Prince Edward Island: The Gentle Island
Last week at the crack of dawn I boarded my first of three planes en route to Prince Edward Island (PEI) Canada. If you know me, you know I’m REALLY excited to make a trip if I wake up that early. Although I’ve traveled to many countries all over the world I had never visited Canada. I know eh? Did I mention I’m now fluent in French Canadian? Not true but fun to pretend. Even before landing, from the air you can see that Prince Edward Island is simply stunning. I was ready to see all that PEI had to offer and see I did.
I was in PEI on a culinary travel outreach trip sponsored by PEI Tourism. Tough job right? I’m going to add professional eater to my business card. While I was there I ate my weight in shellfish: lobster, scallops, oysters, and mussels. It might take me a few weeks before I can get out of these yoga pants. Sigh. But before we get to the shellfish I have to tell you about potatoes. Not just any potatoes world famous PEI potatoes grown from the good red islander earth.
We took our party bus to Gerrit Visser & Sons (one of 330 potato growers on PEI) to get up close and personal with PEI potatoes. We put on our gloves and dived into that rich red soil to unearth a few of our very own potatoes then we backed up and let the professionals do their thing. We watched as they were cleaned, bagged and stored before they’re shipped out all over the world. Yes the world. PEI potatoes are big business. The potato industry is worth over a billion BILLION dollars to the PEI economy every year. That’s no small potato is it?
Of course they didn’t send us away without letting us eat those delicious veggies. You heard right, potatoes are a vegetable and good for you at that. Did you know that potatoes are naturally fat free, sodium free and gluten free? So go ahead and load up (well minus the sour cream, cheese, bacon, butter).
Chef Robert Pendergrast treated us to a potato inspired spread. We noshed on:
- Rustic PEI Potato Bread with Roasted Mushroom Tartinade.
- Grandma Pendergast’s PEI Potato and Oyster Stew with Chive Drizzle.
- Braised Island Beef with PEI Potatoes and Root Vegetables with Herb Butter.
- Warm PEI Potato and Wild Blueberry Pudding with Rum.
With two courses served from a Mason jar – this Southern girl felt right at home (even though I was from away). So multi talented is chef, he even serenaded us while we dined. Honestly I was swept away by his bread, I’m pretty sure I consumed a loaf by myself. I have been dreaming about that bread. Not even kidding.
Before heading back we took a trip around Point Prim. The lighthouse was the first and oldest lighthouse on the island (built in 1845) and boasted some of the most beautifully breathtaking views. Off from the lighthouse was this little boat. I could have napped in that boat (while snacking on a little more of that potato bread) instead we headed back and freshened up for the PEI International Shellfish Festival.
PEI International Shellfish Festival was a 4 day festival that celebrated PEI Shellfish and agricultural products. During Friday night’s Feast & Frolic dinner one of my favorite dishes was Chef Mark McEwan‘s Butter Braised Lobster Poutine, Crisp Frites, Classic Bernaise. What can be bad about all of that? Nothing. Before the poutine police come after me, I realize that this is not in fact a “classic” poutine as it is clearly missing cheese curds. I did not name the dish. But one bite of it and I promise you won’t care what it’s called. Best dish of the night hands down.
Saturday we boarded up our party bus and headed to the North Shore to learn about Mussels and Oysters, our guide for the adventure was Linda Duncan (aka Mussel Mamma). After dawning the mandatory hair nets (I think I’m going to start traveling with a fun and girly shower cap it has to be better looking than a hairnet) we toured and saw mussel mania. It’s completely fascinating to see how mussels are grown, harvested and then packaged for shipment.
Up next oysters! We popped over to Raspberry Point where Scott Linkletter loaded us onto his oyster barge (did you know these don’t have rails gah) and gave us a personal tour. “Raspberry Point is much prized and sought after for its wonderful salty taste, clean flavor with a distinct and interesting sweet aftertaste. Each Raspberry Point takes 6-7 years to grow to shucking size and is of the finest quality because it is grown in the cool clean waters of Prince Edward Island, just off Raspberry Point.”
I have a new appreciation for oysters and oyster growers. Now where is my oyster shucking knife?
Those are rows and rows and rows of oyster baskets bobbing in the tides just waiting to grow to the appropriate size.
I made wonderful new friends, saw beautiful scenery and ate some of the most amazing food. I have to admit though, my most favorite meal of the trip was at Sims Corner Steakhouse & Oyster Bar . I noshed on:
- Taylor’s Double Smoked Bacon, Sweet Corn Raviolis Topped with a Lemon, Dill Cream Sauce
- Sim’s Vegas Strip Steak Choco – Coffee Crusted , with a Broiled Lobster Tail Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges, Seasonal Vegetables
- Layered Blueberry “Cheese Cake”Topped with a Blueberry and Raspberry Compote
I hope to return one day to see the rest that PEI has to offer (bluefin tuna catch/release fishing, potato vodka factory and so much more).
Disclaimer: PEI Tourism sponsored my trip and all of my expenses. I was not compensated for this review. Opinions are my own. Always have been. Always will be.