On an early summer morning, the smell of sweet zucchini, cinnamon and hearty goodness comes wafting off of a plate placed in front of me.
The Zucchini Bread and a slice of Cinnamon Raisin Bread, two of Rosie’s Café’s housemade specialties, are sold by the slice and by the loaf. The staff bakes up to 16 loaves of it per day, depending on the time of year and sells out of them regularly.
“Everyone’s always yelling at me, ‘Stop selling that stuff; we can’t make it fast enough,’ ” says owner Karl Motsenbocker.
While the origins of Rosie’s bread recipes aren’t entirely clear, the Zucchini Bread tastes of decades-old love, originality and history. It’s quite possible that it originated from Sue Dunsford, who everyone knew as “Rosie.” Dunsford bought the place in 1980 and changed the name of the café to Rosie’s in 1981. She brought with her more than 100 original recipes and chefs who’ve worked there over time have also added to the mix.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Rosie’s has a rotating menu with more than 50 items on it.
As the demand for fresh, housemade dishes becomes more popular, Tahoe restaurants have to find ways to differentiate themselves, but Rosie’s has always been making things from scratch. A photo of “Grandma Rosie’s Secret Recipe Strawberry Shortcake” takes up half the back page of the menu. The server confirmed that part of the secret is the shortcake that’s made in the building along with the sandwich breads.
“We have items that people can’t get anywhere else,” Motsenbocker says, consistently referring back to his favorite item, the Swedish Oatmeal Pancakes that he says rival any other pancake house. “This is a little niche that we have kept going.”
However, the Zucchini Bread and Cinnamon Bread are so popular that they keep people coming back for more. Rosie’s Café has been around for a long time. It started out as Sam’s Market in 1932 and transformed into The Hearthstone in 1975. Yet, it has kept a loyal following. Many times a group will come in for breakfast and end up buying a loaf of Zucchini Bread to share. Regulars will often come in to grab two to three loaves at a time to take along on their travels.
Sitting under an elk antler chandelier that’s been in the café since it was known as The Hearthstone, I take a bite into perfectly buoyant Zucchini Bread. A heavenly relaxation washes over me; the bread seems to have something decadent in it that I can’t quite put my finger on. It takes about 45 minutes to bake the bread and is served with a dollop of fluffy cream cheese.
The Cinnamon Raisin Bread is equally popular, but is a bit more difficult to make since it has to be proofed. The yeast requires more time to rise. Savoring every morsel of both of the breads, I make a mental note to come back and pick up some loaves to give as Christmas presents for friends and family. | rosiescafe.com