The culinary media tour I participated in last month resulted in my knowledge of Canada’s food island getting a good kick in the backside! I was relying on my memories of more than three decades ago! I pigeon-holed Prince Edward Island as a place to eat lobster in church basements, go camping, take in the tourist attractions, spend time soaking up the sun at their awesome sandy beaches, but not really giving a second thought to the diverse foodie haven it has become…or perhaps always was but my youthful mind couldn’t see it back then. I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to see PEI through the eyes of The Culinary Institute of Canada and Tourism PEI. I was like a child discovering something for the very first time.
A PEI food adventure is only limited to your imagination but to help kick-start you off in the right direction, I have shortlisted five for your consideration. The cool thing about the island is that its size allows you to visit the places below and return to your hotel that night. I love vacations where you unpack once!
Glasgow Glen Farm (opened 2014)
Meet chef Jeff McCourt (a graduate from The Culinary Institute of Canada, cookbook author, local food ambassador) and his team for Gouda cheese sampling (15 varieties!) or stay and enjoy their wood-fired artisan Gouda pizzas (savoury and sweet). Book your group for a lesson on how cheese is made, and if you’re staying in Charlottetown, Glasgow Glen Farm is only half an hour away.
PEI Preserve Company
What started thirty years ago by husband and wife duo Bruce and Shirley as a preserve company, has blossomed into a thriving business. The property overlooks Hunter River and the main building houses a large gift shop and restaurant. Their butterfly house is a must-see. And, if you enjoy a cup of tea, there’s something for every taste bud (21 black teas, 8 green teas, 12 herbal teas). If you have room for something sweet, might I suggest their raspberry cream cheese pie…it’s so worth it! Afterwards, wander around their 12-acre gardens where you’ll come across the recently opened Respite Cottage. The cottage is made available for individuals, families, or caregivers coping with the effects of a life-threatening illness. Their cottage is a place of rest, hope and renewed spirit.
Joey’s Deep Sea Fishing
Ever wanted to see how lobster is trapped or hook a big fish like tuna? This first-hand experience will leave you with memories for a lifetime. Our group went out one afternoon and the weather couldn’t have been better! Joey, our captain, pointed out the oyster cages on one side of the boat and on the other were mussel socks. As we went further out into the ocean, our captain said we would pull up 5 lobster traps. I’ve eaten lobster since I was a little girl but have never been on a fishing boat to see how they were caught. It’s exciting to see that first trap land on the boat and wonder what prizes lay inside. Joey let some of us measure the lobster (carapace length). This is done to prevent overfishing and to allow smaller ones back into the ocean. The whole experience of being out on the ocean communing with nature, listening to our knowledgeable captain, gave me a newfound respect for the industry.
Culinary Boot Camps
Do you have a culinary passion and want to enhance your skill? Are you looking for a unique place for a corporate bonding retreat or planning something fun for date night? Perhaps your child shows a keen interest in food. Whatever the scenario, Culinary Boot Camps offer half and full day sessions and is open to ages 7 and up. Learn from the best chefs in their state-of-the-art facility at the Culinary Institute of Canada. Our hands-on session with Chef Erin Henry saw us making sponge toffee dipped in dark chocolate. After putting our aprons and pastry hats on, we broke up into small groups and each workstation was decked out in the all the materials needed. The end result was a sweet tooth heaven!
Upstreet Craft Brewing
Every craft brewer has their story to tell and Upstreet is no different; Hogie started brewing beer in his kitchen 12 years ago. Our group followed Hogie around the stainless steel tanks as he spoke about his early beginnings – brewing in backyards, basements, and barns. Upstreet took two years in the planning. Today they have been in business for two years and already running out of space! Food took a backseat in the initial stages but after consulting with chef Ilona, they now offer a full lunch and dinner. Two years ago Upstreet started collecting proceeds from the sale of every Do-Gooder APA and donating it to local artists and community groups to help support local arts. More recently, the Do-Good Fund announced its artist-in-residence program.
Drop by, order some grub and a beer with the knowledge you helped contribute to their social and environmental initiates just by drinking their beer. What a great way to support the community!
This list should be enough to whet your appetite and hopefully allow you to explore more of the island along the way. The people of PEI are very friendly, hospitable, and helpful. Don’t be shy, ask them a question!
The Culinary Chase’s Note: If you savour java like yours truly, visit Receiver Coffee in one of their two Charlottetown locations. Enjoy!