We took a little field trip this week and ended up in a mini time machine. We'd heard there were still small meat markets nearby, in Wilber, Nebraska. Wilber is a charming little town that happily proclaims itself to be the Czech capital of the U.S.A. They host an annual festival that clogs the highways and swells the population of the area by thousands. Every one leaves with full tummies and lighter hearts full of music and ancestral pride.
Off "season" it's a modest little town with pretty facades and the most fabulously smoke scented air imaginable. Why? Well, Frank's Smokehouse is one reason. Close your eyes and imagine the best ever combination of wood smoke, cooking meat and spices and there you are. My apologies to vegetarians, this is carnivore country!
Although it's all about the meat here, there are some very cool pieces of kitchen equipment and that didn't come from some faux vintage kitchen kitch shop either. Check out that vintage coke machine. I'm guessing it's been in the shop for about 4o years. The old display cases remind me of the tiny general store in my grandma's little town when I was a kid. There's sausages of every description here, jerky, hocks... anything smoked you can imagine, I'll bet you'd find it.
We didn't get jerky this time, but we'll be back... this doesn't look anything like what's hanging near the check-out stand in WalMart. I don't think you'd see these guys in WalMart or Kroger either.
They also had some really good looking homemade bread and kolache. The smell of fresh bread and smoke in the air is almost criminal. I was wishing I hadn't just had breakfast when I spotted the kolaches. Kolaches? You never heard of kolaches? Fresh and still steaming up their bags. Almost made me wish I had a couple of kids at home to help eat up all the baked goods I wanted to buy. Not really, but almost! We did buy some smoked hocks (the Viking thinks it's time for some potato klub. We'll talk about that one later), some polish sausage, breakfast sausage, burgers and some Czech style potato dumpling that looks like a sausage thing to try. The butcher was cutting for fresh, gorgeous rib eye steaks for another customer, and we'll be back for some of those too!
One last thing that makes Frank's a totally unique little meat shop, is this little stash of hardware behind the register. At Franks, not only can you get meat and major sensory overload, you can also restock your ammo and buy a last minute anniversary gift for your man.