Famous Island Shellfish Featured at PEI Mussels on the Hill Event

On a lovely Sunday afternoon on a hill in beautiful Clinton, PEI, the 2016 PEI Fall Flavors Culinary Festival came to a conclusion with a finale event featuring one of PEI’s finest shellfish – mussels.

The photo below shows an example of the mussel sock in which mussels grow.

Mussel Sock
Mussels in the Sock in Which They are Grown

According to the PEI Mussel Industry Council of PEI, the Island produces about 45 million pounds of mussels each year. This translates into approximately 80% of the entire mussel production in  Canada. So, it is only fitting that an Island culinary festival would dedicate an entire event to featuring mussels.

Clinton Hills, PEI
Clinton Hills, PEI

The Clinton Hills venue, frequently used for wedding receptions, proved to be a great location for this function which was hosted by guest celebrity chefs Anna and Michael Olson who are no strangers to the PEI Fall Flavors Culinary Festival. Anna and Michael have been a part of the Festival for many years and often host two to three signature events at the Festival each year.

Chef Anna Olson and Chef Michael Olson
Chefs Anna and Michael Olson

The event began with a large campfire upon which the mussels were steamed.

Steaming Mussels on an Open Fire
Steaming Mussels on an Open Fire

Yes, those tightly wrapped tinfoil packets contain mussels.

Campfire
Tending the Fire

Everything always tastes better cooked over an open fire! Opening up the tinfoil packets revealed these tasty treats. Three options were available: Mussels steamed in white wine, orange juice, or a Caesar mix, all with aromatics added.

PEI Mussels
Steamed PEI Mussels

Mussels and corn on the cob are a great combo!

Mussels and Corn on the Cob
Mussels and Corn on the Cob

Chef Anna is checking out the yummy mussels.

Chef Anna Olson
Chef Anna Olson
Serving up the Steamed Mussels and Corn on the Cob
Serving up the Steamed Mussels and Corn on the Cob

Even chefs, like the rest of us foodies, just have to photograph their food before consuming it!

Chef Anna and Chef Michael Olson
Chef Anna and Chef Michael Olson

Around the campfire….

Around the Campfire
Around the Campfire

Any good party on PEI will have lively music. The strolling musicians were Mark Haines (fiddle) and Brad Fremlin (accordian).

Island Musicians Mark Haines (left) and Brad Fremlin (right)
Island Musicians Mark Haines (left) and Brad Fremlin (right)
Island Musician, Mark Haines
Island Musician, Mark Haines

After enjoying the mussels and corn by the campfire, folks moved over to the large tent just outside the event barn.

Clinton Hills, PEI
Mussels on the Hill Event at Clinton Hills, PEI (2016)

The PEI Brewing Company was serving some of their award winning beer.

PEI Beer
PEI Brewing Company Beer

Nova Scotia’s Benjamin Bridge Winery was the 2016 wine sponsor for the PEI Fall Flavors Culinary Festival.  They were pouring their famous Nova 7 wine. One of the great things about culinary festivals is the opportunity to discover new products. I discovered the Nova 7 wine at the PEI Fall Flavors Culinary Festival events in 2015 when Benjamin Bridge was also the wine sponsor.  This wine is an aromatic light-bodied  effervescent wine with a beautiful salmon or light coral color. Look for appealing aromatics with lovely floral and fruit notes in this wine. The Nova 7 is a very versatile wine, perfect for sipping or for pairing with a variety of foods, including seafood which made it a suitable accompaniment to the mussel dishes served at this event.

Nova Scotia Wine
Benjamin Bridge’s Nova 7 Wine

Making my rounds inside the tent, I started with a bowl of delectable homemade mussel chowder.

Mussel Chowder
Mussel Chowder
Chowder
Mussel Chowder

This was followed by yummy mussel fritters served in slider rolls.

Serving Mussel Fritters
Serving Mussel Fritters

I had not had mussel fritters before and these were super tasty!

Mussels
Mussel Fritters

Mussel Fritters in Slider Rolls
Mussel Fritters in Slider Rolls

Upstairs in the main event barn, lobster poutine was being served. This was one event where you wanted to make sure you left the diet at home!

Poutine
Mussel Poutine

Anna and Michael did a demo of their favorite ways to steam mussels and adding aromatics to enhance the flavor of these tasty morsels. I like when the event also has a learning component to it.

Chefs Anna and Michael Olson at Clinton Hills, PEI (2016)
Chefs Anna and Michael Olson at Clinton Hills, PEI (2016)

Wagon rides around the farm were available throughout the afternoon. This was a rather stylish wagon ride with its benches!

Hayride
Hayride at Clinton Hills

If you are a foodie, then I recommend a trip to PEI in September when the whole month is dedicated to culinary events featuring one or more of the Island’s fine foods. It’s a great way to learn about the foods of PEI, try some new foods or new and different ways to serve them, and hear some great local musicians.

To read stories I have written about other PEI Fall Flavors Culinary Festival events, follow these links:

PEI Shellfish Festival (2012)
Farm Day in the City (2012)
Savour Victoria (2012)
Toes, Taps, and Taters (2013)
Lobster Party on the Beach (2013)
Applelicious (2013)
The Great Island Grilled Cheese Challenge (2013)
Feast of the Fathers (2014)
Lamb Luau at Crowbush Cove (2014)
Feast and Frolic Dinner (PEI International Shellfish Festival) (2014)
Beef and Blues (2014)
A Taste of New Glasgow (2015)
Beef ‘n Blues (2015)
Chef on Board (2015)
Cooking with Chefs Anna & Michael Olson in Brudenell, PEI (2015)
Le Festin acadien avec homard/Acadian Feast with Lobster (2016)
The Great Big Barbeque (2016)

Pin to Pinterest!

PEI Fall Flavors Culinary Festival
Chefs Anna and Michael Olson at PEI’s Mussels on the Hill Culinary Event

PEI’s Great Big Barbeque

One of the 2016 signature events for the PEI Fall Flavors Culinary Festival was the Great Big Barbeque.  Hosted by celebrity chef, Mark McEwan, this event was held at the PEI Brewing Company in Charlottetown.

Chef Mark McEwan
Chef Mark McEwan

The Great Big Barbeque was a roving feast with food stations set up around the perimeter of the brewery as well as on the second level.

Roving Among the Food Stations at PEI's Great Big Barbeque
Roving Among the Food Stations at PEI’s Great Big Barbeque

In total, there were nine different food stations each featuring a local Island Chef with a signature dish.

Benjamin Bridge Winery, the 2016 Festival wine sponsor, greeted each patron with a glass of their Nova 7 wine.

Wine
Benjamin Bridge Wine

The PEI Brewing Company was kept busy serving small mugs of their handcrafted Gahan Ale straight from the tank. You can read the story I previously wrote about this brewery by clicking here.

PEI Brewing Company
Gahan Ale fresh from the tank at the PEI Brewing Company
Beer
Locally brewed beer from the PEI Brewing Company

The main event hall was set up with picnic tables.  From here, patrons circulated around the food stations in the order of their choosing.

The Great Big Barbeque at the PEI Brewing Company, Charlottetown, PEI
The Great Big Barbeque at the PEI Brewing Company, Charlottetown, PEI

The Adam MacGregor Band provided lively entertainment for the evening.

Adam MacGregor Band Performing at PEI's Great Big Barbeque
Adam MacGregor Band Performing at PEI’s Great Big Barbeque

Station #1 – PEI Seafood Chowder

Chef Kyle Panton (Simms Corner Steakhouse and Oyster Bar) was kept busy dishing out his award-winning seafood chowder which he served in small glass jars.

Seafood Chowder
Chef Kyle Panton

The chowder was accompanied by homemade biscuits, always a winning combo.

Biscuits
Homemade Biscuits

Station #2 – Lobster Poutine

Chef Brad MacDonald (The Brickhouse Kitchen and Bar) served up a dish featuring Island lobster and potatoes in the form of lobster poutine – hand-cut fries with a lobster veloute and melted cheese curds.

Serving up Lobster Poutine
Serving up Lobster Poutine
Poutine
Lobster Poutine

Station #3 – Glasgow Glen Farm’s Grilled Cheese

Jeff McCourt, chef and cheesemaker, from Glasgow Glen Farm in New Glasgow served an open-faced grilled Gouda cheese sandwich with smoked salmon and apple slaw on baguette slices.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Glasglow Glen Farm’s Open-faced Grilled Gouda Cheese Sandwich
Adding the Apple Relish
Adding the Apple Slaw
Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Open-faced Grilled Gouda Cheese Sandwich with Smoked Salmon and Apple Slaw on Baguette Slices

Station #4 – PEI Brewing Company Wood Fire Pizza

The brewery has a wood fire brick oven which was kept hopping with fresh made-to-order pizzas.

Wood-fired Brick Oven
Wood-fired Pizza
Pizza
Wood-fired Pizza

Station #5 – Island Striploin with Lobster Béarnaise

Chefs Cody Wallace (Fishbones Oyster Bar and Seafood Grill) and Jordan Dennis (Sobeys West Royalty) teamed up to present grilled PEI beef striploin with lobster béarnaise.

Steak with Lobster Sauce
PEI Beef Striploin with Lobster Béarnaise
Beef Striploin
PEI Beef Striploin with Lobster Béarnaise
Beef Striploin
PEI Beef Striploin with Lobster Béarnaise

Station #6 – Island Beef Burger

The barbeques were kept busy grilling the slider beef burgers which Chef Brock MacDonald (The Gahan House) presented on cornbread brioche with avocado mayo, pickled red onions, and peppercorn blue cheese.

Station #7 – Marinated BBQ Kabobs

A huge barbeque at the brewery’s side door was filled with veggie kabobs consisting of zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes grilled in a smoky Gahan Iron Bridge Brown Ale BBQ sauce. These were the creation of Chef Andrew Cotton (Merchantman Fresh Seafood and Oyster Bar).

Kabobs
Veggie Kabobs
Kabobs
Veggie Kabobs in a Smoky Gahan Iron Bridge Brown Ale BBQ Sauce

Station #8 – Freshly Shucked PEI Oysters

Sous Chef Alexandre Jolin (The Barrington Steakhouse and Oyster Bar) ensured lots of PEI oysters were shucked and ready for patrons.

Oyster Shucking
Shucking the PEI Oysters
Oysters
Raw PEI Oysters Ready for Slurping!

Station # 9 – S’Mores Dessert Bar

This bar was set up so patrons could toast their own marshmallows to make S’Mores.

S'Mores Dessert Bar
S’Mores Dessert Bar

This was a lively and interactive event and the brewery was an ideal location for this casual barbeque. It was great to see so many local Island chefs featured. We have a lot of great things happening on the food scene on PEI and the barbeque offered the opportunity to sample many of them.

Follow these links for stories I have written on other PEI Fall Flavors Culinary Events:

PEI Shellfish Festival (2012)
Farm Day in the City (2012)
Savour Victoria (2012)
Toes, Taps, and Taters (2013)
Lobster Party on the Beach (2013)
Applelicious (2013)
The Great Island Grilled Cheese Challenge (2013)
Feast of the Fathers (2014)
Lamb Luau at Crowbush Cove (2014)
Feast and Frolic Dinner (PEI Int’l Shellfish Festival) (2014)
Beef and Blues (2014)
A Taste of New Glasgow (2015)
Beef ‘n Blues (2015)
Chef on Board (2015)
Cooking with Chefs Anna & Michael Olson in Brudenell, PEI (2015)
Le Festin acadien avec homard/Acadian Feast with Lobster (2016)

Pin Me to Pinterest!

Barbeque
PEI’s Great Big Barbeque

PEI Fall Flavors Event: Le Festin acadien avec homard

September heralds the beginning of the annual PEI Fall Flavors Culinary Festival and what better way to start it off than with a feast featuring lobster and Acadian fare!  Le Festin acadien avec homard  event was held on September 2, 2016, in conjunction with the annual Evangeline Area Agricultural Exhibition and Acadian Festival in Abram-Village in the western part of Prince Edward Island.

The PEI Fall Flavors Culinary Festival features signature events hosted by celebrity chefs and the main events feature one or more of the Island’s locally-produced foods.  If you follow the links at the bottom of this posting, you will find stories and photos from past events that featured Island beef, lamb, lobster, potatoes, etc. I especially like the events that feature both regional fare and entertainment and “Le Festin acadien avec homard” scored high on both counts.  For visitors to PEI (and many do come in September especially for the Fall Flavors Culinary Festival), it’s an opportunity to learn about local culture and sample locally-produced foods.

PEI’s Acadian population in Abram-Village sure knows how to throw a good party with great food and lively entertainment.  A quartet of talented local musicians comprised of Louise Arsenault (fiddle), Hélène Bergeron (keyboard/guitar/stepdancer), Caroline Bernard (singer/keyboard/guitar), and Rémi Arsenault (bass) provided toe-tapping Acadian music throughout the evening.

PEI Musicians Performing at Le Festin acadien avec homard event, Abram-Village, PEI, 2016
Musicians Performing at “Le Festin acadien avec homard” Fall Flavors event, Abram-Village, PEI, 2016

The event was hosted by celebrity chef, Anna Olson, who is no stranger to the PEI Fall Flavors Culinary Festival as she and her husband, Michael, return to the Island annually to participate in the culinary events.

Chef Anna Olson
Chef Anna Olson at “Le Festin acadien avec homard” Fall Flavors Event, Abram-Village, PEI, 2016

Anna hosts three cooking programs on Food Network Canada:  “Bake with Anna Olson“, “Fresh with Anna Olson“, and “Sugar“. Ever the good sport, Anna was put through her paces before MC Georges Arsenault declared she had passed the test to be made an honorary Acadian.  She learned some French and she was taught some stepdancing moves!

Chef Anna Olson
Chef Anna Olson

Here was the menu for the dinner:

Menu for 2016 Le Festin acadien avec homard
Menu for 2016 Le Festin acadien avec homard

Upon arrival in the dining hall, guests were greeted with a complimentary glass of Benjamin Bridge’s Nova 7 wine.

Benjamin-Bridge Wine
Benjamin Bridge Wine

Benjamin Bridge Winery from Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia, was this year’s Festival Wine Sponsor as it was in 2015 when I discovered their delightful Nova 7 wine. The Nova 7 is a beautiful light-bodied  effervescent wine with a gorgeous pinkish color, and appealing aromatics with lovely floral and fruit notes. It’s a great wine for sipping or for pairing with a wide range of foods from seafood to spicy foods to desserts. It made a fine accompaniment to the foods served at this dinner.

Benjamin Bridge Wine
Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 Wine

Fresh steamed mussels were served as hors d’oeuvres. According to the Mussel Industry Council of PEI, the Island produces about 45 million pounds of mussels each year. This translates into approximately 80% of the entire mussel production in  Canada. In fact, fresh PEI mussels are shipped to the USA and as far away as Hong Kong, Japan, and Kuwait. It’s very common at PEI gatherings to serve steamed mussels.

PEI Mussels
Steamed PEI Mussels

The dinner was held in a large community hall and served, family style, at long tables.

PEI Fall Flavors Culinary Festival event
“Le Festin acadien avec homard” PEI Fall Flavors Culinary Festival event 2016 in Abram-Vilage, PEI

Servers, in traditional Acadian attire, brought the prepared dishes to each table.

PEI Fall Flavors Culinary Festival
“Le Festin acadien avec homard” PEI Fall Flavors Culinary Festival Event, Abram-Village, PEI, 2016

Guests then passed the dishes, from one to another, around the table, serving themselves.

Lobster Dinner
Serving lobster at “Le Festin acadien avec homard” in Abram-Village, PEI

The four-course dinner began with a bowl of Chicken Fricot, also known as chicken soup. This is a very popular Acadian dish.

Chicken Soup
Chicken Fricot, a popular Acadian soup

The Fricot contains very few ingredients and I believe it is the summer savory that gives this brothy soup its wonderful tasty flavor.  Made only with chicken, onion, potatoes, water, summer savory, salt, and pepper, it’s hard to believe just how tasty this soup really is! It was especially good with the French biscuits that were in baskets on the tables! French biscuits (Galettes blanches) are a cross between a yeast roll and a traditional tea biscuit.

Biscuits
French Biscuits

The second course consisted of two long-time Acadian favorites: Râpure and Acadian Meat Pie.

Acadian Meat Pie and Râpure
Acadian Meat Pie (left) and Râpure (right)

Both are made with simple easy-to-come-by ingredients.  The Râpure is made with pork and/or chicken, onions, potatoes (both mashed and raw grated), eggs, summer savory, coriander, salt and pepper.  The ingredients are mixed together, placed in a greased baking dish and baked in the oven.

Traditionally,  Acadian meat pie was made with pork. Today, however, it is common to have a mixture of meats in the pie – pork, beef, chicken, and/or hare, for example. Again, the ingredients for the pie filling are very basic – the meat, onion, summer savory, cloves, salt and pepper, and some flour for thickening.  The filling is encased in pie pastry and baked in the oven. Molasses is often served with the meat pie. Meat pies are common fare for Acadians on Christmas Eve although, on PEI, the pies are commonly now eaten throughout the year as well.

The third course was Island lobster in the shell served with homemade potato salad.

Shellfish
PEI Lobster

It’s very traditional on PEI to serve potato salad with lobster and this salad was a true old-fashioned homemade PEI potato salad full of flavor.

Salad
Potato Salad

And, for dessert, fresh blueberry pie made with in-season local berries.

Pie
Blueberry Pie

This was a fantastic evening of fabulous food and lively music. I thoroughly enjoyed this event and it was an opportunity for me to try some Acadian foods I had not had before.

Follow these links for other stories I have written on previous Fall Flavors Culinary Festival events:

PEI Shellfish Festival (2012)
Farm Day in the City (2012)
Savour Victoria (2012)
Toes, Taps, and Taters (2013)
Lobster Party on the Beach (2013)
Applelicious (2013)
The Great Island Grilled Cheese Challenge (2013)
Feast of the Fathers (2014)
Lamb Luau at Crowbush Cove (2014)
Feast and Frolic Dinner (PEI Int’l Shellfish Festival) (2014)
Beef and Blues (2014)
A Taste of New Glasgow (2015)
Beef ‘n Blues (2015)
Chef on Board (2015)
Cooking with Chefs Anna & Michael Olson in Brudenell, PEI (2015)

Pin Me to Pinterest!

Lobster
PEI Lobster served at “Le Festin acadien avec homard” PEI Fall Flavors Culinary Festival

Thanksgiving Tablescape

Autumn Tablescape
Thanksgiving Tablesetting

Thanksgiving brings wonderful opportunities for a variety of tablesettings.  The rich colors of autumn provide an endless supply of inspiration for decorating the table. In this tablescape (which does not have to be reserved solely for the Thanksgiving holiday), I am using Victorian English Pottery “Pheasant Woodland” dinnerware that has a distinctive fall theme. It’s one that can be used throughout the entire autumn season.

Fall Dinnerware
Victorian English Pottery Dinnerware

Like a lot of English transferware, this pattern tells a story and has earthy colors; however, I also recognize that it is a busy pattern.  In order for the dinnerware to stand out on the table, it benefits from the use of solid-colored charger plates to frame and “ground” each place setting.  Busy-patterned dinnerware also looks best on solid-colored placemats or tablecloth. When I am using this type of dinnerware, I want it to stand out on the table so I ensure that other elements on the table, including the table covering, don’t compete with it for attention.

To add a punch of color, I have used my plaid napkins encased in natural-toned napkin rings. The orange in the napkins ties in with the shades on the pheasants in the dinnerware pattern. Placing the napkin on the side of the plate (as opposed to across the top of the bowl) allows the dinnerware pattern to be displayed for maximum impact.

Again, because the pattern of the dinnerware is quite busy, I have kept the centerpiece relatively simple – a traditional-styled fall-themed arrangement in the centre flanked by two pillar candles on glass candlesticks. The use of the glass candlesticks keeps the focus on the centerpiece.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece
Thanksgiving Centerpiece

The colors in the centerpiece correspond to the color scheme of the dinnerware. With this classic style of tablesetting, it is important to maintain the colors of the dinnerware in other elements of the table – for example, the centerpiece, candles, napkins, and charger plates.

The leaf-etched neutral-colored candles blend with the color of the centerpiece urn and the background in the dinnerware.

The candles and their placement add symmetry to a classic tabletop centerpiece. So, only three items in the centerpiece – two candles and the floral centerpiece – to keep it clutter-free.  This is particularly important if the table is not large. I wanted to see some clean white space on the table.

In keeping with the style of this dinnerware, I have used some of my vintage glassware which also blends with the candlesticks. Clear glassware adds life and sparkle to a tablesetting and also gives it an airy look and feel.

I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse of my Thanksgiving tablesetting.

Pin Me to Pinterest!

Victorian English Pottery Pheasant Woodland Dinnerware
Thanksgiving Tablesetting

To view the Bistro’s other Thanksgiving tablesettings, follow these links:

Thanksgiving Tablesetting

Happy Thanksgiving!