To follow up from my post earlier about my Christmas eve morning in Czech Village, my experience at Sykora was delightful but I didn’t sample enough of their menu to even know if their food was good. Was my heart immediately warmed by the smell of fresh pastries and memories of grandparents? Yes, instantly. Was I greeted with great service, polite conversation throughout my visit and left with a smile on my face because of my interaction with the staff? Definitely. I even received a “Hopefully we’ll see you again soon!” Will I go back? As soon as I can.
I spent twice as much as expected as I started to pile on extra goodies, like a new Czech cookbook. I discovered that those in-the-know drop off their Christmas ham to have professionally wrapped in rye and picked up for their Christmas feast. And as I stood in line placing my order for too many kolaches, I glanced over to see the cinnamon and frosted breakfast cake that my Grandma Dorothy used to get us every year for Christmas. In an instant, the traditions of both sides of my family collided, Czech and Irish, Cedar Rapids and Walford. As tears filled my eyes, I walked over to pick up the last houska: memories washed over me of Danish Made Bakery, International House of Pastries, my great-grandma Alma baking kolaches, and my childhood. (Those aren’t Czech bakeries but pieces of CR history that smelled of freshly-baking pastries where I tasted treated as a little girl.) I think I held my new discovery a little too close to my chest, squeezing it possibly a little too hard trying to savor every sentiment this treat had and was creating. And while I sat at home enjoying the delicious, sweet and soft houska that I purchased, I looked through my new collection of recipes and realized- I have a lot to learn about my ancestry. And I’m going to start at Sykora.