Food & Drink: Good taste: Oi! Bagel

Steve King is determined to bring us the bagel as it's known and loved in New York. Most Londoners relate this roll-with-a-hole to Brick Lane's all-night bagel bakeries, but Steve King has taken it upon himself to convince the British public that the bagel is a more exciting alternative to our undiscriminating love of soggy, over- chilled sandwiches. King is no stranger to baking, having successfully established several traditional bakeries, and can't really understand why bagels are not being guzzled in Britain the way they are Stateside. Of his recently completed fact-finding mission to the United States he says, "I couldn't believe how accommodating most of the big, bagel-producing companies were, they happily handed over their recipes which have probably been passed down over many generations." The origin of the bagel is still swathed in mystery. Most people are content to believe it was invented in America. There is, however, another school of thought: that the bagel originated in Poland. King relates the tale of a stirrup-shaped bread which was devised by an Austrian baker in 1683 as a tribute to the Polish monarch Jan Sobieski, who courageously kept the Turks out of Austria. But whatever its origins, King is sure that the secret of a good bagel lies in the cooking. Traditionally, bagels are first boiled and then baked to give them their characteristic chewiness. But King's company, Oi! Bagel, will only be steaming its bagels as this, apparently, produces a lighter texture which British people prefer. King doesn't mind whether we choose our bagels plain, onion, cinnamon and raisin, honey wheat, poppy, sunflower or sesame seed, just as long as we're prepared to eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Aoife O'Riordain

Oi! Bagel opens on 6 April at Unit 4B, Marylebone Station, London NW1

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