A Sip of Ireland in the Catskills
East Durham's Irish Tea Shop is the polar opposite of my favorite Brooklyn coffee shop, and that's what I love most about it. In the city, I want to grab a cup and go, but here I like to channel my Inner Irish Grandma, grab some tea and scones, and chat with the weekend hosts, Jack and Margaret Gavin, the retired owners of Gavin's Irish Country Inn. Their daughter, Bernadette, is now a third-generation innkeeper at Gavin's and opened this tea shop last year. But with its country decor, checkerboard table and homey vibes, the Irish Tea Shop feels like a place that's been around forever.
The two-room shop has seating and gifts on one side, and tea and snacks on the other. They do serve coffee, but the focus is fresh baked goods, along with tea and biscuits imported from Ireland.
If you're into their homemade soda bread and scones, the Gavin family also produces a line of bread and scone mixes and you can grab a packaged Nellie Gavin's baking mix to take home.
They've got sunny window seating in both rooms, and I just read on their Facebook page that they have free Wi-Fi. We can't get internet service our double-wide, so welcome to my new upstate office, guys! I'll be chatting with Jack and Margaret about the good old days in East Durham and getting absolutely no writing done.
If you need a souvenir from the Irish Catskills, check out their selection of Irish mugs, tiny tea kettles and other gifts imported from Ireland.
We took a few scones to go and polished off the raspberry white chocolate scone on the way home. Saran-wrapped and stickered, it looked like a homemade treat from a friendly neighbor. Scones are too often crusty and dry, but this one was buttery, creamy, and rich, made with the simplest ingredients and generously studded with whole raspberries and white chocolate chips.
We saved a chocolate chip scone for Archer. He took a look, took a bite, and then was like SCONE DANCE! Next time, we'll bring three generations of our family to this homey, kid-friendly, grandma-friendly shop.