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Appetites: Don't settle for bad bagels. Here's how to find the 'real deal'

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Bagels from Meyvn restaurant
Bagels from Meyvn restaurant, located in Uptown Minneapolis at Lake and Bryant.
Photo by Tj Turner, courtesy The Growler

James Norton, food editor at The Growler magazine, has some strong opinions on bagels.

"I'm a descendant of bagel makers a few generations back on my mom's side of the family, and for the six years I was living in Boston," he said. "I usually just made my own because I didn't like any of the local offerings. I'll get angry at a bad bagel."

As far as Norton is concerned, you can't call what you're eating a bagel unless it was boiled in water before it was baked, "otherwise it's just circular bread."

"A good bagel has got some chew to the exterior, it's dense without being brick-like. It'll stand up to toasting, but when it's fresh you can have it just as it is," he said.

Most of the mass-market bagels you find in the grocery store don't come close to the real thing. Norton says the fakes give themselves away by being to big, chewy, doughy or light.

"Bagel culture" has been a big part of the Twin Cities for a long time, Norton said, but there have been some recent developments.

The newly opened Meyvn in Uptown at Lake and Bryant is doing wood-fired Montreal-style bagels in flavors including garlic and onion, poppy seed, and brown sugar.

"I'm really happy to report that they're the real deal: they've got a great chew, nice ratio of interior to exterior, and dense enough to stand up to a serious schmear of cream cheese," Norton said. "Five bucks gets you a bagel plus a schmear, which is a lot by New York City street standards but for this quality is actually a great price on a light breakfast or lunch."

Meyvn is a sister restaurant to Saint Dinette in St. Paul, and both are collaborations between restaurateur Tim Niver, general manager Laurel Elm, and chef Adam Eaton.

Find some of Norton's other favorite bagels at:

• Rise Bagels in the North Loop

• St. Paul Bagelry

• Bagels Forever, in Madison, Wis.

To listen to Norton's conversation with MPR News host Tom Crann, click the audio player above.