Thursday, February 16, 2012

Guest Blog Post by Caledonia Dawson

The Crazy Cross-Dressing Ibarra Chocolate Coffee Drink

I'm normally wary of foods that have the term 'loco' in the title. Loco is a fun word, with its bouncy little internal rhyme and near-universal recognition among even the least linguistically sophisticated of us in los Estados Unidos. But, really, who would willingly want to consume something labeled as 'crazy'? There seems to be a Taco Loco in every city, for example, but the idea of a Crazy Taco only conjures images of Mad Cow disease to me. No thank you.

All of this goes through my head as I scan the Los Bagels menu above my head, looking for something hot and sweet, and my eye catches on the Loco Mocha. Made with genuine Mexican Ibarra chocolate, this drink is like Univision's Sabado Gigante: pure frothy delight.

But even as the Loco Mocha satiates my taste buds, its enigmatic name prompts my mind to quibble. Why loco? Mocha is a feminine word, surely it should be modified by the feminine version of the adjective. Loca Mocha would seem more grammatically correct. Hm. But maybe it's one of those crazy cross-dressing Spanish nouns like manos, or hands, which should be masculine but is in fact las manos, feminine. Or el vestido, meaning "dress," which you would think, as men don't wear dresses, should certainly be a feminine noun but is masculine.

I am suddenly reminded of crossing the border at Nuevo Laredo after a long and sweaty trip on a Greyhound back from Jalisco and having a sudden moment of panic because I couldn't remember the difference between zapatos and Zapatas. Which wouldn't be a big deal, except that I was bringing a pair of shoes that my friend had had me pick up at a shoe store in Guadalajara back to Texas with me and I didn't really speak Spanish and it suddenly occured to me that I didn't really know this guy that well and I hadn't checked the shoes to make sure they didn't contain...umm...stuff that the border patrol would surely be interested in. And if the German Shepherds weren't suspicious, Customs surely would be when I told them I had Zapatas in my bag. Imagine their surprise when they opened my duffel and found contraband instead of a Mexican revolutionary!

Okay, deep breath. I love how Los Bagels always manages to bring me back to memories of Mexico (which I did successfully return from, my friend's zapatos in hand). I've decided that the Loco Mocha can be whatever it wants to be--who am I to say whether it should call itself a boy or a girl? As long as it keeps being delicious.

Caledonia Dawson

Thanks Caledonia for your "Guest Blog Post."  To read more of her work, check out her two blogs...they are very well written and capture the essence of life in Humboldt... and the Humboldt Bachelorette will have you laughing out loud. &

Friday, February 3, 2012

Salmon Runs

We talk about salmon quite a bit at Los Bagels.  Usually it concerns smoked salmon, lox or salmon spread.  Not today!  As the rains finally came to Humboldt County we were recently treated to some great salmon runs. Freshwater Creek, Prairie Creek and the Mad River showed some impressive numbers of fish heading upstream to spawn.
Photo by Thomas B. Dunklin,
 A salmon's journey never ceases to amaze.  Born in a tiny creek, miles ands miles from the ocean, heading down stream to the vast ocean.  Living in the ocean for 5-6 years then heading back to the same tiny creek to spawn.  It sounds simple, but it is truly one of nature's greatest triumphs.

Photo by Thomas B. Dunklin,
Locally, a gentleman named Doug Kelly has been working tirelessly to improve salmon habitat.  His work with the Humboldt Fish Action Council is a force in our community doing the down and dirty work of restoration.  Using a volunteer squad of community members and HSU students, he is able to create more habit for salmon.  Los Bagels has sponsored Doug's efforts with bagels and pastries for years.  Many other businesses such as Humboldt Grassfed Beef, Santa Cruz Coffee and Odwalla, support Doug's volunteers with the nutrition they need to clear out invasive weeds, clear debris and actually re-create spawning beds where sediment has made it impossible for the salmon eggs to hatch. 

They also have an "Adopt-a-Fish" program for that salmon lover in your life.

We would like to give a special thank you to Thomas B. Dunklin, the North Coast's premier salmon photographer for the above photos,  and if you want to see something totally awesome, watch his video "GET UP"a Tribute to Fish Passage Success Stories.

Cheers to the salmon, long may you run!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Refresh, Renew & Lime Walnut Bread Too!

Happy New Year, here we go for another trip around the sun.  2011 was a good year here in Bagel-land, but personally I am ready for 2012.  Something about the new year, resolutions, fresh starts all makes me very hopeful.

An ongoing tradition at Los Bagels is that we close from December 24th through January 2nd, this gives everyone a nice break and time to actually enjoy the Holidays with family and friends.  It also gives us a chance to do major upgrades to the shops and some serious deep cleaning.  The truly great part of this break is that everyone comes back refreshed, and in good spirits.  We employ about 45 people, most doing customer service and production work, our staff is a tight knit group.  However, by December 23rd even the most diehard Bagelero is pretty well "over it", tempers flair, limits are pushed and friendships are tested.  Keeping the shops running smoothly can be a little touch and go right up until the closed sign gets flipped at 5 p.m. 

Coming back to work after New Year's is really a treat. Everyone is talking about their adventures while we were on vacation.  Who headed south to LA? Who saw a great New Years Eve concert in San Francisco? Who stayed up here and got Redwood National Park to themselves?

All of us in the Los Bagels family are lucky to have this break to recharge, refresh and renew.  It is only unfortunate for Humboldt natives who live out of the area and return for the Holidays, only to find their favorite bagel shop in the world closed.  We hope you understand and it's a good excuse to visit at another time of year.

This year our most popular Holiday Bread was our outrageously good "Lime Walnut Bread"  to start the year out on a generous note, here is the recipe.  Feel free to share this with your friends and family to keep them warm and toasty through the coming months.  This recipe and all your other fav's are in Los Bagels Recipes & Lore, 3rd edition. Feliz Año Nuevo!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Become "One" with the Huckleberry

Los Bagel's Huckleberry Loaves are coming out of the oven as we speak, the smell wafting down "I" Street in Arcata has people wandering into the shop...they don't even know why.  Their eyes are glazed over, their lips are trembling and their eyes are searching for the source of the outrageously good smell.

Fresh baked Huckleberry loaves just don't happen.  All summer and fall our friends Peter and Tsering, way out in Petrolia on the Lost Coast, are hand picking these sensational berries.  Hucks are a small juicy berry with an unparallelled flavor, way better than a blackberry, more delicate than the raspberry, and don't even get me going about blueberries. 

If you've ever done any berry picking, you know that it is hard work and takes an enormous amount of patience, diligence and self control.  Tsering annually picks about 200 lbs of hucks for us!

These berries truly shine in our Holiday Dessert Loaf.  Grab one at the shop, or order one online to treat your friends and loved ones. Feeling adventurous? Grab a copy of our Cookbook and make the bread yourself, the recipe is in there...along with all your other favorites!

Among the really hard core berry pickers, secret picking spots are protected and shared only with trusted family members.  After some serious picking we've seen people with red stained arms all the way to their elbows.  ...No, this business is not for the light of heart or the weak of spirit, you must be "one" with the berry.

Tom Kent at is totally at "one" with the berry.  Check it out his description of the mighty Huckleberry.
This image of ripe Huckleberries in the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge is taken by Gordon Leppig and Andrea J. Pickart. Click on the berries to check out the great chart they built detailing the flora about 15 miles south of Los Bagels. 

Here's Wishing You a Berriliscous Holiday Season!
Los Bagels

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos at Los Bagels!

El Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, November 1 and 2, is a national holiday in Mexico.  It's origins are found in ancient ceremonies of indigenous Mexicans.

Death has a unique persona in Mexico which is not found anywhere else in the world.  In the pre-Hispanic cultures death was just a further step in life itself, a step which offered a security and serenity markedly contrasting with the suffering and worries which afflicted mankind in this world of hardships.  Life and death compliment each other.  The ancient Mexicans believed that life issued from death just as death issued from life.

With the introduction of Catholicism, attention was no longer focused on Death itself, but rather on the dead and on the spirits.  And so the Mexican people celebrate every November 2 on the return of their dear departed who, as ethereal souls, come back for one day to their burial place and the home where they lived.

In many homes a ritual altar is prepared to honor the returning souls.  The altars are often adorned with Zempasuchitl, a kind of marigold which is the traditional flower of the dead.  There is incense (copal) and a candle to light the way for each returning soul.  Food is prepared, always the dish of which the dead is fondest in life.  A glass of water is set out and the personal mementos and an image of the person.

For children, delightful toys, usually skeletons made of paper mache and wire are created for the Day of the Dead.  These calaveras or skulls, and dancing skeletons are wonderfully amusing.  All walks of life and occupations are depicted.  there are even toy cardboard coffins from which a skeleton can be made to jump by pulling a string.

Today in Mexico, Day of the Dead is a tradition that is rapidly changing.  Although celebrated traditionally in rural Mexico, in the urban centers the Halloween influence of the United States is evident.  It is important to remember that Dia de los Muertos is not Halloween for its' origin and traditions are different.  It is from the ancient indigenous traditions and beliefs which held that Death defines life and that our deaths illuminate our lives.

We make pan dulce (Mexican sweet bread) everyday, but we produce a special type for Day of the Dead.  It comes in three shapes, (two human forms) men, women and round with crossed bones on top.  They are made from a bread dough which is flavored with cinnamon and sugar and decorated with colored sugars, and are great with Mexican hot chocolate.  They are a symbol of the departed family and friends and are also an offering on the ofrenda.  The bread is baked for both the living and the dead- since antiquity bread has symbolized the mainstay of human life.

Look for Pan de Muerto and ofrendas at all three Los Bagels locations during the Dia da los Muertos celebration, or order it online and have it shipped in for Wednesday November 2nd.

The altar (ofrenda) is central to observing the Day of the Dead and is maintained to ensure good relations between the family on earth and family in the after world.
Whatever the deceased enjoyed in life is remembered in preparing the alter.  Photographs occupy the center, and names are spelled out with cloves on fruits and with pen on nuts. Religious images are placed on the alter, in the hope that the saints thus venerated will intercede for the protection of the soul on its' journey back to the after world.  Decorations may also include a Tree of Death, tombstones, lyres, flowers, skulls and skeletons of all sizes and materials, copal and delicately formed hearts.

Altars can be an eight-course, multi-level feat with enough "soul foods" set out to provide the sustenance required for the visiting soul.  These include dishes traditionally prepared for the Day of the Dead, such as chicken in red or black mole sprinkled with sesame seeds; fruit., beans, tortillas, and tamales made from fresh hand-ground corn; soft drinks; and as always, a glass of water to refresh the travel-wearied souls.  Altars honoring children include a small bowl of milk, special cakes called mamones, copal, pieces of chocolate, little apples, miniature candlesticks and a profusion of toys and sweetmeats. Los Bagels will be offering mole on a bagel, starting October 29th.

Once the honored guest has extracted the essence of the refreshments, they are shared with family and friends, who have often traveled long distances to take part in the family's annual reunion.

Hasta la proxima vida.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lime Corn or Corn Lime

Los Bagels Lime Corn cookies are one of the freakishly good items that you can only get at Los Bagels.  The recipe was developed years ago by our long time baker Jodie Harriel and to date, this is our best selling sweet treat. This cookie is the epitome of a multicultural experience...are there any other cookies on earth that get referred to as "zesty"  ...we think not.   

The magic taste of this cookie has traveled outside Humboldt County.  Tierra Vegetables in Windsor California is a fan,  we hear someone is working on a Gluten Free version  and now you can purchase them straight from the source and we will ship them right to your door.

If you are ready to get in the kitchen and make them yourself (they are incredible right out of the oven!)  here is the recipe.  This is taken from Los Bagels Recipes and Lore.
Whether you call them "Lime Corn Cookies" or "Corn Lime Cookies"  we don't mind, just remember the first place you tried the original zesty cookie.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Getting Toasted, and the Fountain of Youth

Our New T-shirt.

"Would you like that toasted?"  Believe it or not these words never echoed through Los Bagels until the late 1990's when Dennis, Peter and John finally broke down and bought a toaster.  As any purist will tell you, a bagel should not be toasted, it should be eaten fresh out of the oven in all its' chewy glory. 

Luckily, heaps of people like their bagels toasted.  It does have some benefits, such as, crispy edges, melted cream cheese, and the seeds which adorn the exterior of the bagel, reaching their flavor peak.  I count myself among the toasted bagel population and I am not ashamed of this fact, even at the expense of a wee bit of my "bagel street cred"...which is extensive.

This week, Los Bagels did it again, bringing in toasters to the Humboldt State Depot where no toaster has gone before.  HSU Students can now share in the magical phrase, "Would you like that toasted?"

Speaking of students, life here at Los Bagels and I'm sure many other college towns, revolves around the yearly influx and inevitable retreat of college students.  Spending time on campus indoctrinating the newbies into the ways of our multicultural cafe gave me great joy this year.  Seeing the 18 years olds, fresh from Southern California, staring at the redwood trees and trying to look "cool." Their proud parents sharing stories, and wondering why it is so cold here in August.   I enjoyed the energy of transformation as "move in day" got rolling in the early dawn hours.  Talking to the students and parents, giving unsolicited advice on where you have the best chance to see Bigfoot. Mud splattered cars packed to the gills with all the stuff a college freshman needs, kids on skateboards blowing through stop signs without an apparent care in the world. 

I took a moment to realize that in fact these students and their parents embody the cycle of life.  We are so blessed to share in this cycle, I may never be 18 again, but in about 17 years, I will hopefully be at some college sharing in my sons' dreams of the future.  My grandfather said that existence was about "life everlasting"...and I'm starting to understand what he meant.