Saturday, August 7, 2010
A Delicious Spot of Splosh in Big Pond, Cape Breton: Tea with Rita
Heading back to the mainland of Nova Scotia after sojourning on Cape Breton Island for two weeks with my husband's recently widowed mom, Eric and I decided to take the old highway, instead of the new one which is quicker but terribly boring. The biggest delight by far was visiting Rita MacNeil's famed tea room in Big Pond. What a delightful place indeed. We had heard rumours that the prices were high, but dear friends, I do not know the last time I had a large, sumptuous bowl of fragrant seafood chowder, a mile-high cloud-light scone, with homemade strawberry preserves, and a robust and flavourful cup of tea for under $15.00! The service was swift and friendly, and the surroundings were picturesque to say the least, and there was no sense that you were being rushed through your meal to accommodate the incoming crowds. The icing on the cake, ( or perhaps one might say the clotted cream on the scone!) was the presence of the grand dame herself. Yes, indeed Rita McNeil was there in the flesh talking congenially and having her picture taken with all manner of folk, treating everyone like a long-lost friend visiting "from away". I chose not have my picture taken with her. Believe it or not, I am a wee bit on the shy side myself, when it comes to celebrity, and I did not want to impose, but I must say it was ever-so heart-warming to see her and to experience the genuine warmth of her personality as she greeted her tea room patrons. It made me proud to be a Nova Scotian, even though I have been in exile these 14 years on the absolute opposite of the country!
I must say I was suitably impressed by the scones. They were positively massive, at least 5 inches high, and light as light could be! HOWEVER, to be totally honest, they were a wee bit lacking in terms of taste. If I could combine the height of hers with the taste of mine, I would be a rich, rich, woman! That having been said, I have to say that the chowder was absolutely lovely, with five or six HUGE scallops in it, and a clam or two for good measure. The only thing it lacked was lobster.......PRAISES BE!!!! As I am allergic to the little red-shelled devils and would have been heartily disappointed had they ruined my chance to enjoy this steaming dish of delight. So, Rita dear, congratulations on your great success as a singer, entertainer, entrepreneur and tea-room maven. I doubt that anyone deserves or appreciates it more than you do, dear soul.
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Regards, Scone Queen