By STEFAN MODRICH
While your annual office Christmas party or family gatherings may be much more limited this year, that’s no reason not to indulge in the tradition of baking cookies to celebrate the holiday season.
Or better yet, you could save yourself the time and the hassle of cluttering up your kitchen and support your local bakery instead.
I decided to do a practice run ahead of Christmas at Rustika Cafe and Bakery in Sugar Land. The folks there have dedicated themselves to quality, and while you’ll pay a premium for it, it’s definitely worth splurging for whatever special occasion you find yourself wanting to celebrate.
Rustika is a treasure trove of sweets and savory goods alike, with European, Latin American and Jewish influences that reflect the heritage of the founder, Francis Reznik. Among its many holiday cookie boxes was a set of chocolate-covered gingerbread men, a festively decorated house and a Christmas tree. I decided to throw in a pair of Alfajores Divorciados ($3.45 each), most famous in Argentina for their Dulce de Leche, or caramel filling, but popular all over South America and parts of Spain and France as well. “Divorciados” is Spanish for divorced, symbolized by the separation of the white and brown frosting at the top of the cookies.
I also had the good fortune of trying a breakfast burrito ($9), which comes with scrambled eggs wrapped in a flour tortilla and offers a choice of a variety of add-on ingredients. My selections were chorizo and queso fresco, a Houstonian staple that I’ve become quite familiar with, having purchased the iconic La Vaquita brand in grocery stores across Fort Bend County and in Houston.
The Rustika kitchen must be an exceptionally busy place. In addition to churning out custom cakes, cookies and other pastries, it has an extensive breakfast and lunch menu, including homemade empanadas, sandwiches, salads and soups.
The owners seem to have a dark sense of humor, and though I usually don’t myself, I noticed something on the menu that struck a chord with me as a bit of a throwback to the simpler times that preceded the ongoing global pandemic.
A section of the breakfast menu is labeled “Disaster Specials” ranging from familiar Houstonian problems such as the Oil Spill Omelette ($14) with Spanish-style scrambled eggs, shredded potatoes, black beans and honey wheat toast topped with homemade mole sauce. There’s also a Recession Omelette ($1), which is a single scrambled egg. (Spoiler alert: There’s an unflattering and not-so-subtle reference to Houston’s NFL team in this part of the menu as well, but in the Christmas spirit, I’ll spare you from having to read it here.)
Rustika’s original Houston location opened in 1994 and there are also locations in Friendswood and League City. At the Sugar Land location, free delivery is available and the dining room is open at 50 percent capacity.
Rustika Cafe Bakery
Address: 3227 Highway 6, Sugar Land
Dining Options: Dine-in, takeout, free delivery
Hours: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. daily
Entrée prices: $9 – $14
Senior discount: No
Healthy options: Summer Salad ($10)
Star of the show: Christmas Cookies