One of my only regrets about our 2011 trip to the UK was my inability to enjoy afternoon tea in the countryside. The signage, the sweets, the beverages at the tea rooms — oh, how they taunted me. Because we were with a tour (and on a schedule), I couldn’t pause to sip Earl Grey or nibble a scone. No how, no way.
The most painful place I had to leave — under complete duress — was in Kilkenny, Ireland, where they were serving a fantastic-looking spread at 4 p.m. I remember watching the minutes tick down as we drove away on our big bus, knowing I’d never be there again.
I’m a wee bit dramatic, I know. But there’s plenty of truth there.
The Jane Austen lover in me is just so enamored with the idea of high tea — and knowing how much I love beverages (and, you know, eating), I recently jumped at the chance to join my mother-in-law for the experience at the lovely Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. The Victorian Drawing Room proved the perfect spot for our lunch and pinkies-out sipping.
The days I have something decidedly fancy to do are, of course, when my hair simply will not cooperate . . . and my tender strands? Not a fan of Niagara water, friends. Not at all. I tried to gussy myself up for our reservation and act like the sophisticated traveler I desperately longed to be, but the reality is . . . well, I’m just a photo-snapping, frizzy-haired American tourist who likes sweets.
Lots of sweets.
The spread did not disappoint: sandwiches with cucumber, salmon, turkey and cranberry; savory scones studded with fruit; individual lemon meringue pies; tiny cupcakes; raspberry bars; shortbread so tender it actually melted in our mouths. We both went light at breakfast knowing this 12 p.m. date awaited us, and I was still stuffed — like really, really full — for the rest of the day.
We wound up requesting a box to take at least half of these treasures back to our hotel. I would pay a million dollars for one of those cookies right now.
Isn’t that the way with vacation? You dine out constantly, have all these awesome meals, and then you just . . . get tired of it. Take it for granted. After a week away, I long for a simple, light and home-cooked meal — especially these days. But a week or two later, visions of scones start dancing in my head . . .
And they are so dancing right now.
The food was delicious, the service impeccable, the location stunning . . . but the company was the best! Because my parents-in-law live two states away, we don’t see each other as often as we would like — and this weekend away was wonderful for catching up with them and getting some time to chat with my mother-in-law, especially. An avid tea drinker, Alex loved the experience, too — and we both adored having our own pots brewing while we enjoyed our time there.
Should you find yourself in Niagara-on-the-Lake, tea in the Victorian Drawing Room is served daily from noon to 6 p.m. with a variety of options to suit your tastes.
It was really fun to feel sophisticated . . . if only for an afternoon. 😉