Pies provoke palate pleasure
The sweet aroma of cinnamon-dusted apples and buttery crusts filled Paulette’s Country Kitchen on a recent morning.
Owner, line cook, pastry chef, hostess, server, busser, janitor and business woman, Paulette Rickard had been busy baking her signature pies since 6:30 a.m.
The popular Glenbrook Basin restaurant is a favorite destination for Friday fries and Sunday lunches, bacon-and-egg breakfasts, low-fat choices and good home cooking. But what it’s really famous for, what people love it for, is Paulette’s pies.
Rickard invents sumptuous new pies daily, but her best sellers still are old-fashioned apple and rhubarb. The restaurant’s employees say their favorite is French silk pecan.
“It’s got a cream cheese layer on the bottom,” Rickard said, describing her creation. “The top is covered in a layer of caramel and pecans with whipped cream on top. I make just about any pie you can imagine. The average day, I make from six to seven pies, unless it’s a holiday.
“At Thanksgiving, I bake about 130 pies,” she said, pinching the edges of a freshly made crust.
Old church cookbooks
Rickard started her restaurant career as a waitress at age 16 in Bakersfield, where she grew up. At 27, the Massachusetts native moved to Nevada County and began cooking at the Sugar Loaf restaurant in Lake Wildwood ” now the Wildwood Grill.
She later became the manager and polished her home-grown baking skills there
while she was pregnant.
“I grew up really poor,” Rickard, now 51, said as she placed a pie in the hot oven. “I learned how to make something from nothing. I learned a lot from my mom and grandmother.”
Using treasured family and church cookbook recipes over the past 18 years, Rickard’s restaurant has developed a reputation for outstanding pies and for home-style specials like meat-loaf and tamale pie.
Rickard’s personal favorite? “Chicken-fried steak and eggs,” she replied.
“I have the favorites that people really like,” Rickard said. “I keep those in rotation.”
Perhaps Rickard’s biggest fans are her family.
“There’s not a job in here that she doesn’t know how to do,” Rickard’s husband, John Rickard, said. “It’s pretty rare in a restaurant to find an owner who does as much as she does.”
Every Sunday night is family night at the Rickard household, where the veteran cook keeps family tradition going by cooking a large dinner and one of her infamous desserts for her three sons, their significant others and her grandchildren.
“My three grandchildren constantly say they ‘would just die’ if this (restaurant) wasn’t here,” Rickard said, laughing.
Her fan base extends to devoted locals.
“I have several regulars who come in twice a day,” Rickard said. “Usually, they’ll come in for breakfast and lunch.”
Knowing many customers by name, Rickard also makes a point of knowing their tastes.
“I have people who come in, and I say ‘Oh, I have cherry pie today’ because I know that’s what they like, and we don’t make it every day,” she said.
Though she has put her last son through college, Rickard said she has no intention of retiring anytime soon.
“The couple times I thought about selling my restaurant, I’d have customers say, ‘I don’t know what we’d do without Paulette’s. We’d just starve,”‘ Rickard said. “When people come in and thank you for being in business, it’s a good feeling.”
Paulette’s Country Kitchen is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
To contact Staff Writer Lindsey Croft, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4247.
Paulette’s Country Kitchen
11875 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, at the corner of Brunswick Road, 273-4008
Open 6 a.m.- 3 p.m. Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Years in business: 18
Best bets: Apple, rhubarb or French silk pecan pie; meat loaf, tamale pie, chicken-fried steak and eggs; oh heck, it’s all good.
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