A taste of Montreal in Scotland: Expat opens bagel shop inspired by St-Viateur

Larah Bross couldn't find a good Montreal-style bagel shop in Edinburgh, so she decided to open one.

Larah Bross couldn't find a good Montreal-style bagel shop in Edinburgh, so she decided to open one

Larah Bross, originally from Montreal, has opened her own bagel shop in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Marc Millar)

Larah Bross grew up loving Montreal-style bagels, so putting an ocean between her and St-Viateur Bagel when she moved to Scotland 12 years ago made for a tough transition.

"I couldn't find a bagel anywhere," she told CBC's Homerun.

When she told her husband, a Scottish food photographer, that she wanted to turn her passion for the classic Montreal dish into a business — he got on board.

That's how Bross Bagels was born.

"I'm the first traditional bagel shop to open in Edinburgh," said Bross.

Larah Bross styled her bagels after the classic Montreal offering. (Marc Millar)

Her love affair with bagels began early; as a child at sleep-away camp, she found she missed the taste of the classic boiled bread most of all.

"I used to have them smuggled in," she recalled. "We used to hide behind the bunks and eat our bagels."

When she first moved overseas, Bross would sustain herself by getting friends and relatives to cram bagels into their luggage. But rationing them out only got her so far.

Bross isn't a baker herself, so when she decided to open up a shop of her own, she approached a local organic bakery as a partner.

"I tried to explain to them what the bagels taste like, my memories," she said. "It's so hard to describe. You need to be there. You need to taste it."

Larah Bross is very proud of her finished product. (Marc Millar)

Scotland isn't know for its bustling bagel culture, so Bross found herself at a bit of a crossroads.

"It came down to — I either fly these bakers out to Montreal or I get my mum to ship me a couple of bagels from St-Viateur," she said. 

She did the latter. 

A FedEx box arrived from Montreal with bagels for the bakers to sample.

It did the trick and now her shop, which opened Aug.1, is churning out traditional Montreal-style bagels daily.

Larah Bross says the Scotish customers are slowly coming around to the idea of eating a bagel in the morning rather than a typical roll. (Marc Millar)

She said Scottish customers were a bit wary at first, but that they are coming around.

"Slowly, I'm transforming them and they are all becoming bagel-lovers," said Bross.

Most importantly, she's proud of her product.

"We definitely have the best bagels in the UK."

With files from CBC Homerun