Friday, December 18, 2015
SEARCHING FOR CINNAMON ROLLS – PART V
Impressions of Central Texas – part 2
The search for the perfect cinnamon roll has been arduous and pains taking. Up until recently, the quest had been shelved; perhaps the opportunity had passed by, perhaps I was getting too old to appreciate a major league sugar high. Who knows? As I recall, the last, best may have been found in Fort Jones, a remote town at the foot of California's Trinity Alps. It’s been five or six years. Somehow, new quests have replaced this old one.
However, in mid-December 2015, my wife and I found ourselves in downtown Austin, Texas. Walking historic 6th Street district, we wandered into the grand and historic Driskill Hotel, dating back to 1886. Passing through a massive (we’re in Texas, after all) and elegant lobby, we found the hotel’s bakery and café. It was lunch time, and we settled into a table at the cafe next to a younger man who we came to find out was a Brit, and his far-too-good-looking companion: dark complected, smoldering eyes, finely turned... Well, never mind, this is supposed to be about a pastry.
And, indeed, it would be. For although it was lunchtime, the cinnamon roll was listed near the bottom of the menu distracted my wandering eye. That and coffee sounded sufficient to hold me until dinner.
I chatted with my wife until her cheese soup and salad arrived. Seconds later, the waiter brought forth a rectangular delight, a good three inches thick, crowned with a delicate mantle of creamy frosting, eliciting this from the Brit's companion: "Oh, my! What is that?"
"A cinnamon roll," I replied. The thing was huge. "For four bucks you can have half of it."
With the butter knife and fork, I pared off two pieces, slipping one in my mouth. Immediately, it melted, as did I. Not too heavily frosted, not too sweet, light and slightly airy with generous applications of cinnamon inside each slightly dough coil. The Fort Jones example from five years ago edged into my mental file labeled forgotten.
The young woman eyed the pastry and my reaction. "Good?"
"Oh, man." Noticing her salad fork, I pointed to the second bite. "You should have a bite. Really."
"I can't." Some sixty-plus year-old stranger offering her a piece of his cake may have taken her aback. Especially with her tablemate sitting right there – and mine with me.
"Seriously," I said, "You probably don't have anything I wouldn't want to get."
Think about that for a second. I hadn't. Apparently, neither did she. She gingerly reached across the void and gently speared the morsel. Her reaction was as mine. "Oh, my!"
We laughed: strangers no longer. The gentleman talked about racing KTM motorbikes as a youth and giving it up to protect his hands from injury, he said, as he turned serious about his chosen profession: movie makeup artist. A shoot was going on in town. He pulled out his smart phone offering us glimpses of his trade: horrendously made up ghouls and zombies and victims of on-screen mayhem. "I do the blood," he explained. "She does the beauty."
Miraculously, I did not choke on the bite that was then in my mouth.
Thus engaged in conversation, a delightful lunch was consumed in mid-December Austin. As the couple rose to leave, I had to offer: "Thanks for helping me out, miss. If I'd have had to eat the whole thing, I'm sure I'd felt like a glutton."
Chuckles again, this time – and perhaps I only imagined this – accompanied by one of those Hollywood winks.
Notes: Information of the elegant Driskill Hotel: http://www.driskillhotel.com/
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