Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lavendar Ridge Farms

Trying to be spontaneous and doing original things, I decided I would take Dianna to a Lavender farm in Gainesville, Texas. So we booted up Patty and made our way north (only after a quick breakfast at the Cracker Barrel in Denton at I-35 and US 380).
Lavender Ridge Farms website
As we all know, Lavender is part of the mint family of herbs. Grown generally in small shrubs, Lavenders flourish best in dry, well-drained, sandy or gravelly soils in full sun. We are used to seeing more black dirt  here in North Texas (official State Soil, can you believe we have a State Soil?) and yet here we were completely surrounded by yellow sandy soil beneath our feet. The gift shop man said it naturally occurred right through the middle of the old homestead property and was a perfect growing medium. Lavender is typically cultivated in long solid and picturesque rows.

Lavender produces a large amount of nectar which makes a particularly high quality honey and oils that are very aromatic (as any woman could tell you) and is used for a variety of soaps, lotions, salves and a whole slew of additives in drinks, food, heck they even make Lavender sugar and a very sweet syrup for your pancakes.

The Egyptians were early adopters when they used it as a perfume and as part of the mummification process. One of the earliest mentions of it in writings were from the Greeks who called the lavender herb nardus, after the Syrian city of Naarda where it was prevalent in the Middle East. The Greeks discovered early on that lavender, if crushed and treated correctly, would release a relaxing fume when burned.

However, the Romans probably gave Lavender its name because it was used extensively as a bath scent additive and a lotion. They referred to it as “lavandārius”, from the Latin (everybody knows this) lavanda (things to be washed), from the verb lavāre (to wash) or livendula--livid or bluish.

Lavender is mentioned often in the Bible, not by the name lavender but rather by the name used at that time spikenard (bad call there, not very romantic sounding) and, folklore has it, either came from the Garden of Eden or it’s unique fragrance may have been bestowed on the plant by baby Jesus when Mary set his clothes down on it to dry. Probably not after a serious diaper change.

Lavender was often used as partial filler in pillows or in bedding. As the body warmed the bed (from whatever activities), the Lavender would produce a gentle fragrance to bring sleep on or some considered it an aphrodisiac for young lovers. A famous nursery rhyme called "Lavender Blue, Dilly Dilly" was written in 1680 and talks of "Whilst you and I, diddle, diddle…keep the bed warm." Those crazy Tudor era entertainers.

To say Lavender has been big with the masses, many have found the oils found in lavender can treat hyperactivity; insomnia; flatulence (that’s important); bacteria, fungus, and microbial activity on gums, airborne molds, and (in mixture with pine, thyme, mint, rosemary, clove, and cinnamon oils) Staphyloccus bacteria. Lavender may even be useful against impotence (Holy Cow!). In a study of men, the scent of pumpkin and lavender rated as the scent they found most arousing. Ok…I’m not going with that observation.

A note about Patty’s performance on the road. Patty is a bit narrow-minded about the path she weaves for us. I knew I had to go north to Gainesville from the Texas mansion but I had timed our sojourn to coincide with breakfast at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant (OK Scott, we’re hooked) just outside Denton, Texas. Patty didn’t get the email that we would have to deviate from due north to get to Denton. This created a certain level of stress in me as I blew through every pre-programmed turn she had laid out in her scheming little computer chip. At each attempt to deviate me from my ever-lengthening westward trek (“Right turn at FM 1385, Right turn at US 377, U-turn at Rockhill Rd you jerk…listen to me!) along US 380, I could sense her getting shorter with me and a rising tone of exasperation in her suggestions as the miles ticked by. Yes, I could have reprogrammed or even turned her off. But she's not my mother and she's not the boss of me!

When I brought this to Dianna’s attention (eyes rolling), she assured me Patty had not changed her inflection or cadence but then women never countenance other women who exhibit traits like their own. As we pulled into the parking lot of the Cracker Barrel, I think I caught a glimpse of Patty’s screen flash a mocking one-finger salute at me as the screen went blank.

Tummy grumbling, I had the Old Fashioned breakfast. Grits (silky), biscuits and gravy, gravy that stood up by itself and only fell at the application of my fork, scrambled eggs and sausage. Dianna had the Granola Pancake breakfast with eggs and bacon. Really good.
Once back on the road, Patty was demonstrably quieter (perhaps pouting or possibly because of the extensive unwavering drive due north on the I-35 toward the Red River) as we made our way to Gainesville. A quick eastern voyage along the US 82 then Patty found her voice again as she “turn-by-turned” us onto the dirt road leading to Lavender Ridge Farms. But, as payback, she ended our journey at a point which was clearly not at the entrance to Lavender Ridge. Along a winding curve in the road she pronounced, “You’ve arrived at your destination”, and with her silence, tauntingly suggesting, “You’re on your own pal.”

We (I) continued our way cautiously down the dirt road, which made up County Road 178. I was about to give up and backtrack feeling we had slipped by a non-descript driveway when the Lavender Ridge Farms sign peaked around the corner and drew us in. I could see the acknowledging ,“You go, girl!” smirk on Dianna’s face as she commented, “Sure glad we didn’t decide to turn around.” I thought she going to high-five the dash.
Lavender Ridge Farms is east of Gainesville among the rolling pastures and horse farms of rural Cooke County. Lavender Ridge Farms has been a family owned farm for about 150 years and the most recent generation decided to convert the strawberry and melon acreage from the 1920s and 30s to two acres of Lavender fields.

It was the middle of April and, apparently, we (I) jumped the gun and learned that the Lavender blooming season doesn’t actually starts until the end of May so there wasn’t much to see. To highlight the season, Lavender Ridge puts on a festival over the Memorial Day weekend so families can come out to pick some Lavender, eat some Lavender products and buy from craft vendors who set up around the open Lavender field. Yes, they really like the color Lavender here.
Lavender Ridge is open from April to November (not a lot growing in the Texas Winter) but they have a small gift shop and a Café with homemade Lavender products and a menu of stuff to eat containing Lavender ingredients.

After Dianna loaded up on Lavender soap, scent and some plants, we made our way down to the barn and Dianna got her fix of pigmy goats, horses and donkeys. On the way, we had to stop and play catch with one of the farm dogs named Purty and a really attentive sheep dog.

On the way back, Patty took us in her direct and shortest route fashion back through an assortment of familiar roads back southeast toward home. On the way we skirted Pilot Point, Texas and came upon an old favorite, the Taco Shack where we stopped long enough to procure 6 pork and 6 beef homemade Tamales for future meals.

It’s a very calming and scenic place and I think we’re going to try to make it back for the Lavender Festival at the end of May. It’s wild flower season in Texas and we’ll need to ply the back roads to find some Bluebonnets. I’m thinking of leaving Patty home next time.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Watauga, Texas

Recently, we had a visit from our close friends Scott and Silvia Brown from San Diego. Close because we met during a Lamaze class when Dianna was pregnant with our daughter Nicole and Silvia was ready to deliver her oldest, Kevin. Perfect strangers up to that point, their due dates were the first week of July and Silvia went in on July 3rd and Dianna delivered on July 4th, 1984. When we first met, Scott was a phone installer for Pacific Bell and Silvia was working at the Von's grocery store in  El Cajon, California. After realizing the benefits of Civil Service, both became San Diego Police officers. When they retired, Scott made it to Sergeant and Silvia was a school resource officer in their DARE program.

Scott and Silvia had left San Diego for the wilds of Mormon Country in Cedar City, Utah but were in a position to buy in a Del Webb retirement community in Georgetown, Texas just north of Austin. They were in town to visit Kevin and his new wife, Norilou, celebrating their first year anniversary, and to cinch the deal down in Georgetown. On their last day, we met at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Grapevine, Texas  for breakfast. It was my first time in a Cracker Barrel Restaurant. Turns out, the restaurants have an extensive menu with some pretty delicious stuff at very reasonable prices. I had the Pecan Pancakes and Dianna had the Hash-brown Casserole. The sweet tea was flowing and we spent almost two hours catching up.

Like us, Scott and Silvia have been traveling the country doing a lot of sight-seeing. Scott likes themes and in one of their recent trips decided to make it their mission to eat at places that Guy Fieri of the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives series on the Food Channel had visited. On this occasion, they told us of their visit to a place called Chef Point Café ( click on the video to watch the episode) in a place called Watauga (Wha-taw-ga), Texas just northeast of Fort Worth.

Watauga itself is a small bedroom community nestled among many bedroom communities with names like Richland Hills, Haltom City and Keller surrounding Fort Worth. Watauga has no significant history to speak of. The first settlers came to the area in 1843 and took its name from the Cherokee word for "village of many springs." The Texas and Pacific Railway came through the area in 1881, which spurred a settlement. Watauga received a railroad station, then and a post office in 1883. The population was 65 in the mid 1930s and 40s, when the railroad station had closed. 
Thanks to Patty, we got there unscathed through the State 121/I-820 maze just west of the DFW airport on a wind swept Sunday for a late lunch. Sure enough, Patty directed us to the parking lot of what looked like a Conoco gas station with the traditional attached mini-mart. This unremarkable building contains one of the best restaurants we’ve been too. The outside belies a gourmet restaurant, tucked away inside, that still holds basic comfort foods like hamburgers and simple traditional Texas favorites like Chicken-fried Steak for the common man (or woman).
The story goes that when the owners, Gourmet Chef Franson and his wife Paula Nwaeze from Nigeria came to Watauga to open a restaurant, they couldn’t get a bank to loan them the money to open it. Although Chef Franson had genuine cooking creds, he didn’t have any prior experience running a restaurant. To accomplish his dream, he did an end-run on the banks and identified a gas station he could buy instead. He didn’t have any experience running a gas station either but I guess you need fewer qualifications to run it than a restaurant, hmmmm. So, with his new found financing, he left the mini-mart in place to abide by the terms of the loan, cleared out the garage bays, built a kitchen and moderately sized seating area to serve class cuisine to feed a hungry nation. The Chef Point Café menu includes such delectable culinary creations as crab cakes topped with roasted bell pepper, lobster bisque, and grilled sea scallops in garlic butter.
The menu is extensive and it was hard to decide what to order but Dianna settled on the Meatloaf and I chose the Hot Brown Sandwich on their Comfort Food menu.  Our server decided we needed an appetizer of Green-fried Tomatoes to help us mull over the menu which were great. Nicely fried (not over fired as we’ve often seen) with a dab of a very creamy Ranch dressing. Another server came by and decided we needed to have a side of their pasta sauce to dip the fried tomatoes in as well. Good call.
Holy Cow! Then giant portions of food arrived at the table. The Meatloaf was extremely tender and tasted like someone had just pulled it out of the oven just for us. A viscous dark gravy lay over the top holding a smattering of cut vegetables in place. She got some mashed potatoes and a couple of pieces of cornbread on the side. My open sandwich came right out of the oven with a layer of melted Asiago cheese drooling over slices of bacon over layers of Turkey slices and more sliced cheese. There was like this Asiago/Alfredo sauce all over everything. It was something to behold and eat. If someone had thrown a couple of pieces of flat pasta over the top, it could have been a turkey and gravy Lasagna. Folks, I could have cut this puppy up into four portions and still had leftovers. We ended up boxing half of it to-go.
Boxing was a wise course of action in that the word was not to leave without trying the Bread Pudding. We called for one and a 4X4 square of bread pudding showed up doused and floating in a pond of the famous cognac sauce. OMG, to die for. Both of us agreed it tasted like a really moist (and thick) slice of French Toast with the best sweet syrup you can find. This bread pudding was voted best among Fort Worth restaurants. I think it might be the best on the planet. It made the whole trip through the freeway maze of east Fort Worth well worth it.

Guy Fieri of the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives series on the Food Channel

Yes, before leaving (to complete the experience) we did stop at the mini-mart and get a ‘T’ shirt and two Lotto tickets to round out the trip. If you need to watch the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives episode, go to the Chef Point website and click on the video. The sign on the delivery van says it all, “Five Star Food in a Gas Station”.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Waco, Texas

Our first real weekend trip of the year and we decided to revisit Waco, Texas. Waco, of course, is the massive home of Baylor University. How about those Baylor Women’s Basketball Players? (Go Bears!) and the Texas Rangers Museum. If you like guns, this is your place. We had been there once before on the way back from our first trip to the State Capitol of Austin, Texas. It was late afternoon and a Sunday, so all we got to do was check out the Dr. Pepper Museum and walk across the Waco Bridge. We knew we were coming back some day.

Prior to the founding of Waco in 1849, a band of the Wichita known as the "Waco"(long ‘A’, Spanish: Hueco or Huaco) lived on the land of present-day downtown Waco. Thats OK, Patty, our Tom Tom GPS device, called out "You've reached your destination, Waaco" (short 'A')", not Waco (long 'A'). It's just a regional thing.

A guy named Neil McLennan settled in an area near the South Bosque (pronounced Boskee...yeah, I know, it’s a Texas thing) River in 1838. A former Texas Ranger (they show up in a lot of these stories) and surveyor named George B. Erath was chosen to survey and lay out the town. Property owners wanted to name the city Lamartine, but Erath convinced them to name the area Waco Village, in honor of the Native Americans who had lived there. Kudos to George for making the right call on that one. Later on, George gets another Texas County (Erath County established 1856) named after him.
Waco was an important transportation stop on the Brazos (pronounced Brasas, yeah, same as earlier) River. A relatively wide river when it’s running high, it could be very hazardous and time consuming to run ferries and flat boats between the banks so the Waco Bridge Company was formed in 1866 and built the first brick and steel single-span suspension bridge with a main span of 475 feet. The biggest and longest at that time. It was designed and built by John A. Roebling who then went on to build the Brooklyn Bridge in New York in 1870. Opened in 1869, it contains nearly 3 million bricks and put Waco on the map bringing increased commerce and especially cattle to the city.

Best part was that the investors created a monopoly by getting the City to sign an exclusive contract eliminating any competing flatboat or any other bridge builder from building until the bridge had been paid off. At 5 cents a head (including cattle), the bridge paid its $141,000 cost off pretty quickly and by 1889 the tolls were removed. It was used as a vehicle/pedestrian bridge until it’s retirement in 1971 when it was designated an historic monument and continues as a pedestrian bridge between two parks on opposite banks.

Some of you may know that in 1885 Dr. Pepper was invented in Waco at W.B “Wade” Morrison's Old Corner Drug Store. Charles Alderton, a young pharmacist working at Morrison's store, is believed to be the inventor of the now famous drink. Alderton spent most of his time mixing up medicine for the people of Waco, but in his spare time he liked to serve carbonated drinks at the soda fountain. Once established, the now famous drink was ordered by asking him to shoot them a "Waco."
Natural springs ran through Waco and Alderton and his new partner, Robert Lazenby, formed the Artesian Mfg. & Bottling Company, which later became Dr Pepper Company. The original factory in Waco is now a  museum and you can see the brick lined well in the floor of the factory floor where they got the water from. Lazenby and his son-in-law J.B. O’Hara then moved the business to Dallas. It’s headquarters is now in Plano, Texas and resides in the same business park where Dianna works at Bank of America’s mortgage center.

The mystery over the name has many variations. The most romantics believe the drink was named after a real Dr. Pepper. One candidate is Dr. Charles T. Pepper of Rural Retreat, Virginia, who might have been honored either in order for Morrison to obtain permission to marry the doctor's daughter, or in gratitude to Pepper for giving Morrison his first job. That’s been pretty much debunked but another possibility is a Dr. Pepper of Christiansburg, Virginia. U.S. Census records show a young Morrison working as a pharmacy clerk in Christiansburg. This Dr. Pepper also had a daughter who would have been his age at the time.

The more practical theories about the origins of the soft drinks name is that the "pep" refers to pepsin, which was an effervescent treatment for stomach problems, back then. One recipe in a book of recipes is titled "D Peppers Pepsin Bitters", a medicinal recipe for a digestive aid. Like many early sodas, the drink was marketed as a brain tonic and energizing pick-me-up (sound familiar?), so another theory holds that it was named for the pep it supposedly gave to users.

Dianna and I decided to make a weekend of it and stayed in a great bed and breakfast just north of the city in a place called Bed and Breakfast on White Rock Creek  in the Savannah Room. Dana and Retha Strickland run the place and have a great facility. It originated as a religious retreat for a Christian Fellowship group. Over the years, the group moved on but many of the flock stayed behind, subdivided the land and built homes on the property. The Strickland’s have approximately 4 acres consisting of three two story buildings Dana built with his own hands. The guys pretty handy and should do this for a living. His other job is as a massage therapist, go figure. We had our room with our own patio/veranda, private walkway and entrance.
Being sociable types, we especially enjoy joining the other guests and our hosts for breakfast, which Retha cooked fresh for us each morning. We met some interesting folks and were able to swap travel tales and suggestions on places to see while we were there. This is the rear porch of the main house overlooking the back yard.
One suggestion was the Waco Mammoth Site only 5 miles from the Bed and Breakfast. The original landowners donated the property as a gift to the City of Waco who runs the museum and maintains the park. When we got there, we decided to go with a guided tour (no extra cost) and had a great guide named John Butcher. As is often the case, John’s passion is not prehistoric animals but he knew his subject and gave us a very good tour. John is an Art major and really wants to be a teacher. John has an artist wife and three kids and the job is tiding him over until his next big break.

John explained that the Mammoth Site is the largest concentration of Columbian Mammoths and Ice Age period paleontological site in the world. Yeah, not you’re big Woolly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius). They were up in the tundra, which extended down to about Kansas. Columbian Mammoths had shorter hair and smaller ears. Very much like their Indian Elephant relatives. Here in Texas apparently, we experienced a more milder Ice Age with temps only slightly cooler than they are today, maybe 7-10 degrees cooler which still gave us Texas style summers in the 90s. The area where the Mammoths were found had been an ancient riverbed, which periodically flooded and may have caught these mammals by surprise drowning the herd as it passed through drinking or foraging for food.

The story goes that in 1978 a couple of good-old-boy treasure hunters ( the pre-tour video)were walking the area in search of arrowheads and other Native American relics when they caught a glimpse of a really big bone sticking out of the ground. Paul Barron and Eddie Bufkin knew this wasn’t a cow or cattle bone and reported it to the nearby Baylor University Museum staff. Baylor staff came out and were stunned by the extent of the find.

By 1990, fifteen mammoths had been identified, their remains preserved and removed. During the clean up of the dig site, another bone was found which has led to the discovery of ten additional mammoths, a camel, and a young saber-toothed cat's tooth. Yes, Saber-Toothed CAT, not Tiger. The Saber Tooth Cat just happens to be the official California State  “Fossil” and has been found in the La Brea tar pits. That's the tooth on the left.

And yes, I said Camel. John informed us there was some pretty reliable evidence that many warm climate mammals like camels, bears and predecessors of the Elephant (Mammoths) had either originated or passed through Texas on their way to the more familiar places we see them today like Africa and the Middle East. It was all ice and land bridges across the continents that made it all possible.

As I said, the Columbian Mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) is an extinct species of elephant that appeared in North America (in the present United States and to as far south as Nicaragua and Honduras) during the late Pleistocene era from 2,588,000 to 12,000 years BP (Before Present) Because the "present" time changes, standard practice is to use 1950 as the origin of the age scale, reflecting the fact that radiocarbon dating ( no...not the kind you do at the club) became practicable in the 1950s. To account for the concern that the year 1950 has by now moved away from the present significantly, the abbreviation BP has also been re-interpreted to mean "Before Physics". Come on.
The Mammoth’s a big dude, 16 foot long tusks, stood about 16 feet tall at the shoulder and weighed about 8-10 tons. A herbivore, these males ate about 700 pounds of plants a day, that’s a lot of salad. You can imagine that a herd could pretty much clear cut a prehistoric forest pretty quick. Thus the need for the herd to keep moving to forage. That’s probably why they moved around the world so much. When you need Asian…you’ve just got to go. That’s Dianna standing at the lamp post (with her trusty iPhone around her neck not to miss a game, email or Facebook update) which has a bow tied at the approximate height of the Mammoth.

The City and Baylor’s Mayborn Museum partnered to build a state-of-the-art temperature and humidity controlled enclosure to protect the dig and provide a very unique experience for the visitors. They provided a series of elevated walkways so you can walk over the entire dig site and have a birds-eye view of the dig and location of Mammoth carcasses partially uncovered and still in the ground.

A little chill ran down my back when John reminded us that as we looked down, in the deeper trenches, we were looking at substrate that was laid down about 68,000 years BP to the higher level of the dig (where the camel and the cat were) which only go back to 16-18,000 years BP. It gives one pause to think you’re standing where mammoths, ancient camels and saber-toothed cats once roamed. They have recovered so many bones; Baylor had to stop digging because they ran out of warehouse space to hold them all. The problem is they are not fossilized and once unearthed almost immediately begin to break down and need to be encased in plaster for future study. Pretty cool place.

All this pre-historic stuff made us (well, me) hungry. I had been given several restaurants to try in downtown Waco and we decided to try Ninfa’s Mexican Restaurant. I had the Ranchera Chicken Taco Salad which was very tasty and Dianna had the “El Jackie” chicken fajita plate which was waaaay too much food and came with a stack of their freshly made tortillas. The front entry is deceivingly small but opens up into a cavernous high ceiling room with lots of bright colors and accent lighting.

As we ate, we caught a glimpse of some very brightly attired women seated in a group and enjoying lunch together. It was the Ladies of the Purple Passion, one of two women’s service groups in Waco. Debbie, I had to snap a shot of them and their hats. The lady in the center with the “frilly” red hat was the “Queen” leader of the group. Debbie’d fit right in.

We then cruised through old Waco and stopped by the McLennan County Courthouse. Waco is the County seat and this is its fourth Courthouse built during the peak of central Texas’ cotton wealth. The renaissance revival design by J.Riely Gordon of Dallas uses steel, limestone, concrete, and marble, with Texas red granite in the “rusticated” base (I love that word “rusticated”). It is currently undergoing a major renovation.

After roaming around town, we always try to find a winery to visit. Our hosts recommended a friend’s winery, the Tehuacana Creek Vineyards (TCV) along State Highway 6 just east of town. I loved the website’s directions,” From I-35, head east on Highway 6 toward Houston. Once you pass over the Tehuacana Creek look for two tall radio towers. Find the second mailbox and turn into the driveway.” Problem was the winery’s mailbox (the second) was off the main road well onto the property, not easily visible from the road at 60 mph. Luckily, my eagle eyes caught sight of the Winery’s sign before we passed it (OK, it’s a pretty big sign).

The owners are from Sweden and Ulf and Inga-Lill (you can’t make this stuff up) Westblom were our hosts. I was a little caught off guard when Ulf told us he is a doctor who specialized in Infectious Diseases. Thus his interest in the chemical make-up of his wines. He had been making wine since his college days in Sweden and because of that, he claimed he was a very big man on campus (BMOC), if you know what I mean. He still has the first bottle of wine he ever made on display. He named it on the label as “KRÖ KAR VIN” which, loosely translated means, “Wine to get drunk on”.

Ulf’s wines were OK but not something to write home about. I found them unremarkable and somewhat cloudy to look at. You can always get a pretty good sense of a wine by its clarity. Now Ulf did say he’s a stainless steel barrel guy not a Limousin, Alliere, Vosges, Nevers or American oak vintner. That might explain some of it. But I think Ulf is a frustrated chemist who threw together some odd combinations of flavors with his whites and reds. I had visions of a mad scientist (in black and white, of course) stooped over his boiling beakers mixing his concoctions on his Bunsen burner. Some of it was passable and we brought home one of his “Heart of Texas Cherry” and a “Harrison Plantation Port”.
Having spent the day wandering the back roads of Waco, we (well, I) was hungry again and we decided on a steak for dinner. I had heard good things about the Heitmiller Steakhouse at the I-35 and Loop 340. Dianna had a fine steak and I had the mushroom smothered Jack Chicken breast with a monster baked potato. Oh yeah, don’t forget the chocolate fudge brownie with vanilla ice-cream for dessert.

After another restful night, we made it to our last breakfast at the Inn and regaled our fellow travelers with tales of our visit to Waco. Once packed, we made our way north back toward Frisco after one stop at West, Texas (no, not the region of west Texas, that’s pretty big). The City of West is a small town with a long Czech heritage. When Texas was in its infancy, many European immigrants made their way here to own land, farm and ranch. Many Czech families got into the cotton industry, which flourished in the mid to late 1800’s and early 1900’s. West originally was a farming community centered around a fresh water spring and the area was originally known as Bold Springs.

A man named Thomas West settled in Bold Springs in 1859 and the railroad came through in 1881. Mr. West became a principal land owner, which led the town’s people to incorporate in 1891, and they renamed it West after Thomas. Descendants of the original Czech immigrant families still live and work in West today.

What is really significant is that when you think of the Czech people and traditions, you get...Czech bakeries. The Texas Legislature even signed a proclamation stating West was the “Kolache Capital of Texas”. West has about four real old European/Czech bakeries and restaurants in its old downtown. Unfortunately, it was Sunday and only two were open, neither was the recommended bakery but, hey, how bad can a Czech pastry be? We made it into the Little Czech Bakery just off the I-35 service road. It was about 11 a.m. and they were almost sold out but we were able to get some strawberry pastry rolls and some HUGE cinnamon rolls. Luckily there was a SONIC next door so we could get our RT 44 Strawberry and Cranberry Limeades to wash them down with.

Thus we returned home to Frisco rested and ready for the coming week. It’s clear we didn’t get to all the goings on in Waco and will have to make the return trip soon.