I have to begin this inaugural post with a disclaimer. I don’t even really like scones. Prior to being bewitched, I had only eaten one scone worth blogging about, at the garden restaurant of the Ritz Paris. It was divine, but so was the cream, and the jam, and the garden, and the whole sensory experience is, in retrospect, hard to properly untangle.
Then I moved to Ottawa from Montreal a few years ago. The thing about Ottawa is, it’s much nicer than it used to be, and much more cool than people think it is. Ottawa is that slightly stand-offish girl at a party, who looks deadly bored and is dressed in an ill-fitting suit, but who opens up and tells you about her t-shirt design business and her weekend job as a DJ when you take the time to talk to her.
What? Scones, you say? OK, ok.
So one of the first places I discovered in Ottawa was the Scone Witch. At the time, she had two locations, one in a lovely old home at Albert and Lyon (in the heart of Ottawa’s “business” area downtown) and one on Crichton in New Edinburgh (essentially a doorway and a counter-top).
Heather Matthews is indeed a witch; there is simply no other moniker for a woman who can do such marvelous things to a scone. Not to mention the play-on-words of the name of the establishment: Heather may be the witch, but among the other white magic she performs, she also makes her scones into sandwiches (or, of course, sconewitches).
The scones in question are both light and crunchy, with the perfect mix of flavours (she makes sweet ones: vanilla cream, lemon-poppyseed, orange-cranberry; and savoury ones: cheddar, herb and onion). They are never, ever dry. You can eat them on their own, and they are an adventure, or you can opt for the more traditional accompaniment of Devon cream and/or jam.
Behold my favourite, a cheddar sconewitch with tuna and black olive paste.
In addition to your regular scones (individually priced, or by the half-dozen or dozen; also available frozen or day-old) and your sconewitches, you can also get a lovely breakfast (eggs and veggies with a scone, and a tiny salad and fruit garnish), or a mealwitch. Oh, and of course you can get infinite varities of tea, strong coffee, and cool drinks (I love her even more for stocking Bottle Green drinks – why is Elderflower so hard to find in North America?)
The Scone Witch has made some changes in the (few) years since I have been in Ottawa, also: she closed down the Crichton St. closet, and opened a much larger (thank God!) location in the heart of Beechwood Village here in Ottawa, a location with lovely big windows looking right out to Beechwood (and in the same building as Books on Beechwood), featuring the same simple pale wood furnishings as the Kent and Lyon location. She also sells lovely cards, tea cosies, and assorted other crafty items, especially in the larger Beechwood Village location.
For many years, my place of employment (and some of the librarians I consort with) have used Scone Witch’s catering services for events. Nothing takes the edge off another professional meeting like a Scone Witch scone. In fact, recently, a colleague tried to entice me to an event with the promise of lunch-time catering from Scone Witch. It almost worked (perhaps thankfully, it does take more than a scone to buy me).
We almost had a Witch – Librarian schism looming, as the site for our new Central Library was intended to be the city block on which Scone Witch’s original location (Albert and Lyon) now sits. Alas, plans for this site fell through, thereby meaning librarians had to both breathe a sigh of relief and feel disappointed at the same time.
So I suppose you are wondering, did I have any scones when I was recently in England? No! Why would I bother? The perfect scone is just a hop, skip and a jump away for me! Hooray!
Scone Witch publicity:
“Scone Witch: Ensorcelant” par Christine Moisan (sur Voir.ca)
“Sweet and savoury sorcery” by Shawna Wagman (from Ottawa XPress)