Saturday morning I was shopping at Tower Grove Farmers’ Market and I stopped at 222 Artisan Bakery’s stand. I try to stop by as early as I can because they often sell out of their baguettes by 10 a.m.
This time, they were already sold out of baguettes when I got there at 9. I was a little crestfallen and then, I noticed some bagels in the corner. I love bagels but I have yet to find a really good one in the Midwest. Most of them are too dry and salty and lack the soft, doughy, yeasty quality that you find in New York bagels.
Still, I decided to take a risk and buy one. They looked good and when the cashier handed the bagel to me, it was still warm. I took that as a good sign. I decided to make a bagel sandwich for lunch with it and I challenged myself to get all the ingredients at the market.
The tomatoes and cucumber were easy. I bought some good looking ones from one of my favorite farmers at the market. Then, I went on a slow search for something resembling cream cheese. I was going to settle for goat cheese when I stumbled upon Local Harvest’s stand. Local Harvest is a grocery store located not too far from the Saturday market.
The stand was selling quark, or German spreadable cheese. I bought a tub of herbed quark and brought it home. I sliced my bagel in half, toasted it, and thinly sliced some tomatoes and cucumbers. I spread a generous amount of quark on each toasted bagel and layered it with tomatoes and cucumbers, and sprinkled black ground pepper on top.
I can honestly say that this is one of the best things I’ve eaten all summer. It’s sad in a way because I’ve spent so much money on fancy dinners, but also uplifting because it made me realize the importance of simplicity. When you have good, fresh produce, you don’t need much else.
Also, bread (or in this case, bagels) makes such a big difference. I like to think of bread as the foundation of a good sandwich. If it’s bad, the whole thing falls apart, just like a house would if the foundation was crumbling.
222‘s everything bagel is soft yet substantial. It could take a run through the toaster oven and still hold up to a generous dollop of quark. I’m usually not a fan of everything bagels but this one changed my mind. It added some flavor to the sandwich without my needing to sprinkle on additional spices. It was an ideal base.
Also, let’s talk about the quark for a second: It’s made by Marcoot, one of the best local creameries. You can tell that it’s made fresh because it’s light and flavorful, not cottony and heavy like some highly processed cheeses. I got enough quark in a container for three bagel sandwiches, which was perfect for me. Too often I buy a big tub of something and then I end up forgetting about it in the fridge.
So yeah. I guess what it boils down to is, quality is important. You can pay for quality at a restaurant, or, if you’re adventurous enough, you can create it in your own kitchen. It doesn’t take much: Good vegetables and fruit, quality cheese, and handmade bagels are the keys to success.
Before I start sounding like a motivational speaker for bagel sandwiches, I’ll leave you with this song.