Saturday, July 12, 2008

Will run for kolackies

After some awful heat and humidity on Friday (94 degree, dew points in the low 70's, heat index over 100...yikes!), along with some wild storms in the evening, today I woke up to a gorgeous summer day. Morning temps in the low 60's with very low dew points. It felt almost cool.

I ran 15 miles today and felt quite good the whole time. There were a number of branches down from last night's storm, so I stopped a couple of times to remove some of the bigger ones so some unsuspecting cyclist didn't plow through them.

I noticed several signs along the route warning of a race that would be taking place around my lake between 8:00 and 10:00, as well as some markings on the trails. But I would be done before I would encounter any traffic.

However, as I rounded the south end of the lake, I was thinking the racers were going to have a tough time negotiating the two large trees that had fallen across the trails. Nothing I could do to move these! I had to crawl around one and duck under the other, and I am sure they would not have had those cleared by the start of the race. Like I said, wild storms last night.

All of my usual suspect birds were there; catbirds, kingbirds, cardinals, great blue herons, mallards, and the young eagles. No red-winged blackbird attacks today, so perhaps they are done defending their nests? Whatever the case, my Saturday morning run was most enjoyable.

Following my run, I cleaned myself up and went off to do a little exploring. Being such a nice day, I took a drive not terribly far out of the cities. I found myself southwest of the metro area, driving through the historic river town of Carver, the city of Jordan, and ended up in New Prague.

The striking St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in downtown New Prague

New Prague is a community with strong Czechoslovakian roots. So why not stop for breakfast at a restaurant that celebrates this? I ate at the Praha Haus Family Restaurant.

The Praha Haus was a nice little restaurant bustling with hungry locals. The servers seemed to know everyone but me. For breakfast I had grilled ham, eggs, and hash browns; your standard breakfast fare. However, there was one Czech-inspired side item; a kolacky.

When I was ordering my breakfast, the server asked me if I wanted pancakes, toast, or a kolacky (she pronounced it "co-lawtch-key"). Figuring this was some sort of Eastern European delicacy, but not having any Eastern European blood in me, I asked:

"What is a kolacky?"

She kindly explained to me that a kolacky is a small Czech pastry with a filling inside. They served an assortment of kolackies with sweet fillings such as apricot and raspberry (there were several others, but I forgot the rest!). She pointed to some rolls on the neighboring table where a couple of younger guys were enjoying their breakfasts.

"See those? These gentlemen are having kolackies."

One of the guys at the table replied, "Oh yeah...they are good!"

What can I say, I am easy. "One raspberry kolacky, please!"

Breakfast was excellent. Fantastic ham, nicely cooked scrambled eggs, hash browns with a good crust; but oh, the kolacky! Mmmmm, this was a perfect breakfast item. It was like a slightly sweet, fluffy roll that was oozing with raspberry preserves. Just a delightful pastry.

So, today I learned what a kolacky is. Now I need to learn how to make these things. I did, however, drop the ball in that no photos were taken of the breakfast to document the wonder that is the kolacky. Next time, I promise.

Until then, please enjoy a picture of the bacon, basil, and tomato sandwich that I had for dinner tonight, along with a cob of sweet corn.

My favorite summer meal!

Yours in Czech pastries,

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