Dear Mr. Gold:
My favorite bialy place, Back East Bialy, finally closed after years of strange hours and mysteriously empty shelves. Now I find I’m depressed beyond all reason. Any suggestions?
—Joel, Los Angeles
You miss Back East now? You should have seen it back in the day — magnificent burnished garlic bialys, onion bialys, plain bialys, what have you, made by a cranky, elderly, Yiddish-speaking couple who measured their lives out in flour and minced garlic right on the corner of Pico and Robertson and were just as happy to throw you out of the store as they were to sell you a dozen. After an earthquake damaged the building, and they either moved a few blocks east or sold it to the family that ran it for years, the bialys, grown mysteriously soft and puffy, were never quite the same. I could tell you to try the bialys at Beverlywood Bakery — the unorthodox model with cheese and onion is very tasty — or the crisp, very decent bialys at Brooklyn Bagel on Beverly near Alvarado, but they aren’t the same, even when you toast them, and I don’t want to bum you out. Have you tried ordering from the venerable Kossar’s Bialys on New York’s Lower East Side (www.kossarsbialys.com)? Postage is expensive, but they bake what are by a pretty long shot the best bialys (and probably bagels) in America.