facebook page