I’ve never had a knack for history. It was one of the most boring subjects in school ever. Total snoozefest. Or maybe I just was not blessed with that teacher, the kind that would hook you to a subject.
I’ve only picked up the interest in history when I found myself abroad, trying to make sense of why people – from different parts of the world – are the way they are, why food stuffs are such and because The Husband is a history nut. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?
So I don’t know anything about the history of Texas, except the story of “The Alamo” from the movie (which I vaguely remember) and the story of this little kolache bakery along the Interstate-35 if you are travelling from Dallas moving south towards Austin, San Antonio or Houston.
The Czech Stop, as the name suggests is a Czech bakery, which sits in the town of West, Texas (no, not West of Texas, but the town’s name is really “West”) in which “75% of its residents claim to have Czech ancestry“. The Tex-Czech ancestors apparently escaped the Austro-Hungarian empire rule in the late 19th century to retain their freedom, not wanting to deviate from their ways and be forced to speak German.
And as with any kind of immigration, these Tex-Czechs brought their food. The most famous of which, perhaps in Texas, is the kolach (Apparently, kolache is the plural form as the singular manousheh is to the plural manakeesh. I digress.) It is a pillow-like, soft as feathers, buttery bun (For Filipinos, the taste of the kolach’s bread reminds me of the bread of the pan de coco, sweet, chewy and soft, best fresh out of the oven from your neighborhood bakery. This is the closest I can get to that taste being thousands of miles away.) topped with fruits, cheese or a combination of both.
And boy, do I thank God that they did. Because the Czech Stop does make a lot of heavenly kolache.
This small gas station stop actually made some waves recently, recognized by BuzzFeed as one of the must try-bakeries in the world before you die. And this little bakeshop is up there with artisan, hoity toity, bakeries in the Big Apple, Europe and Tokyo. WOW!
As they are pretty popular, do expect the lines to snake along the aisles filled with the usual gas station goodies along with a lot of Texas souvenirs like post cards, keychains, cookbooks and the lot. And this happens even late at night! But the line does move pretty fast.
With the seemingly endless choices you are presented in the fluourescent lighted display shelves, I am always tempted to order everything. However, I then end up regretting not ordering more of my favorite flavor – the cream cheese – because this place is simply to far to visit every time I run out of kolaches to devour. 75 miles (120KM) is far, right?
Oh, they don’t only have sweet goodies to swoon about. They also have savory baked goods like the klobasnek, a pandesal like sweet roll filled with cheese, sausages, chili peppers and other savory things.
Don’t forget to order a “Chubby”, which I think is a klobasnek, except that they put the entire sausage instead of just a half. You need to open your mouth to a full on “O” to get a full bite of a “chubby”
They also have an assortment of cheeses, sausages and cold cuts, which we’ve never gotten to try just yet. I am waiting for good feedback before spending some hard earned dollars on those. Got any?
I think it is great that it is far away because absence does make my heart grow fonder for this little bakery. And it is always a good excuse for a stopover in future trips down south of Texas.
And, of course, a little history lesson about the roots of some immigrants in Texas. History isn’t a snoozefest; it can be mighty tasty too, eh?
The Czech Stop
Exit 353 along the I-35
P.S. Apologies as there were no close-up shots of the kolache. I ate them all before I remembered I needed to take some photos.