Recently I mentioned a new teacup I had purchased which originally came from the famous Wanamaker's department store. That set me to thinking about the most famous department store in my own state, the late great Rich's. Years ago I found this vintage knife from Rich's on one of my junkin' expeditions and knew I wanted to save it as a memento of that dear, departed store.
I thought I had eaten at Rich's famous tea room, The Magnolia Room, as a little girl, but my mom said no, she doesn't think so, when I asked her about that recently, and I trust her memory over mine! One thing I know for sure, however, is that my family was a frequent customer of the Rich's Bake Shop, and a recipe that both they and the Rich's tea room were known for is their legendary Rich's Coconut Cake.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had printed what was supposedly "the" recipe years ago, and I dutifully tried making it but it was a dud. It called for fresh coconut and had a gazillion steps, and it just tasted like a dried-out coconut cake. Soooo not worth the effort!
Recently, I saw the AJC had on its website an updated recipe for Rich's Coconut Cake, one developed with the assistance of a gentleman who had actually worked in the Rich's Bake Shop. I made one for Daddy, whose birthday was yesterday. The review? It was fairly tasty and definitely moister than the previous version but merely OK in my book. My dad — who is an expert cake baker himself and makes THE best coconut cake since Rich's — said convincingly that he thought it was "gooood." But I know better. I'm his daughter and he would have said that no matter what! So, my quest for the "real" Rich's Coconut Cake continues. Meanwhile, I've come across another department store tea room recipe for a dish I learned about from Phyllis in Michigan, the famous Maurice Salad once served at J.L. Hudson's Department Store in Detroit. I'll let you know how it turns out!