Sometimes a girl just needs a bialy. Especially me, bringing back delicious memories of Sunday brunch with my grandparents. Sure, there was a table laden with bagels, but it was that crispy, crunchy bialy that I looked forward to. A lighter, oniony version of a bagel (think Jewish English muffin), not as leaden and absolutely perfect toasted with a shmear of cream cheese and the slimmest slices of salty lox. The other day, I couldn’t help myself and stopped into Howard’s Bakery in Essex for a hot one. Howard (may he rest in peace), and I argued over his bialys for a long time. He never gave me credit where credit was due, but years ago I asked him if, as a retired Jewish investment banker and French baker, if he could make a decent bialy (back then, an impossibility to find on the Shoreline). He was up to the challenge, and his creation took off. So much so, I had to meet him secretly to get my fix of a half dozen! He never gave me credit, but you heard it here, it was my idea. These days, you can get them at all Howard’s outposts: Fromage, Centerbrook Cheese, Madison Cheese, Atlantic Seafood, and Lyme and Chester Farmers’ Markets. But do yourself a favor. Head over to the cafe in Essex and have a cup of “secret” strong coffee and a freshly toasted one, slathered with salty butter (and of course, you can pick up all manner of sandwiches and authentic baguettes, fougasse, rye raisin walnut, date nut and more). Heaven. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 7:30am – 2pm. Find Howard’s on Facebook, here. Spencer’s Corner, Essex, in the back.