Afternoon Tea at Eldon House

Tea tables, Eldon House, London, OntarioThis past Sunday, the boy and I spent a sunny, relaxing afternoon drinking tea on the grounds of Eldon House in London, Ontario. Nestled under the shade of a magnolia tree, we were treated to the sounds of a ballgame floating over the river, a game played in the oldest continually operating baseball grounds in the world. It was the perfect summer afternoon.

Having lived in London for quite a few years now, I don’t know why it has taken me this long to experience the tea program offered by Eldon House. I’m glad I didn’t wait much longer to rectify this mistake or I would have had to wait another year. Afternoon Tea is only offered from the end of June to the end of August, with a handful of special tea events sprinkled throughout the year.Porch, Eldon House, London, OntarioGrounds, Eldon House, London, OntarioUrns, Eldon House, London, OntarioAfter choosing our spot, a little table set for two, we were attended by a staff member dressed in a service uniform. She explained our tea choices; I opted for the Boston tea and the boy ordered the Eldon House blend. She soon returned with a tray filled with warm scones, jam, butter, whipped cream, fruit, and warm tea pots. We filled our charmingly mismatched cups with the deep amber liquid and left a trail of crumbs for the ants. The tables around us were soon occupied by visitors of all ages, laughing and drinking the genial beverage.

Staff, Eldon House, London, Ontario   Tea Service, Eldon House, London, OntarioCarriage House, Eldon House, London, OntarioFront Garden, Eldon House, London, OntarioServing tea, Eldon House, London, OntarioTea tables, Eldon House, London, Ontario       Cobblestones and Cappuccinos, Eldon House, London, OntarioMagnolia tree, Eldon House, London, OntarioPost tea, the boy and I took a tour around Eldon House, which is included in the price of the tea service. Although we had an option to poke around on our own, we opted for a guided tour.

It was worth every penny to learn that the original estate, built in 1834, stretched to the Thames River and covered 11 acres which included a golf course and pool. The house and most of the contents are original and were donated to the city by the great-grandchildren of John Harris, for whom the nearby park is named. The museum is an exciting and rather rare glimpse into the lives of London’s most prosperous residents. I urge you to check out the contents of the curio cabinet in the smoking nook!

Grounds and pond, Eldon House, London, OntarioWith only three weeks left until the Eldon House Tea Program is over for the season, I highly recommend a visit…and don’t forget to make a reservation! You can find all the information you’ll need right here.

Sign-off

Mythic Grill, A Taste of Greece in London

Entrance to Mythic GrillDuring the most recent wave of warmth and sunshine to grace London, I was inspired to venture outdoors in search of some Mediterranean cuisine. For a long time now, I had heard rumours of a restaurant hidden in the downtown core renowned for not only their food but also the service. With an eye out for this Greek oasis calling to me like a siren song, I answered the lure of the Mythic Grill.

Exterior view of the Mythic GrillCorner booth at Mythic GrillDining room at Mythic GrillAlthough the restaurant boasts a small patio which is extremely popular in the summer months, we make ourselves comfortable in the small, jewel coloured interior of the restaurant. The design aesthetic is definitely not minimal or pared down but envelops with a rich, dark vibe that automatically makes it an intimate, romantic experience. And making great use of my knowledge of ancient Greek archaeology, I catch the nod to Crete’s history and it’s ancient Minoan culture in the form of inverted columns and the wall paintings.

But I’m not here for a history lesson. I’m here to satisfy my craving for great homemade Greek cuisine. With a little prompting from our very attentive waiter, we make our final selections.

Mythic Grill menu coverWe start with the salty Saganaki appetizer that comes with a shot of flaming ouzo and an obligatory “Opa” that I could do without. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this gorgeous hunk of melted cheese once it hits the mouth. We don’t even bother with the accompanying pita so as not to spoil the taste.

Saganaki - flaming cheeseAs for the entrees, I chose the traditional moussaka tower of beef, eggplant and bechamel sauce, while the boy satisfied his seafood craving with a plate of fried calamari and roast potatoes smothered with creamy tzatziki. The food was so plentiful that I didn’t have enough room for dessert, especially after looting some of the delicious morsels from the plate across from mine.

Moussaka dinner with riceCalamari dinner with roast potatoesMythic Grill did not disappoint. In fact, based on our brief experience, I wasn’t surprised how quickly the dining room filled up in a restaurant that doesn’t take reservations. However, from the numerous greetings exchanged between the guests and waitstaff, it was clear that this restaurant has a loyal following. And now they can add another two to their growing list of fans.

Diners at the restaurant

A Birthday Surprise

Razzle Dazzle Cupckes London Ontario - Chocolate Raspberry Truffle ShuffleToday is my birthday!!!! I’m not shy about celebrating my special day and extending it into a birthday weekend. The opportunity to spend laugh-filled moments with my friends and family is a joy I look forward to all year. The ever increasing number on my “age-o-metre” never bothers me because I know that a number doesn’t reflect on my life. It only reflects on the time I’ve had to collect all the experiences which have shaped me into the person I am today!

All year I look forward to the yummy treats I allow myself to indulge in without guilt or regret. In fact, my biggest problem is coming up with where I’d like to go for my birthday dinner. To solve that issue, last year, the boy gave me “7 Days of Dinners” as a birthday gift. Every day, for a week, we had dinner at a different restaurant of my choice! By the end of the week I was stuffed and had all my cravings satisfied. It was amazing!

This year, my first birthday surprise was this beauty. The boy snuck off to my favourite London cupcake shop Razzle Dazzle Cupcakes and presented me with a delicious confection called the Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Shuffle.  The chocolate cake was light and moist, while the pink cloud of raspberry frosting was whipped perfection decorated with tiny pearls. It was a sweet start to my birthday.

Destination Dining in London

Dining Room at Dolcetto Risto in London OntarioIf you’re looking for a casual, modern restaurant that serves housemade Italian food in London, Ontario, look no further than Dolcetto Risto. Located in the southwest corner of the ever expanding city limits, this Italian restaurant is quite the distance from the dining-focused downtown core. The location is actually part of an outdoor mall, surrounded by a gym, a grocery store, a bank, and a coffee shop. That is not necessarily a bad thing since parking is more than ample. And in my opinion, every part of this city deserves a unique dining spot and this one, because of its location, is definitely a destination.

In a style I like to call Scando-italian, the large open dining room features polished concrete floors, streamlined wood furniture and accents, and large windows that allow in generous light and open to a patio in the warmer months. The neutral vibe reads calm, but the atmosphere is lively and energetic, especially when you peek into the kitchen which stands in full display to the rest of the dining space.

View of Bar at Dolcetto Risto in London OntarioDining area at Dolcetto Italian Restaurant in London Ontario Regardless of where you are seated, the food remains the draw. The boy and I have made the visit a number of times. Each time we make an effort to try something different but a few items stand out as favourites. The large veal and ricotta meatballs, the calamari salad, and the creatively garnished, thin crust pizzas top the list.

With the weather on the milder side this weekend, we found ourselves in the Byron area and I suggested Dolcetto as a lunch spot (the boy didn’t need much persuading!). Seated by the large windows and basking in the sun streaming in, we placed our order. We started off with complementary fresh focaccia and an olive oil and balsamic dip. The soft, salty bread soaked up the oil beautifully and helped to bide time before our meals arrived.

The attentive server kept our water drinks filled until our food was served. The boy chose a trio of crispy arancini (risotto balls) on a bed of tomato sauce.They arrived hot and crunchy on the outside and hot and cheesy on the inside. I wanted a heartier meal and chose broad pappardelle noodles topped with a short rib ragu in a wine sauce. I was surprised at the amount and, to be honest, I couldn’t finish the entire plate. Of course, it was a great excuse to have it for lunch the next day.

Foccaccia with olive oil and balsamic dip at Dolcetto Risto in London OntarioArancini at Dolcetto Italian Restaurant in London OntarioPapardelle with short rib ragu at Dolcetto Italian Restaurant in London OntarioA forkful of papardelle at Dolcetto Risto in LondonAnd if you haven’t guessed by now I have a bit of a sweet tooth so no dining experience would be complete without dessert. We chose to share a double plate of cannoli. The sweet ricotta cheese filling was speckled with chocolate from a local producer, Habitual Chocolate (I absolutely love it when local businesses support each other – a huge kudos to Dolcetto!). However, unlike the traditional version of a cannoli shell, Dolcetto makes they’re own using a pizzelle press for a lighter and fresher taste. The result is a large crispy exterior which is the perfect foil to the creamy core. A perfect pairing with a cup of strong coffee!

Double cannoli at Dolcetto Risto Italian Restaurant in London OntarioNow I can’t wait until the weather gets warm and once again I indulge in some freshly baked pizza and a glass of wine on the patio. I hope you guys can find your way here and give this Italian restaurant a try!