The evening of Saturday, September 26, 2015, could not have had better weather for a short sunset sail out of Wood Islands, PEI, along the Northumberland Strait. When great PEI food is featured on a sail and dine dinner hosted by celebrity chefs Anna and Michael Olson, you just know it’s going to be an awesome event and this evening delivered on all fronts.
The venue was the mv Confederation which normally operates as a ferry boat between Wood Islands, PEI, and Caribou, Nova Scotia. However, on this Saturday evening, the ship was transformed into an elegant floating dining hall. Staging a PEI Fall Flavours Culinary Event aboard one of the ferry boats is very appropriate given the significance of the ferries to Island life. Before the Confederation Bridge was built and opened to traffic in 1997, the ferry service (there were two – one in Borden-Carleton and the other in Wood Islands) was the only way on or off Prince Edward Island. While the Borden-Carleton to Tormentine, New Brunswick ferry service no longer operates, the ferry service between Wood Islands, PEI, and Caribou, NS, remains in operation.
Greeting guests on the pier as they arrived for dinner were celebrity chef hosts, Anna and Michael Olson.
One of the things I like most about PEI Fall Flavours events is when the chef(s) interact with guests and this couple was very interactive and visible throughout the entire evening.
Upon entering the ship, the lively strains of the musical talents of Mark Haines and Brad Fremlin greeted guests.
The evening began with wine and hors d’oeuvres on the passenger deck.
Brendan MacNeill from Benjamin Bridge Winery in Nova Scotia (this year’s Festival wine sponsor) greeted each guest with a glass of wine.
Check out these tasty sausage and gouda sliders on spent grains buns!
PEI Oysters on the half shell with raspberry mignonette are always a hit!
Lovers of PEI mussels were in for a real treat with these “mussel shooters” which were marinated mussels served with crispy potato bits.
These delicate smoked salmon crepe mini tortes melted in the mouth!
And, these piping hot mini apple cheddar turnovers with honey mustard sauce added a mix of sweet and savory flavours.
Rounding out the hors d’oeuvres was a cheese table compliments of the Dairy Farmers of Canada.
The lively musicians moved upstairs to entertain guests while they enjoyed hors d’oeuvres.
As guests sampled the hors d’oeuvres, the mv Confederation left on a short sail of the Northumberland Strait, past iconic lighthouses.
The evening light changed quickly. Yes, our cliffs really are this ruddy red color on PEI!
How stunning was this evening sky! This was the view from the top deck of the mv Confederation (unfiltered and non-retouched).
And, as the shades of the evening sky started to fade away, and the mv Confederation made its way back to port, thoughts turned to the dinner that awaited guests.
Curious to know how a ferry boat could be turned into a stunning dining hall or how food for a large number of guests could be prepared on board?
Enter a mobile kitchen and a team of chefs and professionally-trained wait staff from the Culinary Institute of Canada, part of Holland College in Charlottetown, PEI. I have been at events this group has catered to before and they are #1, hands down. I cannot even begin to imagine the level of organization and planning that would have been put in to this dinner which was very capably and efficiently executed.
I took a couple of quick photos from a distance of the mobile kitchen that had been brought on board for the event and the culinary team hard at work behind the scenes.
This food prep center was at one end of the car deck on the mv Confederation where, just mere hours before, autos would have been offloading having crossed the Northumberland Strait.
The main part of the car deck on the boat was transformed into this festive venue.
Note that this is just a small part of the dining area.
Here’s a closer look at the elegantly-set tables, resplendent in their fall rust-colored theme.
Now, for the three-course meal. Each course was served with wine pairings from Benjamin Bridge Winery.
Fresh rolls and jars of homemade bread and butter pickles and chow were on each table. The appetizer consisted of warm lobster fricassee and butter-poached claw on garlic mashed potatoes cozied up with a whiskey butter sauce and garnished with baby cress.
This was beyond decadent!
The main course consisted of “Sydney St. Premium Stout” beer-braised PEI beef short rib with cheddar crumble accompanied by a fluffy dumpling and roasted root vegetables.
And, then of course, the pièce de résistance – Chef Anna’s warm sticky toffee pudding topped with a pumpkin spice caramel and pumpkinseed praline! Can you say ‘melt in your mouth’?
Throughout the dinner, entertainment was provided by Irish Mythen.
Anyone for Bingo? Our Bingo callers, Chefs Anna and Michael, engaged everyone in a lively game of PEI Bingo in between the main and dessert courses.
This was a first class event all the way and exhibited the “WOW” factor. Congratulations to the organizers, chefs, wait staff, and entertainers for yet again another fine PEI Fall Flavours Culinary Festival event.
If you have never been to one of these Festival events, I highly recommend them. They are very well done and are a great way to sample premier Island foods presented in creative ways.
For more information on the PEI Fall Flavours Culinary Festival and information on tickets and upcoming culinary events, visit their website.
To read stories about other Fall Flavours Culinary Events I have attended, click on these links:
Feast and Frolic Dinner (PEI Int’l Shellfish Festival) (2014)
Beef and Blues (2014)
A Taste of New Glasgow (2015)
Beef ‘n Blues (2015)
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