The man that procured the spread for HRU’s Live from The Deck event, explains the difference between Montreal and New York bagels and talks about the rise of the flagel.
by Dave Briggs
Few people are as well positioned to discuss bagels as Murray Brown. He grew up in Montreal — one of the world’s greatest bagel cities — and lives part of the year in New York City, home to what many say are the best bagels on the planet.
“I’m kind of a self-proclaimed bagel expert,” Brown said. “Actually, Montreal bagels and New York bagels are two different things. They are both called bagels, but it’s like saying that standardbreds and thoroughbreds are both horses. They are totally different and I think they should be judged differently. They both have their pluses and, as far as I’m concerned, the Montreal bagels have no minuses, but that’s the way I see it.
“When I go to Montreal, I always bring six or seven dozen back. We freeze them.”
For the second year in a row, Brown was asked by HRU to procure the breakfast spread for visitors to The Deck at Sunshine Meadows the day before the annual Hambletonian Society winter meeting in the area. He did not disappoint.
“It’s become THE place, certainly for me. Saturday mornings here are pretty unique,” Brown said of The Deck. “It’s a gathering for horsepeople, new people and old people, people who just love to watch horses, people who have a significant interest in the game. I’m usually here, probably three or four times a week, but I never miss Saturdays.”
Brown explained the evolution of having food at The Deck on Saturdays.
“Myron (Bell) started bringing coffee and I started bringing bagels and different things evolved and it’s become THE place to be,” Brown said. “It used to be bagels and cream cheese, then we starting bringing some nova and different times of cream cheese. Frankie Antonacci doesn’t like his bagels with cream cheese, so he demanded butter, so we bring butter. Then we started bringing fruit and, the last few years, (HRU) started to bring champagne and we had mimosas. Each year, I try to figure out something different. This year, I brought assorted cakes. I don’t know how they went over, but there’s always something new. It’s kind of fun. I love to shop. I’m a woman in disguise.”
This year’s offerings also included something called a flagel — essentially a flat bagel without the extra fluffiness.
“Somebody came up with the idea, ‘Why go through all the trouble of scooping them, just try to make a flat bagel.’ Thus, the evolution of the flagel,” Brown said.
Saturday’s gathering was the best Brown said he’s ever seen at The Deck.
“Without a doubt, this is the biggest crowd we’ve had here. It’s a great group of people and it’s really been gratifying,” he said. “It’s a small thing, but it’s fun. It really attracts interest. There are often owners that come down here and they may only be here on a Saturday. They enjoy it. As much as it is watching the horses, it’s also a social gathering… schmoozing and lies.”
And bagels of all shapes, sizes and flavors.