Perfect rolls, topped off with some traffic jam

July 13, 2002
 By Barry Lewis
 Times Herald-Record
All this traffic for challah and onion rolls.
What's going to happen when we serve up slots?
At not one, but possibly three casinos.
And the gamblers return to Monticello Raceway to play the video lottery terminals and find out they still have harness racing at the track.
And as track announcer Howard Oil announces, "It's now post time!" the New York Philharmonic starts tuning up down the road at the Performing Arts Center in Bethel.
Maybe by then we'll have a Home Depot. And an Applebee's.
And who knows what else will spring up when the casino dream becomes reality, turning this once promised land of bagels and borscht into a haven for blackjack and baccarat.
But that's all down the road. Not that you'll be moving very quickly down that road. Or any road around Monticello this summer.
So, Barry, you ask:
If there's no casino, an empty field in Bethel, a closed Ames and a poorly staffed Wal-Mart, why is there such traffic on the road?
I can't speak for every bumper-to-bumper jam in Sullivan County, but - taking a page from those old Watergate journalists - just follow the money.
Or in this case, the scent of rugelach, challah and onion rolls.
Especially the onion rolls.
You'll end up at Oneg Bakery, at the old Fialkoff Bungalow Colony on lower Broadway.
It's where, for the past 10 years, David and Henny Walter have pampered our pallets with Danish delicacies. But in the process their tasty treats have created a logjam of muttering motorists in need of a fix.
The only thing missing at the bakery are scalpers, folks ready to sell you a sweet roll on the side.
Find a legal parking spot - I dare you - and squeeze your way into the corner bakery that surrounds the hungry masses with shelves of enough fresh baked goods to feed a small nation.
Or summer guests in Sullivan.
Like an ocean current that pulls you deeper to sea, I found myself surging forward, unsure of what to order, but clear-headed enough know I wouldn't leave without some warm dough.
Small women with great resolve attempted to make their way out of the kitchen, juggling six kinds of rugelach, the small pastry. Each trying to break through the crowd.
One gave it the Heisman pose to clear a path. Another pulled a Franco Harris, an immaculate rugelach reception, when a chocolate one dangled in the air.
For a second I thought I heard cries for help. Was someone being trampled?
Turns out to be a woman yelling "hurry" to her husband. They were bringing out fresh challah, the tasty egg bread. She wanted to get his attention.
She got everyone's attention.
There was a mad rush to kitchen. Challah was being snatched up seconds from the oven.
One ... two ... three ... four ...
Men, women and children were filling their brown paper bags with the warm soft loafs that would grace their dinner tables.
I was moving closer to the front, but not by my own power. The press came from the dozens behind me.
How many did I want?
No one waits on line for Springsteen tickets and buys only one. I'll get two loafs. Maybe three. I'll buy three and get a fourth to sell. Will three be enough?

 I only needed one ... but who buys one?

I could now smell the challah.

A man brought out a tray full. I was within arm's reach.

I couldn't get my brown paper bag open. Concentrate Lewis. Don't pull a Buckner.

I reached for a challah.

Wow, was that hot.

I closed my bag and tried to cool off my fingers with saliva. I had my challah.

I turned to inch my way out when I caught sight of onion rolls on the top shelf.

Challah and onion rolls. All I needed was some rugelach and I had the trifecta.

Moments later I was outside, watching as one of Monticello's finest tried to keep traffic moving.

He looked like the guy at Woodstock asking for tickets.


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