Twillingate is well known for the large icebergs that drift by the community in spring and early summer. I remember when my children were very young, we sailed there for the Fish ,Fun and Folk festival. We were fascinated by an enormous burg sitting just off the land. The breeze blowing over the ice was fresh and cold while a few metres either side it the air was balmy and warm. This year I visited again after more than twenty-five years. I didn’t see a burg that was grounded near by because we were searching for dinner theatres, concerts, b&bs , and restaurants. Had I known about the glacial visitor I would have made a point of viewing it.
But as I said other attractions had brought me to Twillingate. At the top of my agenda for the day was a meal. And the Cozy Tea Room beckoned. My attention was drawn to a sign that said Jiggs Dinner. Every Newfoundlander worth his salt has enjoyed hundreds of jiggs dinners. It is a meal as dear and beloved as kimchi to a Korean, pasta to an Italian, and sushi to a Japanese. It is our heritage, our culture. Wrapped up in the aura of jiggs dinners are memories of family gatherings, outdoor boil-ups and community suppers. Salt beef , cabbage , turnip , carrot, dumplings, potatoes, parsnip, turnip greens and peas pudding comprise this meal. And it is one of the easiest meals to prepare; all ingredients are tossed in the same pot at varying times so that they all reach the correct degree of doneness together. Then it is served with pickles that are usually home-made or beets, my favourite, and for some , ketchup or mustard. Personally I favour ketchup. My father, on the other hand , loved to take some of the pot liquor and pour over his meal.
The sign said Jiggs Dinner so in we trotted to place our orders, my mother , my sister and me. The little restaurant was charming. It was in what appeared to have been the garage of a house. But once you entered you were aware only of a tea room. There were racks of baked goods to the left of the door against the wall. Cookies , tarts, pies and breads reached out and grabbed my eyeballs. I spotted some jam tarts like my mother used to make when I was a child. I remember hers were filled with jam and topped with Nestle’s or Fussel’s canned cream. These were similar but had a coconut crust on top. We bought some and enjoyed them later at our B&B.
The tea room was brightly painted in a daffodil yellow and blue. All the cloth covered tables seated two but a little manoeuvering and we had a table for four. The waitresses were attentive, pleasant and as we say in Newfoundland “clean as pins”. I noticed the jiggs dinner was pricey and voiced my opinion. ” But it is a VERY LARGE portion”, the waitress explained. Mom took her at her word and ordered it. I chose a bowl of chili with garlic cheese bread . My sister opted for a grilled cheese sandwich. The meal arrived . And indeed there was more than we could handle in one sitting. By the time we were ready to leave our bellies were groaning from the huge quantity of food. I had to take mine with me in a doggie bag because Mom had insisted on sharing her jiggs dinner with me . There was too much for her to handle. So if you do visit the Cozy Tea Room in Twillingate, believe it when they tell you the portions are large. The three of us had big appetites that can outeat the hungriest logger but our stomachs could not meet the challenge we met that day.