“The first sip is joy, the second is gladness, the third is serenity, the fourth is madness, the fifth is ecstasy.” -Jack Kerouac (The Dharma Bums)
It was a sunny morning in Malpeque, and it was time for tea. My pocket held a list of shops and restaurants that dot the north shore. I had been tasked with making a visit to each locale. But what would tea be without company? With my girlfriend by my side, I was prepared for the outing. Yes, it had all the makings of a pleasant day.
The O’Neill Home Gallery is located in a charming century home in Malpeque. Entering inside, we were enthralled by the stunning paintings by Scott O’Neill, each work illustrating a beautiful scene of Prince Edward Island. The gallery doubles as a cafe, and there are locally made products for sale. We decided to sit out on the deck. I ordered a cinnamon roll and a Lady’s Slipper blend tea. The cinnamon roll was served with an irresistible warm glaze. It didn’t last long. As for the tea, I have three cups down before Kendra has finished her first. A sip became a slurp, and so on until I was downing cups regardless of form or manners. I can’t recommend Lady’s Slipper blend enough.
Once I had composed myself we headed off towards Fox, a little barn that sells jewelry, tea, artwork, and other fine objects. We were greeted warmly at the door by Cheryl, one of Fox’s owner-operators. Besides running the shop, Cheryl makes and sells exquisite jewelry.
As I browsed at Fox, I couldn’t help but laugh when I realized that a number of products were made by relatives and acquaintances of mine. My aunt Tania’s calligraphy was on display, as well as antiques that my own father had scavenged for. There’s something poignant about putting a face to a product. We were able to understand the inspiration behind a painting and see the scouting eye of the antique hunter.
It was noon when we arrived in North Rustico. Emmett & Ellies is a cute shop that sells pottery, nautical decor, and delicious-smelling handmade soap. As soon as I walked in my nose led me to a lime-scented bar of soap. In fact, there were a multitude of unique soaps. I thought about cursing aloud to try to provoke someone into washing my mouth out with soap–I wouldn’t have minded in the slightest!
Just down the road was the Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers. I avoided getting a feed of lobster, as I’m allergic, but we did drop by the gift shop, where, hidden among the lobster-themed items we found a display of Lady Baker’s loose-leaf tea.
Up the hill we went, and on towards Covehead Wharf in Stanhope. I was excited upon arrival, as I have spent a lot of time at Covehead over the years. We walked into the Shore Market, located on the wharf. If you’re looking for fresh seafood, local meat or baked goods, the Shore Market is guaranteed to satisfy your hungry yearnings.
I poured myself a cup of Sencha Cherry tea, a flavoured green tea with a surprise. Rose petals from PEI are added to the blend. But that wasn’t the only surprise taking place within the walls of the Shore Market…
In typical island fashion, my grandma walked in just as I finished pouring my cup of tea! We had a grand old laugh and snapped a photo together.
But the day was hot and the beach was just a short walk away, and I was itching for a swim.
Covehead beach is not your classic Island beach. You can jump from the wharf into the sea, and the water gets deep just a few feet in. I’ve always enjoyed those two elements. The only downside is that there is always a strong current making it impossible to float idly in the salty sea. Upon finishing my tea, I dove right in. As far as refreshing yourself, nothing quite compares to the invigorating feeling of being immersed in ocean water.
After the swim it was time to change back into my classier clothing. The apex of the trip was approaching: Afternoon Tea at Dalvay-by-the-Sea. Dalvay is the perfect location for a tea-drinker. Completed in 1896 and now a hotel, Dalvay is timelessly elegant. There are grand fireplaces and a majestic sweeping staircase leading up to the rooms. We were led into the dining room, with large windows that looked out onto the gardens and lake. We both admitted that we were going to enjoy feeling like royalty for a couple of hours!
There was a vast selection of Lady Baker’s Tea to choose from. I chose the Earl Grey, and Kendra chose the Blooming Blueberry tea. Kendra’s tea arrived with a delightful aroma of PEI blueberries. Then came the triple-tiered stand, which held impeccable morsels of sweets and finger sandwiches. Hungry after our day’s travels, we commenced eating. The smoked salmon crepes were delicious. We also enjoyed the smoked chicken sandwiches and the blueberry creme puffs. On the top tier was a plate of Dalvay’s famous date pudding, which was fantastic!
We left Dalvay satiated from having enjoyed some of the best food and drink on the Island. Walking down the wide front staircase and into the warm summer breeze, I paused for a moment, not wanting the trip to end. But as we drove away I smiled, knowing that new exploits were bound to come calling. For there’s always a friendly face and a steaming pot of tea just around the corner!