Paradise Bakery Saves Me Some Dough

Yesterday morning one of the livelier students asked if anyone else in the room liked fish for breakfast. After the group gave him some fishy looks, one classmate said well, sure, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs is great. And of course I had to chime in that lox & cream cheese on bagels can’t be beat.

So by the time the class broke up around 8:30, I was craving lox and cream cheese. Where to find it, here in the cultural Sahara? In these parts, a Jewish deli is rare as a fur coat on a Mexican hairless pooch.

There’s a Paradise Bakery more or less on the way home, so I dropped by there to order up a bagel with lox and cream cheese.

Amazingly: no luck!

No, indeed.

The Paradise Bakery does have bagels and cream cheese, the latter in several persuasions. But they have no lox.

Briefly I considered: would a bagel with chive cream cheese suffice?

Uh…no. Somehow I’d scrounge something out of the mostly bare cupboard, something (unknown what) that surely would satisfy my craving for salty stuff.

As I climbed into the car to go on my way, it occurred to me that the Safeway a block or two down the road would surely have lox, cream cheese, and bagels. From deep inside the freezer, the coffee beans called me home.

So it was into the Safeway parking lot, making a fast run on the deli.

God help us. The guy behind the deli counter did not know what lox is!

Didn’t believe me about the “cultural Sahara” bit, did you?

He speculated that maybe the meat department would know where to find it, if the store carried it.

Uh huh. The store’s open 24 hours, but the meat department doesn’t open till 9 or 10 ayem.

But luckily, a butcher’s factotum was out in front, filling up the counter’s compartments with fresh ice. She directed me to the cabinet where little plastic bags containing tiny overpriced servings of lox hung in cooled air.

Not ideal. But better than nothing.

Choice of cream cheese: Philadelphia or Safeway brand knock-off, probably manufactured by Philadelphia. What the hell: get the cheapest.

I’ve never been nuts about bagels, and you can be sure the bagels available in a Phoenix supermarket are even gummier and more redolent of library paste than the most average of East-Coast bagels. So in the bakery department I picked up a loaf of fake “artisan” bread: air bread shaped like a bloated baguette.

Sliced and toasted: not a bad imitation of one or the ’tother.

From the fridge, I retrieved half a Bermuda onion…just the thing! Sliced off a bit of it, very thin. In the same cache, what should I discover but a half-full jar of capers!

Hot diggety!

Thick rounds of fake artisan bread, toasted and slathered with industrial cream cheese, topped with onions, capers, and industrial lox: not bad!

Pot of coffee brewed in a French press out of espresso beans: Elysian!

For what it would’ve cost to buy one breakfast bagel and a cup of bad coffee, I got enough ersatz bread, cream cheese and lox to make three or four breakfasts or brunches!

Food, wonderful food! So much more wonderful when you do it yourself…

:-)

 

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Linda August 17, 2011 at 7:32 am

Oh, does this bring back memories! Driving through Arizona with a friend about 15 years ago we found it impossible to get decent bagels. Being from Toronto and Chicago respectively, my friend and I just couldn’t understand why the grocery stores only had bread-like things labeled “bagels.” After all, there must have been some retired Jewish folks in the larger cities, right?

My friend was also stumped by regional communications one day as we picked up a few items at a small pharmacy in Flagstaff. “Do you want a sack?,” she was asked. She could not comprehend what she was being asked. The first time she respectfully asked to have the question repeated, I thought she just didn’t hear it. After she asked again and I saw the look on her face I intervened. “A bag, Tori. Do you want a bag?” She had never heard the word sack used like this before.

frugalscholar August 17, 2011 at 8:42 am

Many people join Costco for the cheap lox–maybe yours carries it.

Funny about Money August 17, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Yes, they have two brands, both very good. Alas, Costco isn’t open yet when my 7:00 ayem class lets out, and really I didn’t want to sit in the parking lot for an hour in 108-degree heat waiting for the doors to open. :-/

sandra j August 17, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Jeeze – you trying to ruin my diet Funny?

e August 17, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Did you say 108 degrees? I thought 98 was bad! Poor you, at least you got to enjoy a cheap, decent breakfast…

funny August 19, 2011 at 5:33 am

@ e: LOL! Actually, 108 is relatively cool here. To my mind, it’s not really hot until it reaches 110. Once you hit that level, you can’t tell any difference in the heat…another few degrees makes no difference.

Kerry Bresnahan August 17, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Lox in a small rural town in southern Ilinois is Very hard to come by, but occasionally Walmart will have 3 oz. for $5.98. YES! toasted rustic bread, store brand cream cheese and capers is my secret indulgence. (No onion for me.) I grew up in Chicago with a Jewish deli in every neighborhood (and a bakery, too) and never knew that most people don’t even know what lox is.
Still Hangin’ IN

funny August 19, 2011 at 5:32 am

@ Kerry: Walmart! I wouldn’t have thought of Walmart…ours is in the deepest Never-Heard-of-Lox parts of town. Could be, though…hmmmm…

We used to have a nice Jewish community in North Central; there was a big Jewish Community Center near the once-nice shopping mall that now houses Walmart, Target, and Costco. So if any of those folks are still lurking (I doubt it), it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the WM there could be carrying lox. Most or all of them moved to Scottsdale, though, following the white flight. There’s now a truly spectacular JCC out on Scottsdale Road.

Quest August 18, 2011 at 9:39 am

Boy oh boy that sounds so! good!!

funny August 19, 2011 at 5:35 am

@ sandra j: Fat loves company. :-)

Jan August 19, 2011 at 7:58 am

Miracle Mile—look it up!

funny August 19, 2011 at 8:49 am

@ Jan: ahhh….INSIGHT!!!!!

Yesh. I could’ve stayed on the freeway, dropped off at Highland, and been RIGHT AT THEIR FRONT DOOR. Ohhhhh why didn’t i think of that?

Actually, did you know Miracle Mile is no longer Miracle Mile? They’re still operating as a deli and seem not to have changed the menu, but they have some unmemorable new name. Don’t know if they changed hands and the new owners have the good sense not to change things, or if there’s some reason they had to abandon their decades-old brand name.

Patty August 19, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Trader Joe’s has some pretty good smoked salmon that I think that you would enjoy and the stores open at 8. Chompie’s Deli in the mall that you talk about has a pretty good lox and bagel plate. I haven’t had it in quite some time, but I remember it as being tasty, complete with the capers and onions. I’m recovering from colitis, and anything not involving white rice is sounding good right now.

101 Centavos August 21, 2011 at 4:59 am

Beautifully written, Funny! Fish for breakfast is not a bad deal. When traveling, breakfast is often best meal of the day, served at continental buffet breakfasts @ large hotels. Kippers and smoked salmon with lemon juice on crusty bread — good stuff to get powered up in the morning. Sadly, lox is a rare offering, but occasionally the ingredients are found separately, and you can build your own like you did.

Fuji August 21, 2011 at 8:53 am

Try curing salmon at home – it is SO easy and a pretty darn proximation of lox.

http://www.cookingforengineers.com/recipe/132/Gravlax

Donna Freedman August 22, 2011 at 5:28 pm

I am currently in New York City and was told that there’s a 24-hour bagel store a few blocks away.
Bagels as in “first boiled, then baked, the way God intended.”
I want to move here.

Cherleen @ yesiamcheap September 6, 2011 at 12:03 am

I would go for bagel with cream cheese. Just make sure it is Philadelphia, nothing more, nothing less. ;)

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