June 9, 2006
Blue-Ribbon Contender

I was 20 minutes early for an appointment in Winters, the old but no longer sleepy farm town on the western edge of Yolo County. I must have pressed the accelerator a little harder than usual on the drive over when I remembered that Winters is home to Putah Creek Cafe & Bakery, which I hadn't visited in years. The existence of the cafe also might have explained why so many cyclists were pedalling furiously in the same direction.

I'd already had breakfast, so I only needed a light mid-morning snack, though I'm not sure anything is really light at Putah Creek Cafe. As I looked over the menu my heart began to race when I saw "Hangtown scrambles" among the egg dishes. "Hangtown" on a breakfast menu suggests to me the "Hangtown Fry," the classic scramble of eggs, bacon and oysters that originated during the Gold Rush in Placerville, then known as Hangtown. Alas, there's no Hangtown Fry at Putah Creek Cafe. They seem to have appropriated the name to distinguish their scrambles from their omelets.

While there may be no Hangtown Fry, there's no lack of other options at the cafe. The menu is extensive and varied, with the breakfast choices alone including chicken fried steak, biscuits and gravy, griddle cakes, French toast, waffles, oatmeal, steak and a whole bunch of baked goods, from cinnamon rolls to scones. You can see why it's a popular refueling stop for cyclists.

I settled on a blueberry muffin, and have to say it's the best I've had since the last time my wife prepared a batch of her blueberry muffins, which once upon a time won a blue ribbon at the Amador County Fair. The Putah Creek's version is big, warm, blue, dappled with all kinds of berries and crowned with a sweet and toasty streusel topping ($1.95). I was savoring it so much I ended up five minutes late for my appointment.

The place is at 1 Main St. in downtown Winters, and opens at 6 a.m. daily.

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