Category Archives: Out and About

PEI Foods Featured in President’s Choice “#EatTogether” Campaign for Canada 150

There are basically two common, non-controversial, safe topics that can form the basis of a conversation start with just about anyone – the weather and food! And, food is the one that will bring people together!

On Saturday, May 6, 2017, the Atlantic Superstore in Summerside, PEI, was the venue for a luncheon where 32 people sat down to lunch together. Most did not know each other and had not met before Saturday. They happened to show up at the supermarket on a Saturday morning and found themselves invited to dine at a pop-up luncheon in the midst of the produce section.

"Eat Together"
“Eat Together” Event at Atlantic Superstore in Summerside, PEI

You see, Loblaws has this cool Canada 150 project underway to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.  Six of their supermarkets across Canada have been selected to host one of these special events that features the local foods of the region in which the event is held. The locations for the cross-country tour celebrating Canada’s regional cuisines are Ottawa, Calgary, Richmond, Summerside, Wolfville, and Montreal. Summerside was the fourth stop on the tour. Known as the #EatTogether campaign, the overarching theme is to get Canadians to come together, sit down over a meal, engage in conversation, and share stories about their favorite dishes and local cuisine. Talking about PEI foods is never a problem for Islanders because we love our foods and love to talk about them! Fishing and agriculture are two of our primary industries on the Island and both generate drool-worthy foods!

Tracy Moore and Chef Tom Filippou
Cityline Show Host Tracy Moore and PC Executive Chef Tom Filippou at “Eat Together” Event at Atlantic Superstore, Summerside, PEI

President’s Choice (PC) Executive Chef, Tom Filippou, and Cityline show host, Tracy Moore, presented a PEI-themed meal. For readers who are Islanders and those who have visited PEI, you’ll know that PEI food culture revolves around the land and sea.  The Island is known for great food – think potatoes, mussels, and lobsters. I asked Chef Filippou what inspired the dishes they chose to feature for the PEI-themed meal. He said that President’s Choice surveyed Canadians about what foods resonated with them and, when it came to PEI, our potatoes, lobsters, and mussels topped the list. He says those foods are amazing as they are but he put his own stamp on them by, for example, using lobster in a traditional Mac ‘n Cheese dish and cooking the pasta for it in the stock in which the lobster was steamed, thus deepening the lobster flavor in the dish. He says Summerside was a good choice as one of the six venues because the Island has such a rich history of seafood and agriculture and has so much to offer (for a menu that is regionally inspired).

Lobster Mac 'n Cheese
Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese, “Eat Together” Event at Atlantic Superstore in Summerside, PEI

The meal started with big bowls of mussels steamed in local PEI beer, followed by breaded chicken cutlets, potato salad, garlic bread, and the lobster Mac ‘n Cheese.

Chicken
Breaded Chicken Cutlets

This rustic potato salad made with mini potatoes was amazing!

Potatoes
Potato Salad

For dessert, diners enjoyed yummy sticky date pudding with toffee sauce along with butter tarts.

Pudding
Sticky Date Pudding
Chef Tom Filippou
PC Executive Chef Tom Filippou at Eat Together Event at Atlantic Superstore in Summerside, PEI

Asked what inspired the idea for the #EatTogether campaign, Chef Filippou says that food brings people together so the idea of a pop-up dinner party in the middle of a supermarket seemed like a great idea. People lead busy lives and many seem to spend a lot of time on their electronic devices and less time connecting with, and getting to know, each other so the aim is to get people to slow down a bit, take a deep breath, sit down at a table together, and enjoy good food and each other’s company.  What better way to set the example than on a busy Saturday morning with shoppers hurrying about to pick up groceries. Imagine whirling in with a grocery cart and the first thing you come across is a beautifully set long table alongside the produce section! I have to say it was a very impressive sight, especially from the vantage point of the store’s upper level.

Loblaws
Atlantic Superstore, Summerside, PEI

The photo below shows the area of the store where the celebrity meet and greet was held.  Have to love that backdrop of bags of PEI potatoes!

Summer Display at Summerside's Atlantic Superstore
Atlantic Superstore, Summerside, PEI

People live busy fast-paced lives with family members hurrying off to activities in different directions and many live and breathe being connected to their phones and computers/electronic devices. It seems, in many homes, the routine of regular family meal times  where family members all sit down together over a prepared meal, decompress, and discuss the happenings of their day and, well, just get to know one another, may be going by the wayside.  President’s Choice did some research on this topic and learned that only 38% of Canadians eat dinner together 4-6 times a week. 45% watch TV while eating, 15% listen to the radio, and 14% are on the Internet.

So, for the 32 people who dined at the communal table in the produce section of the Summerside Atlantic Superstore on a Saturday morning, it didn’t take long for them to connect with their fellow diners and for the storytelling to begin.  Food arrived on the table and conversations soon turned to food-related subjects and stories about the foods in their kitchens and what food means to special events like birthdays and holidays throughout the year.

Cityline Host Tracy Moore
Cityline Host Tracy Moore (right) shares a laugh with a diner at the Eat Together Event at the Atlantic Superstore in Summerside, PEI

Once the initial photos of the two celebrity hosts were taken, the electronic devices actually disappeared and, dare I say it – wait for it….. were actually forgotten about and strangers simply talked with each other over a tasty meal. Tracy Moore and Chef Tom Filippou proved to be entertaining and  engaging hosts and people easily opened up to them talking about their own culinary influences.

Tom Filippou and Tracy Moore
PC Executive Chef Tom Filippou and Cityline Show Host, Tracy Moore

This was a well executed event and a tip of the hat is due to the PC culinary team that pulled this event together to showcase PEI foods. Well done! To check out the PC #EatTogether video, click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDuA9OPyp6I

Disclosure:  I was invited to attend this event so that I could share my experience with my blog readers. My opinions and impressions of it are my own.

#EatTogether

Setting Day on Prince Edward Island Can Only Mean One Thing

Setting Day
Setting Day, French River, PEI

Setting Day on Prince Edward Island can only mean one thing…..it heralds the opening of the spring lobster fishery and a fresh feed of PEI lobster from the cold Atlantic waters will follow soon after!

Lobster
Lobster in the Shell

 

lobster traps
Lobster Traps at French River, South Landing Wharf, PEI, Canada

Lobster fishers spend many weeks in advance of Setting Day preparing their lobster traps and fishing boats for the upcoming season.

Malpeque Harbour, PEI
Lobster Boats at Malpeque Harbour, PEI, Canada

As the time grows closer to Setting Day, visits to Island wharves are an interesting activity.  Boats, looking all spiffy, are in the water, and wharves are stacked high with traps just waiting to become the deep sea inns for lobster. This year, I visited six Island wharves in the two days leading up to Setting Day.

Lobster Fishing Boats at Malpeque Harbour, PEI, Canada
Lobster Fishing Boats at Malpeque Harbour, PEI, Canada

I like to visit wharves the eve of Setting Day. The boats are heavy laden with traps, fishers are checking and double-checking their gear, and the conversations are animated with excitement and anticipation of the upcoming lobster season.  There will be claims as to who owns the fastest boat, who will sail out first, and so on. The mood is jovial and a lot of good-natured banter can be heard.

Lobster Fishing
Lobster Boats Loaded with Traps for Setting Day, North Rustico, PEI, Canada

 

Lobster Traps
Fishermen at Malpeque Harbour Check Their Lobster Traps in Preparation for Setting Day
Lobster Traps
Double-checking the Lobster Traps, Malpeque Harbour, PEI

I’m not sure I could figure out the ropes of this business but they sure are colorful!

Ropes
Colorful Ropes

So, too, are the many different colors of buoys.

Buoys
Colorful Buoys
Lobster Traps
Traditional Lobster Traps

PEI has two lobster seasons. The first runs from May until the end of June and the second from August until October.  Some claim (and I agree) that the lobster that is caught in the early season is the most tasty and tender as it comes from the colder waters.

Lobster Boats
Lobster Boats, New London Harbour, PEI, Canada

On PEI, the spring fishery tends to get the most attention because these are the boats that are first out of the gate to open the fishery season. There is a lot of hype associated with Setting Day.

Lobster Fishing
Boats Loaded with Lobster Traps for Setting Day, North Rustico, PEI, Canada

North Rustico is one of the more colorful fishing ports and draws a lot of summer tourists who enjoy watching the activity of the fishing boats.

Preparing for Setting Day
Eve of Setting Day in the Fishing Village of North Rustico, PEI, Canada

Regardless whether one is directly involved in the fishery or not, Setting Day is a big deal for many Islanders. This is the day that fishers head out with their boats for the first time in the season to lay the traps to catch the lobsters.

Lobster Boat Loaded with Traps
Trap Setting Day

There are many wharves around the Island and the same common scene plays out – friends, neighbours, and family members get up long before daybreak and head to nearby wharves or beaches to watch the parade of boats as they head out with their loads of traps. It’s a sign of support to the fishers for the work they do.

Waiting for the Lobster Boats
Waiting for the Parade of Lobster Boats on Setting Day in French River, PEI, Canada

The last couple of years, I have headed to French River which is about 45 minutes from Charlottetown.  Boats are not permitted to leave the harbour until 6:00am but spectators need to be in place by about 5:40am as boats pull away from the wharves and get in to position for take-off and they lose no time when the clock strikes 6:00am. As one fisherman told me, come 6:00am, it’s “game on” and it’s very competitive as the boats charge out to sea to the cheers and delight of the bystanders! If you have never stood on a beach on PEI at sunrise and watched dozens of lobster boats heading out to work, you have missed a magical and moving experience.

Parade of Lobster Boats
Early Morning Gathering in French River, PEI, to Watch Parade of Lobster Boats on Setting Day

In 2017, when this article is being written, Setting Day was on Saturday, April 29th. Island lobster fishers don’t fish on Sundays so the first haul from the traps will be on Monday. With the exception of Sundays, fishers check their traps daily during lobster season.  Close to 1000 boats were expected to leave the wharves on Setting Day this year.

Parade of Lobster Boats Heading out to Sea
Heading out to Drop off the Lobster Traps on Setting Day
Lobster Fishing Boats
Heading Out With a Load of Lobster Traps, French River, PEI

A few years ago, I happened to be in North Lake, in the Islander’s eastern part of the province, mid-morning, as the lobster boats were coming back in with their daily catch. It’s a beehive of activity when they all arrive back in port with crates full of lobster!

Lobster Boat
Lobster Boat Loaded with the Day’s Catch, North Lake, PEI, Canada

North Lake is a large harbour and it’s really cool to watch the boats enter the port through this narrow entrance. Sometimes, it’s almost a traffic jam on the “North Lake Freeway” as the boats converge to come into the wharf with their catch.

Lobster Boat
Lobster Boat Arriving Back in Port with the Day’s Catch, North Lake, PEI, Canada

Heading for a “parking spot” to unload the catch.

Fishing Harbour
North Lake Harbour, PEI, Canada

Unloading the day’s catch.

Daily Catch
Unloading the Day’s Catch, North Lake, PEI, Canada

Here’s a look at what’s in those crates!

PEI Lobsters
Fresh Catch of the Day – PEI Lobsters

While there are many recipes that call for lobster as an ingredient, Islanders typically eat the steamed lobster straight from the shell for their first feed of the season.

Fresh PEI Lobster
Steamed Lobster in the Shell
Steamed Lobster
Lobster in the Shell
How to Eat Lobster, PEI Style
Cracking Open the Lobster

Served hot or cold, according to one’s preference, lobster is a divine treat when dipped in melted butter.  On PEI, lobster is most commonly served with potato salad, coleslaw, sometimes other kinds of salads and, of course, homemade rolls.

Potato Salad
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s PEI Potato Salad

You can find my recipe for potato salad here and for my pan rolls here.

Lobster Dinner
Traditional PEI Lobster Dinner

Once I have had that first feed of lobster, I am ready to use it as an ingredient in other dishes. One of my more popular recipes is the one for Lobster Cakes. You can access my recipe for these tasty savory cakes here.

Lobster Cakes
PEI Lobster Cakes

Another favorite recipe for using lobster is Lobster Newburg. It is lovely served in puff pastry shells.  And, of course, there is always the perennial favorite – Lobster Rolls! A couple of great places to get lobster rolls on PEI are Richard’s Seafood Eatery on the wharf in Covehead and at Dave’s Lobster in Charlottetown.

And the great lobster that we enjoy comes thanks to the fishers who head out, sometimes in rolling seas, to fish the lobster.

Lobster Fishing
Lobster Fishing in all weather on PEI

And, other times, the fishers get to see the most amazing sunrises!

Setting Day
Heading Out With a Load of Lobster Traps

Lobster fishing is a big part of the Island culture and way of life. The seafood sector is one of PEI’s main industries. PEI has some very picturesque harbours and wharves like French River seen in the photograph below. It is so popular with photographers that a lookout has been created so that people can safely pull off the road to photograph its beauty.

PEI Fishing Harbour
French River, PEI

As I finish this posting, the first catches of the season are in…..now, where is that lobster bib…….

Lobster Supper
A PEI Lobster Feed

Setting Day marks the beginning of the PEI lobster fishing season as fishers set their lobster traps in the water

Lobster Trap Setting Day on Prince Edward Island

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)

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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)

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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)

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

Picnic by the Confederation Bridge in PEI

A PEI Picnic
Picnic by the Confederation Bridge

Picnics are a favorite summertime activity for us. We like to do a lot of daytripping around our province discovering and revisiting all that our wonderful Island has to offer.  Prince Edward Island has many great locations that are suitable for picnics.  Our picnic last weekend took us to a scenic location near the Confederation Bridge in Borden-Carleton.

Bridge between PEI and New Brunswick
Confederation Bridge

This bridge transcends the Northumberland Strait linking PEI with New Brunswick. At 12.9km (8 miles) in length, the bridge is the longest bridge in the world that crosses ice-covered water. Our Island winters can be quite harsh and the Strait is covered in thick ice for several months of the year. Building a bridge to withstand these conditions was no easy feat.

Before the bridge opened to traffic on May 31, 1997, the only ways on and off PEI were by ferry or air.  Ferry service does still operate seasonally in the Eastern part of the Province at Wood Islands where ferries transport vehicular traffic between PEI and Nova Scotia.

The Confederation Bridge curves partway across the Strait and has a high navigational span that allows large ships to pass under the bridge.  It’s pretty cool to see the large cruise ships going under the bridge!

Because the Confederation Bridge is an iconic element of PEI, it makes a fitting backdrop for a summertime Island picnic.

Summer Picnic in PEI
Bridge View

So, now that the stage has been set for the location, back to the picnic……I have chosen to go with a black and white theme and I’m a big fan of checkered fabric – checks just seem to speak of picnics. I have chosen to use my plain black dinner napkins and have wrapped the cutlery inside the napkins. This is easy to do before leaving home and it keeps the items together.  To give the classy black napkins a more casual look for a picnic, I have tied each napkin with narrow twine.

To add a punch of color to the table, I selected small bright yellow sunflowers paired with Bells of Ireland.  Whether I am setting the table for an event at home or on the road, I like to see a well set table! These flowers were locally grown at Island Meadow Farm in York, PEI.  They grow the most amazing array of flowers and I like to use them in my summer tablesettings.

Summer Flowers
Sunflowers and Bells of Ireland

Picnics are meant to be casual fare so, while I always try to have a main, a side, some fruit, something sweet, and a beverage, I often like to include some finger/snacking foods as I have done today.  Let’s start with the PEI mussels in the shell. These are steamed mussels to which I have added some red and orange pepper, celery, and red onion. A light dressing of a red wine vinaigrette makes these tasty little morsels.

Mussels
PEI Mussels

Cold cuts, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber are always good nibbling foods (and they add great color to the table).

Cold Cut Tray
The Nibbling Tray

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I wrapped peach wedges inside basil leaves and prosciutto (seen in the photo below). These little picnic hors d’oeuvres add color, texture, and flavor to the menu. They go particularly well with Gouda cheese.

Picnic Hors d'oeuvres
Peaches in Prosciutto

I have chosen small tomato quiches for the main in today’s picnic. The great thing about quiches is that they can be served, hot, warm, or cold and, when cold, are great travelers for the picnic basket.

Quiche
Tomato Quiche

And, for a side, I opted for a quinoa salad with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. To the quinoa I added peppers, corn, celery, red onion, and kale from our garden. Packing the salad into small Mason jars is an easy way to transport salads on a picnic.

Salad in a Mason Jar
Quinoa Salad

Plates are not always necessary for picnics.  Here, I have used small breadboards which work equally well and they are easy to pack.

Picnic
The Picnic Lunch

I popped by the Tryon Blueberries U-Pick in North Tryon on my way and picked a box of these amazing high-bush blueberries.  I live on these berries when they are in season on the Island!

Summer Berries
PEI Blueberries

And, for the sweet tooth, I took along some of my homemade snickerdoodle cookies.

Cookies
Snickerdoodle Cookies

And, as an extra special treat, we enjoyed Belgian chocolates that we brought home from a wonderful visit to Brugge, Belgium. If you ever have the chance to visit Brugge, I highly recommend it. You can view photos of my visit to Brugge over on my travel blog, Island Shore Traveler, by clicking here.

Chocolates
Belgian Chocolates

I like to choose foods and elements to the picnic that are colorful and that blend well together.

Picnic Time
A PEI Summer Picnic

I hope you have enjoyed a little “taste” of my picnic by the bridge.

PEI Picnic
Picnic by the Bridge

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PEI Picnic
Picnic by the Confederation Bridge, PEI

Locovore’s Picnic – Food Day Canada 2016

Summer Picnic
Picnic at Fort Amherst, PEI

As I write this post on July 30th, I am celebrating Food Day Canada with a picnic featuring local Prince Edward Island food products.  Food Day Canada is a day set aside to celebrate all the wonderful foods that we, as Canadians, enjoy.

For today’s picnic location, I have chosen the iconic Fort Amherst site, just across the harbour from Charlottetown. The building in the background of the photo above is known as the Blockhouse Point Lighthouse. The beacon for sailors was established in 1851 and is the second oldest lighthouse on the Island. Automated in 1962, no one lives in the lighthouse anymore but it was built with a two-story dwelling attached for the lighthouse keeper and his family.

We like to travel the Island in the summer and often pack a picnic lunch.

Picnic
Picnic Lunch

I like to sometimes pack individual picnic boxes or baskets, as I have done today.  Each basket is like a personalized gift and it’s great fun to see picnic guests unpacking their baskets and discovering what surprises await them. It’s also a great way to customize the baskets to accommodate those with special dietary needs and food preferences since their lunch basket can be prepared especially for them. Nothing makes a guest feel more special than when the host/hostess plans and prepares for their special food needs!

The only downside to this style of picnic is that the baskets are obviously not insulated so, for travel purposes, I recommend they be transported inside a large insulated cooler with ice packs.

I have named this picnic the Locovore’s Picnic since I have selected Island products for the basket contents. Here’s the menu:

Locovore’s Picnic

Main

Sandwich – Larkin’s smoked chicken breast with Schurman Family Farm organic tomatoes and lettuce from the garden all on bread from Mary’s Bake Shoppe

Side

Tossed green salad with lettuce freshly picked from our garden and peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes from Schurman Family Farm

Beverage

Homemade Rhubarb Cordial

Sweet Ending

Anne of Green Gables Island-made chocolate

Here’s a closer peek into the lunch baskets, each of which is lined with a white cloth napkin.  I had just poured the lemon-lime soda into the rhubarb cordial (recipe here) before this photo was taken so it is still quite fizzy!

Picnic Basket Lunches
Individual Picnic Baskets

And, here’s a closer look….

Chicken Sandwich
Smoked Chicken Sandwich

I love packing the salads in these little glass jars. I have separate small containers for the vinaigrette which, of course, should only be added to the salad at the time of serving.

Salad
Salad in a Jar

Choosing a good quality bread will help the sandwich to hold together, especially if adding a number of ingredients as I have done here. Mary’s Bake Shoppe in Kensington, just outside Summerside, makes great bread and a number of different kinds. The one in the photograph below is oatbran bread, one of my all-time favorites.

Picnic Sandwich
Smoked Chicken Sandwich

I wrapped each sandwich in parchment paper secured with twine. This helps to keep it intact.

Sandwich Basket
Sandwich Basket Contents

I have used a turquoise color theme for today’s picnic – it has a real summery feel to it!

Color-themed Picnic
Turquoise Summer Time Picnic

The flowers were picked from our own garden. It’s the little touches that make the event more special!

Summer Bouquet
Summer Flower Picnic Bouquet

Time to stop photographing and eat lunch!

Picnic Lunch
Let’s Eat Lunch!

Curious to know what’s in that tiny white box with the pretty turquoise ribbon?

Chocolates
Anne of Green Gables Chocolates

These chocolates are hand-made right here on Prince Edward Island and they are quite divine!

Anne of Green Gables Chocolates
Handmade PEI Chocolates

So, there you have it! This is how I spent Food Day Canada 2016!

Picnic
The Locovore’s Picnic Basket

Great food with a lovely view! A perfect PEI summer day!

Prince Edward Island Picnic
Picnic at Fort Amherst PEI

Thanks for coming along on my picnic this afternoon!

PEI Picnic
Picnic at PEI’s Fort Amherst