It occurred to me that in order to discover great bagels in Philadelphia and/or produce a great bagel. As with any experiment, I must first define what in-fact makes a bagel great. Believing that there is an art to baking, I found this article from the Artisan Bakers website that defines what the difference is between hand-made and a true artisan bread. According to this source the fermentation is really important in determining the taste of the end product.
Here are the basic qualities to look for:
1- Love at first sight- A true NY style bagel will have a rich, medium-brown glow. A nice sheen or shiny crust, not a pale dull surface.
2- Tough-skinned- The crust should always be firm and crunchy. Of course, the best way to get this is when they are fresh out of the oven.
3- What's on the inside is what really matters- Look for a chewy center, not too dry and not too doughy. When you bite into a bagel the inside should be a dense crumb. And you should taste a hint of salt, not sugar.
I will be testing the bagels I find throughout the city, as well as, near-by areas to see how close they meet the above criteria.
Check back often to hear about what I find.