Long before I stepped foot on Fort Davis soil, I was introduced to the Hotel Limpia by way of a recipe from a cookbook.
I worked for many years at a church in Boerne, and was part of the Cookbook Team that assembled the church’s second cookbook in 125 years. We asked parishioners for their favorite recipes so that we could include them in the massive publication.
One submission was for Hotel Limpia Buttermilk and Honey Biscuits, from a faraway place I’d never even heard of at the time (“Fort Davis? Where is that?”), and was assured they were the best biscuits ever created and the only recipe for biscuits that anyone would ever need. And so, we included it.
Flash forward a bunch of years, and my husband and I live in Fort Davis, own commercial property across the street from the Hotel Limpia complex in Fort Davis, are friends and neighbors with the previous owners of the place (the Duncans), and I’m holding a copy of the Hotel Limpia Cookbook in my lap, written several decades ago by Lanna Duncan and her staff.
The Hotel Limpia in Fort Davis is a landmark, sitting on nearly three acres in the heart of downtown, with its lush patio and sturdy two-story stone building.
Built in 1912 by the Union Trading Company (owned by local stockholders and early settlers J.W. Espy, J.P. Weatherby, and Nick Mersfelder), the hotel was promoted as a “summer retreat” for wealthy cattlemen but it actually served as retreat for ranchers, travelers, and locals… cattle owners or not.
Shortly after it was built, the Hotel Limpia became the Fort Davis’ social center and even included a drugstore and a doctor’s office. In the late 1970s, it housed Sutler’s Club, a private club which served as the only bar in Jeff Davis County for many years. The cookbook shares everything from Thanksgiving Feasts to recipes for signature cocktails from Sutler’s Club.
Now called the Blue Mountain Bar and Grill, the hotel’s restaurant, still has the only bar in Fort Davis, although it’s no longer Sutler’s Club or members-only. Most of us here still call it The Bistro.
A few clicks on the computer later, and I’ve got my own copy of the Hotel Limpia Cookbook. Why didn’t I get it sooner? Chock-full of Fort Davis history, each recipe comes with anecdotes and “Lanna’s Notes” that are almost like having her in the kitchen with you, giving helpful tips and advice.
I haven’t made the biscuits yet, but I’ve made Lanna’s mother’s Popovers a number of times, and they are terrific.
The cookbook was written in the seven years following the Duncans’ purchasing of the hotel and restaurant, printed in 1998. A lot has changed since they were in charge of the hotel and restaurant, and I’m grateful to have my very own copy of the cookbook that documents a wonderful piece of Fort Davis history.
(Makes 6 to 8 – and I use this as a starting point for adding different fillings)
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons salad oil (I used almond oil)
Beat together egg, milk, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Beat for 2 minutes. Add salad oil and beat for an additional 30 seconds. Pour into 6 or 8 well-greased muffin cups, filling ½ full. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes or until puffed and golden.
Hotel Limpia Buttermilk and Honey Biscuits
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup shortening
2 tablespoons honey
¾ cup buttermilk
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Cut in the shortening with a fork. Add honey. Add the buttermilk to form a soft ball that will roll easily. Turn out onto a floured board and roll to about 1 inch thick. Cut with biscuit cutter and place on a greased baking pan. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.
Printed with the permission of The Alpine Avalanche