This Christmas Day we had what is becoming a Colorado tradition, bagels and lox shipped in from NYC. Bagels and smoked salmon are a Sunday morning tradition where I come from. Aunt Marie would pick up the fixings on her way home from church on Sunday morning and the rest of us would get everything ready. There would be sliced tomatoes and onions, regular cream cheese, scallion cream cheese and occasionally vegetable cream cheese from the deli. If there were extra guests at the table, and sometimes even when there weren’t, we added golden chubs, white fish salad, tuna salad, baked salmon or herring but the highlight was always thinly sliced smoked salmon and fresh assorted bagels and bialys. There would be juices and fresh coffee and we would linger over breakfast, talking and eating and enjoying each other’s company. After the meal we would share the New York Times, dissecting the classifieds and the articles, with a fire in the fireplace and a football game playing in the background.
Alex’s Christmas Day tradition was eggs benedict with his family. He and his sister Meredith grew up with celebrating holidays with “Meltaways”, a special coffee cake from a bakery in Westchester. Whenever he reminisces about holiday (Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving) breakfasts with his family these light buttery cakes with a streusel topping are at the forefront of his stories. Growing up, on Christmas morning he would wake up at home in Bronxville with his family. They would open presents and have breakfast together before driving up to Longmeadow, MA to meet the rest of the clan for Christmas Dinner. Christmas Eve was always spent with family friends so this early morning breakfast was a special moment for the four of them to celebrate together. Breakfast was a communal affair, everyone had their tasks from setting the table to broiling the tomatoes, and then they all sat down to warm coffee cake and eggs benedict.
Here in Colorado we are developing our own traditions. Frankly, bennie seemed like too much work for just the two of us. Although we enjoy the indulgence, the amount of dishes it created was daunting. Last year Aunt Marie sent us bagels, lox and cream cheese from New York City and a tradition was born. This year we got the fixings from Russ and Daughters, assorted bagels, Scottish smoked salmon, gravlox, and pastrami cured salmon accompanied by fresh cream cheese and capers. It was fabulous, chewy, flavorful bagels and some of the best smoked salmon we’ve had in a long time. The fish was lightly smoked, perfectly seasoned and silky smooth. Next time though, we won’t muck around with the combo pack, we’ll just get lots of plain smoked salmon. Fish this good doesn’t need the extra seasonings. A well toasted bagel with a schmear, sliced onion, tomato, a few scattered capers and as much salmon as you like (Alex likes a lot), is a little bit of heaven on Christmas morning. The company at the table increases the pleasure exponentially and if you shop generously there will be enough to do it all again the next day. Sorry there are no pictures, we were too busy eating and talking to reach for the camera, maybe next year. Cheers!