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Sunday, April 17, 2011


Sunday brunch: lox and – rye bread?

by Nanette Geller

We’re from New York City. That means Sunday brunch is the most important meal of the week. And the ultimate Sunday brunch is lox and bagels. OK, technically lox is salt-cured not smoked, but both our families preferred Nova Scotia salmon (“novi”) which is smoked. We still called it lox. Mandatory accompaniments included cream cheese, onions, coffee or tea, and the Sunday New York Times. Optional: black olives, capers, various fresh vegetables. We sometimes had other smoked fish as well (sable, whitefish, sturgeon). Bagels had to be purchased, still warm, on Sunday morning. And you ate at home, surrounded by family.

No problem finding smoked salmon in Honolulu. In fact, Costco has a pretty good smoked wild Alaska salmon. Bagels? That’s another story. First of all, these days it’s even hard to find a really good bagel in New York . They’re too big and too soft. A proper bagel should be chewy. And please, don’t even mention the weird flavors. Blueberry bagels? I’d sooner eat anchovy ice cream. There are a couple of places here that make passable bagels – not perfect, but they’ll do in a pinch. But they’re not open Sunday and a reheated bagel just isn’t the same thing. I pretty much gave up on enjoying lox & bagels on Sundays.

Fortunately, I had the idea of trying a dense rye bread, the kind that is often used with gravlax in Scandinavia. Not the same as a bagel, but equally delicious.

My other innovation is to substitute fresh goat cheese for the cream cheese. More flavor, lower fat. Not just “as good” but better.


lox 2


White plate: smoked salmon, dark rye bread, red onion

Metal plate (ok, it’s a pizza pan): goat cheese, pesto, lime wedges, capers

Red onion from Pit Farms, lime from Wailea Ag Group, pesto from J’s Seasonings, mizuna from MA'O, radishes from SKA, pomelo from Milner Farm.


lox 1


Here the emphasis is on the fresh veggies.

Japanese cucumber and red onion from Pit, baby romaine from Otsuji, hakurei (Japanese turnips) and French breakfast radishes from MA'O.

On the plate with smoked salmon and goat cheese: key lime from Wailea Ag.

That huge tangerine is a Dekopon we bought at Whole Foods. Good, but we’ll stick to local citrus. Maybe someone will grow it here.

The coffee is an Americano which we prefer to regular brewed coffee. We buy our espresso beans from Koko Crater at KCC.



black bread


This is the best brand of dense-style dark rye I’ve found.

It’s imported from Germany and keeps unopened for months, but refrigerate after opening. It’s already sliced – I cut the slices in half for a more convenient serving size.

I used to find it in a couple of places but now the only place I see it is Whole Foods. There are several flavors, all good.

this german quasi-rye bread would be a laugh to people who actually eat real rye bread. at about the same level as the costco donuts masquerading as bagels.
Sounds like a delicious Sunday brunch!
Actually, the Mestamacher german rye bread is closer to the original rye than anything we have in America. super dense with higher ratios of grain then milled flour.. vollkornbrot and schwarzebrot are German staples. Nevertheless, NOTHING beats a fresh REAL NY bagel.. my mouth is watering just thinking about it.. when I go to NY I usually try to bring back a dozen and freeze them, spritz with water, put in a cold oven and preheat to 350.. when the oven beeps the bagels are almost as good as fresh... been experimenting with making my own ...yummy post Nan! Can't wait for next Sunday :)
vollkornbrot is not a real rye bread but a mixed grain bread. in any event, germany is not the first or the only place to have real rye bread cultures and the mestamacher is not qualitatively much closer to the real rye breads i'm personally familiar with, although reasonable people can differ. after all, costco continues mass production of those donuts that people eat like bagels.
This looks like a delicious way to start off the day! The only thing that's could make it more perfect would be a sunny-side-up egg, but that's just my opinion... I can't seem to find Mestamacher anywhere. What's the next best thing you've found?
~Nancy Lewis~
Hi Nancy. Where are you located? I buy it at Whole Foods Kahala. If you can't find Mestemacher, look in health food stores for a vollkornbrot or other dense bread with whole kernels. The ingredients in the sunflower seed bread in the photo are: whole kernel rye, water, wholemeal rye flour, sunflower seed, iodized salt, oat fiber, yeast. It is dense but not crisp. I prefer the breads with whole kernels to those made with just whole grain flour such as pumpernickel.

If you're not near Whole Foods, you could try the internet. Since it is well wrapped and keeps for a long time, it should ship well.

Note the spelling (Mestemacher, not Mestamacher). Click on the photo to enlarge.

And welcome to The Free Range Gourmet. I'll be posting again soon.
I think rye bread is better than eating bagels with smoked salmon. If you are from New York, better options is to get good Lituanian or Ukrainian Rye bread varities from Russian/Eastern European stores. Some knowledge is needed due to proliferation of ersatz and cheapened varieties that are produced in Brooklyn. There is a great Borodinskiy bread made with formula and yeast starter from the old country. The yeast starter is the trick and can't be substituted with anything local. The German rye shown here is OK if nothing else is available but is a far cry from real rye. No texture, lumpy and too sour for most tastes. Bagel is fine if you can take the sweet doughy texture but I hate the sugar boost and overall stuffiness that detracts from real taste of good salmon. Try to enhance the sandwich with salmon roe - that will magnify the taste 10x and is true heaven due to symbiosis of taste. I also like to enhance the sandwich with dill and red onion or even scallions. American pumpernickel is a joke - can't understand why people have to use caramel coloring to hide white bread. For a true experience serve good lox / salmon with chilled quality vodka. Vodkas that are not too dry and with good sweet finish is preferable. I like Finlandia or Honey Pepper from Nemiroff. Cheers !
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