In case it wasn’t evident in my last post, I’m on vacation. Said week-long constitutional has been in the blissfully backward, urbanely anonymous region of Cody, Wyoming. In a peculiar sort of way, I dig the hell out of this high-plain nowheresville. Granted, it’s an historic town. But let’s be honest, it’s historic in the way that no one quite recalls where it is exactly. As a result, it – and the surrounding areas – is beautiful and unfettered. Bighorn Basin beautiful, I’d call it.
What would justify me posting a mere day after my last entry – while on vacation, no less?
Answer: I found tea here. Good tea, even! And in places that no one would find it unless they were actively looking for it.
The entire break from the stresses of my Portlandian life was all thanks (in complete part) to my mother. She downright insisted I visit her and my step-dad, since I hadn’t been back to Cody in two years. There were two places in particular she had to take me. It just so happens, they were well-tea’d, which surprised me in a serendipitous sort of way.
First was a place called Heritage Bakery. My mother was the veritable “Norm Peterson” of the place. They knew her by name. I know what that is like. What I hadn’t expected – beyond the delicious sammiches and cinnamon rolls – was that they rolled out some decent tea as well. My dear Mum went for some White Peony, courtesy of Two Leaves Tea, whereas I went for something a little more lowbrow.
They had sweet tea on the menu and touted that it was done Tennessee-style – water, sugar and Lipton. I’m not normally a Lipton proponent, but it does have its place – iced to submission and laden with sugar. And you know what? I inhaled it with sweet, syrupy glee. The cinnamon roll that accompanied it was equally ‘gasmic, but that’s a subject for a foodie to cover.
In short, I can see why this was her haunt away from home. It would be mine, too. Oh, who am I kidding? I’d be an instant squatter.
The following day, dear Mum made reservations at a teashop she discovered a couple of years ago by accident. It was called the Willow Fence, and when she tried to describe it to me, I was instantly perplexed. She made it sound like a barn brandished with princess tea parlor décor. A year or so later, my sister and I had a chance to visit it…and – I’ll be damned – it was exactly as my mother had elaborated.
I can’t even find the right words to fully do it justice. It was like a set piece straight out of a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I’m convinced faery folk designed the interior. The colors were all earth tones, tree branches separated tables, and mannequins and tapestries lined the walls. There was no tearoom quite like it.
On our present visit, Mum and I were finally taking advantage of their lunch menu. Tea-wise, she started with a peach rooibos while I settled on a single estate Assam I’d never heard of. Doomur Dullong – even the name sounds like a Klingon phallic rite of passage. The taste was sufficiently malty and manly. There was even an aftertaste of bitter rawhide for good measure. I downed at least two steeps-worth – by the pot!
The Willow Fence lunches and scones were also worthy of mention. I left amiably rollie-pollie, filled to the tummy brim with green bisque soup, grilled cheese sammich, and cranberry scone. Thankfully, I left a smidge of room in one of my love handles for one more cup of Assam before I undulated for the door.
Both Heritage and Willow Fence haven’t been around for very long – less than ten years each. Neither place even has a website, yet. (Heritage has a Facebook page, but with only about fifty-some-odd “Likes”.) If this entry serves any useful purpose, it’s to shine a light on these two off-the-beaten-path tea havens. Should you – fair reader – ever find yourself passing through Cody, Wyoming, and you have a penchant for good tea and good service, give these places a looksy. You’ll be glad ya did. Darn-tootin’, yee-haw…etcetera.
(PS ~ Mum, I love you. This has been a wonderful vacation.)
UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention that The Willow Fence does have a website. You can find it HERE.