This week, my Eat of the Week is… a bagel. Yep. Just a regular ol’ bagel with cream cheese, that I ordered and ate at PennyCup Coffee Co. in The River Arts District (RAD). It was frickin’ awesome. No doubt. I loved it, and it made me super happy. It was a real bagel. Like, an actual frickin’ bagel. Not some fake-ass piece of round squish-bread with a hole in the middle, but a true, honest-to-gosh bagel. Yeah, Man. Who made this thing? Surely not the folks at PennyCup. When I inquired as to where this awesome bagel might come from, Bill Tanner (Co-Owner & Master Roaster ) said, simply, “Joey’s.”
Joey’s New York Bagels has two locations, both of which are way the fuck out there in Hendersonville, so even though I had heard from quite a few people that Joey and crew are making the best bagels in WNC, I had yet to try one until that first virgin bite at PennyCup, and… Oh. Hell. Yes. As I have indicated already, THAT’S a fuckin’ bagel.
You may or may not have read, or heard me say on the radio show, that I grew up for part of my life in a predominantly Jewish town called Brookline, Massachusetts, and I loved it! Not only did I learn about Judaism, and get to go to Bar-and-Bat Mitzvahs, but I was introduced to lots of awesome Jewish Deli food, like latkes, knish, Reubens, and of course bagels. Good bagels. Like, really good bagels. Holy fuck. I miss those Brookline bagels.
The bullshit that passes for bagels in the goyem world… especially down here in the Southern states…. sigh… Let’s just say that puffy, fluffy, soft, bready, bunny, dry, squishy, airy, and light are all descriptive words that should never come anywhere near a bagel. Dense, doughy, chewy, heavy, thick, solid, substantial… these are good words for a bagel. These are words I would use to describe an authentic bagel, like the bagel I ate at PennyCup, from Joey’s New York Bagels in Hendersonville.
What makes Joey’s Bagels so authentic? Seems like it’s Joey himself. This is from the web site:
Joe, owner of Joey’s New York Bagels in Hendersonville, NC was born in the Bronx and raised on Long Island NY. He began his career in the bagel industry at the age of 17, when he was hired at the local bagel shop part-time. After six months of mopping floors, and cleaning equipment Joe asked to learn how to make bagels. He soon began working long hours after school, baking bagels for large wholesale routes. Joe, discovering his passion for the bagel business, worked for the next 20 years in the industry learning the traditional arts of hand-rolling bagels, crafting bialys, and other bagel crafting techniques even as new technology mechanized the bagel industry. Joe has used techniques and recipes, learned from some of the best bagel shops in Long Island and Manhattan, to bring an authentic New York Bagel experience to the Western Carolinas since 2011
So there you go! Joey is the man.
I was at PennyCup again a day or two later, when the bagel delivery was made. I didn’t talk to the driver, but I did get to see three HUGE bags of various, super-fresh bagels get dropped off, and I was dying to take a bite of each and every one of them. I took a picture instead…
For realz, Yo. Good bagels are few and far between in this part of the country, and after the much beloved “New York Bagels,” (no relation to Joey’s) on Merrimon Ave closed 9 or 10 years ago, I was sad to say that Bruegger’s of all places had the best bagels in town, Cripes. What a sorry state of affairs. I happen to know that several of the food and coffee establishments here in Asheville had been using Breugger’s right up until recently, when they also discovered Joey’s.
I think Hendo is damn lucky to have Joey’s up there, and I consider myself lucky to live close to one of the many places here in Asheville that Joey is delivering his bagels to! I took a look at Joey’s web site, and daaaang, his whole deli case looks like it’s full of authentic AWESOME. I’m even thinking about a special road trip to Hendersonville to try his egg, pumpernickel, and salt bagels, as well as the other delicious deli items that I saw photos of.
It’s not often that something as simple as a piece of boiled dough could get my ass out of my own neighborhood, but, seriously, not since Brookline have I tasted a bagel so true and real and authentic and awesome, and that is why, this week a simple, humble, basic bagel from Joey’s New York Bagels is my…
Joey’s New York Bagels
“A NY Tradition now in the Mountains. ”
Address: 1500 Haywood Rd, Hendersonville, NC 28792
Phone: (828) 692-1220
Stu Helm is an artist, writer, and podcaster living in Asheville, NC, and a frequent diner at local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and the like. His tastes run from hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese, to haute cuisine, and his opinions are based on a lifetime of eating out. He began writing about food strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook.
ON THE RADIO: wpvmfm.org
Odd’s Cafe has the best bagels in town, dough is flown in from Brooklyn, apparently. And the best non-traditional bagels are at City Bakery.
Are these the same bagels they sell at West End Bakery and West Village Market? Because those ate the best bagels I’ve had outside NYC.
They’re definitely at the downtown Hopey, but it’s worth a trip south (the I-26 exit 44 location’s closest) to pick from the full range and the cream cheese selection. Buy a dozen (get two free) and freeze ’em.