July 23, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Noshtalgia: Hunting the Elusive Kolache

Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call
For those who migrate to the D.C. area and long for a taste of the Tex-Czech treat, Kolache Kreations is one place offering the grab-and-go snack, with varieties such as blueberry, country ham and cheese, and mushroom, egg and cheese.

She and her husband opened their kolache-centric shop in October 2010 but were unable to crank out the promised goodies until a kitchen build-out was completed. But just knowing they were in the works was good enough for some people.

“We had customers coming in and pre- ordering them,” she said.

Although she’d never worked in the hospitality industry before, Fernandez was confident that the area, with its inherently transient population, would provide an adequate customer base. “It’s kind of neat that the locals have adopted us  . . .  and have made it their breakfast food,” she said.

Fernandez said she produces around 75 kolaches — based on a family recipe she cribbed from a Czech in-law — each morning, Monday through Thursday. The baking escalates to 125 every Friday and rockets to 150 to 300 each Saturday and Sunday. She offers at least 16 different flavors per day, a roster that ranges from toothsome kielbasa- and cheddar-filled numbers to apricot- and prune-based treats.

When the mood strikes, she typically reaches for a cream cheese (she makes her own) pastry, or sausage, egg and cheddar bolstered by pickled jalapeno slices. She noted that customers tend to gravitate toward her strawberry-cream cheese creation as well as a breakfast sausage, egg and cheddar offering. Fernandez is still experimenting with seasonal varieties (she rolled out pumpkin-cream cheese kolache this past Thanksgiving) and affirmed that her boudin-packed pastries — forged from a liver-pork sausage imported directly from Louisiana — remain special-order-only.

Taste Test

We are pleased to report that Fernandez’s cream cheese version (Teehan’s self-described all-time favorite) is delightful. The ethereal dairy, sprinkled with cinnamon and smeared atop the semi-sweet roll, trumps your average Danish every day of the week.

A blueberry offering was even more enticing. The wide band of syrupy jelly bisects the thick but moderately fluffy roll, which also sports a thin sugar glaze.

Our sweet tooth sated, we moved into savory territory.

We devoured a breakfast banquet weaving together tender egg, slightly crispy bacon and bubbling cheddar cheese (Fernandez’s default cheese; mushrooms, however, are partnered with melted Swiss) within a dulcet, cushiony roll. A kielbasa-filled offering delivered plenty of wood-smoked sausage, but we much preferred the spiciness of the jalapeno-sausage combo.

Our least favorite: the ho-hum mushroom and cheese. The roasted garlic sprinkled onto the bun was actually the best part. Adding egg into the mix, though, proved much more palatable.

Reality Czech

As the business has blossomed, Fernandez has met a whole new universe of kolache lovers — including South Dakotans, Chicagoans and Pennsylvanians — all eager to reminisce about their first time. Some of those encounters have bordered on confrontational, given that some folks have very distinct ideas about what constitutes authentic kolache.

Count Barbara Karpetova, cultural consular at the Embassy of the Czech Republic, among the strict constructionists.

“Did you say meat? Absolutely not. Kolache is a sweet thing,” she declared of her native ceske kolace.

She listed the base ingredients as flour, sugar, butter, eggs and yeast, while traditional fillings include: cottage cheese with raisins, almonds and poppy paste, and plum marmalade.

“Kolache in the Czech tradition is a sweet pastry,” she asserted. “There is never, ever any meat or vegetables in it.”

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