Tag Archives: Chef Anna Olson

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

Cooking with Chefs Anna & Michael Olson in Brudenell, PEI

The PEI Fall Flavours Culinary Festival introduced a new culinary event in 2015. While still classed as a “signature” event, the “Cooking with Chefs Anna and Michael Olson”, was a small, intimate, casual gathering of about 50 people on a sunny Sunday afternoon at the Rodd Brudenell River Resort in Prince Edward Island. The Olsons’ relaxed and authentic style along with their sense of humour made for a lovely and informative afternoon.

Chefs Anna & Michael Olson Cooking Demonstration, PEI Fall Flavours Culinary Festival 2015
Chefs Anna & Michael Olson Cooking Demonstration, PEI Fall Flavours Culinary Festival 2015

The afternoon started out with a tutoring session on beer and cheese pairing (plus one wine and cheese pairing).

Locally-brewed beers from PEI breweries were used to pair against locally-made cheeses (with the exception of the Brie cheese which came from New Brunswick because there is no Brie currently made on PEI).

The cheeses were from Glasgow Glen Farm in New Glasgow and COWS Creamery in North River on the outskirts of Charlottetown.

By way of example, some of the Chefs’ pairing suggestions included: Aged Gouda from Glasgow Glen Farm and COWS Creamery Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar pair well with the PEI Brewing Company’s “Island Red” ale. COWS Creamery Appletree Smoked Cheddar teams well with the PEI Brewing Company’s “Sydney Street Stout”.

The Olsons also suggested some food pairings with the beer.  They suggest Upstreet Craft Brewing’s “Rhuby Social Strawberry Rhubarb Witbier”  pairs well with seafood – in particular, mussels, clams, and white fish. “Island Red” ale  compliments roasts, ribs, and barbequed foods.  Chef Michael referred to the “Sydney Street Stout” as the “red wine of beers” so suggested it could be paired with a wide variety of foods including oysters, roast beef, rich cheeses, and desserts. In particular, he says that onions and stout are a great combination to make a rich sauce for meat.

The Olsons offered a cheese and wine pairing suggestion using wine from Benjamin Bridge Vineyards in Nova Scotia which was this year’s wine sponsor for the Culinary Festival. They suggest that the “Nova 7” wine, that has a hint of sweetness, pairs particularly well with double cream Brie.

The second half of the afternoon was devoted to a cooking demonstration.  Three dishes were prepared: PEI Mussels steamed in Ale with Mustard; Apple and Cheese Scones, and Schnitzel Sliders.  As they demonstrated the food preparation, Chefs Anna and Michael offered cooking and baking tips.

DSCN1480

Chef Anna Olson Demonstrating How to Make Scones
Chef Anna Olson Demonstrating How to Make Scones
Anna's Apple and Cheese Scones
Anna’s Apple and Cheese Scones
PEI Mussels Steamed in Beer
PEI Mussels Steamed in Beer
Schnitzel Sliders
Schnitzel Sliders

And, yes, we did get to sample the food, too!

The event was also a good occasion to purchase cookbooks authored by Chefs Anna and Michael Olson and have them autographed.

I liked this culinary event because it was casual and interactive with the chefs and it was educational. As a foodie, I am always looking for new and different ways to prepare local foods so including this type of event into a culinary festival is very appealing to me. I hope more of this type of event is included in the future.

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 PEI Fall Flavours Culinary Events I have attended, click on 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 Int’l Shellfish Festival) (2014)
Beef and Blues (2014)
A Taste of New Glasgow (2015)
Beef ‘n Blues (2015)
Chef on Board (2015)

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"Beer and Cheese Pairing"
“Beer and Cheese Pairing”

“Chef on Board” – A Divinely Decadent PEI Fall Flavours Signature Event

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.

MV Confederation
MV Confederation

Greeting guests on the pier as they arrived for dinner were celebrity chef hosts, Anna and Michael Olson.

Chefs Anna and Michael Olsen
Chefs 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.

Chef Anna Olson giving a few hints of the evening's fare
Chef Anna Olson giving a few hints of the evening’s fare

Upon entering the ship, the lively strains of the musical talents of Mark Haines and Brad Fremlin greeted guests.

Mark Haines (violin) and Brad Fremlin (keyboard)
Mark Haines (violin) and Brad Fremlin (keyboard)

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.

Brendan MacNeill, Benjamin Bridge Winery

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!

PEI Oysters
PEI Oysters

Lovers of PEI mussels were in for a real treat with these “mussel shooters” which were marinated mussels served with crispy potato bits.

"Mussel Shooters"
“Mussel Shooters”

These delicate smoked salmon crepe mini tortes melted in the mouth!

Smoked Salmon Crepe Mini Tortes
Smoked Salmon Crepe Mini Tortes

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.

Mark Haines
Mark Haines
Brad Fremlin
Brad Fremlin

As guests sampled the hors d’oeuvres, the mv Confederation left on a short sail of the Northumberland Strait, past iconic lighthouses.

Wood Islands, PEI Lighthouses
Wood Islands, PEI 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.

Irish Mythen
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:

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)

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Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today.  If you enjoyed this posting, please share it on your social media websites.

Connect with “the Bistro” through the following social media:

Join My Island Bistro Kitchen on Facebook

Follow “the Bistro’s” tweets on Twitter

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Fall Flavours Festival – A Month-long Feast of Fine PEI Flavours

When I travel, I am often asked “when is the best time to visit Prince Edward Island?”  Being an Islander who loves her home province, I admit to being somewhat biased (okay, ALOT biased) because anytime, in my opinion is a good time to be in PEI.  However, if you are a foodie, then September on PEI is the special month for you! That’s when the bountiful diverse harvest from our land and sea come together for the month-long annual Fall Flavours Festival with dozens of food-related events, big and small, across this beautiful Island.  This year’s Festival runs from September 5th -28th and it is chock-a-block full of food events and activities.

The Fall Flavours Festival began in 2008 as a 10-day project of the former Tourism Charlottetown group. According to Tracey Singleton, who was the Director of Marketing for Tourism Charlottetown at the time, the project had two objectives: 1) Capitalize on the growing trend of culinary tourism, and 2) extend the fall tourism season on PEI. Originators of the Festival had a clear vision for Fall Flavours: To create a fall culinary product that would highlight PEI’s key exports and drive tourism while establishing PEI as a culinary destination.

Cracking open the lobsters at the Lobster Party on the Beach at Cedar Dunes Park, West Point, PEI (2013)
Cracking open the lobsters at the Lobster Party on the Beach at Cedar Dunes Park, West Point, PEI (2013)

PEI has long been known for its fine foods, chief amongst them seafood and potatoes, as well as the Island hospitality…and oh, yes, the fabulous beaches that surround our Island. So, it’s a logical fit to combine our Island foods, culture, spectacular scenery, and hospitality into a month-long celebration.  Some events, like the Lobster Party on the Beach held at Cedar Dunes Park in West Point, even include dining in a tent right on the beautiful sandy beach.

Tents on the beach at Cedar Dunes for the Lobster Party on the Beach
Tents on the beach at Cedar Dunes for the Lobster Party on the Beach

There is no doubt that Fall Flavours is a success story that has grown from a 10-day Festival to the month-long extravaganza it is today. 

Singleton says, “PEI is becoming a Mecca for culinary tourism.”

Singleton says “PEI is becoming a Mecca for culinary tourism. Our artisan producers, our chefs, the reputation and awareness of PEI mussels, oysters, lobster, and potatoes have contributed to the [Festival’s] reputation as well as the relationship with Food Network Canada and its chefs have helped build credibility [of the Festival]”.

PEI lobsters and corn on the cob being cooked in a sandpit on the beach
PEI lobsters and corn on the cob being cooked in a sandpit on the beach

When deciding what events will be part of Fall Flavours and what local foods will be profiled, organizers focus on the five key food exports of PEI – lobster, oysters, mussels, beef, and potatoes.

At Toes, Taps & Taters in O'Leary, PEI (2013)
At Toes, Taps & Taters in O’Leary, PEI (2013)

One of the biggest challenges for Fall Flavours organizers is how to keep the Festival fresh and not continually repeat the same events in the exact same way year after year with the same celebrity chefs. Some events remain so popular, however, that they do repeat yearly – for example, the Lobster Party on the Beach, Chef on Board, A Taste of the North Shore, and Toes, Taps, and Taters. To keep those events fresh, organizers change the menu, entertainment, and celebrity chef host so the event has a new look and feel each year. Chef Anna Olson, returning for her third year at the Fall Flavours Festival, enjoys the opportunity to return to PEI for the Festival each year to host different events. She says it keeps her creative, gives her the chance to connect with guests in different ways and to make connections with so many people on the Island, hear their stories and the inevitable recipe-sharing that happens, too.

Applelicious (2013)
Gourmet dining at Applelicious (2013)

New events are added annually, some are retired, and others are put on hiatus for a year or two. Some of the new events this year (2014) include Oysters on the Pier in Northport, Lamb Luau on the Beach at Crowbush, and Feast of the Fathers in Charlottetown to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference where the now famous Fathers of Confederation met to lay the groundwork for what would later become Canada. Savour Victoria is back after a year off in 2013. Look for other returning favorites such as The Great Grilled Cheese Challenge and Beef and Blues.

One of the entries in the Great Grilled Cheese Challenge (2013)
One of the entries in the Great Grilled Cheese Challenge (2013)

Organizers tell me that patrons to Fall Flavours events are about 50/50 Islanders and tourists. Tourists come for Fall Flavours events to taste great Island food, meet acclaimed celebrity chefs, and experience the Island culture and way of life. Many are repeat visitors year after year. According to Singleton whose company, Versatile Management Group Inc., is now the event organizer for the Festival, over 12,000 tickets were sold for Fall Flavours events in 2013, an increase of 16% in ticket sales from the previous year.

Chef Massimo on Stage at the Great Grilled Cheese Challenge in North River, PEI (2013)
Chef Massimo on Stage at the Great Grilled Cheese Challenge in North River, PEI (2013)

There are several different categories of events that form part of the Fall Flavours Festival – there are Signature Events, Culinary Events, Culinary Adventures, and Restaurant Dining. Each year, there are a certain number of events that are classed as “Signature Events” – in fact, this year, there are 11 of them. An event classed as “Signature” means it will feature a celebrity chef host from Food Network Canada. Many of the events are interactive with opportunities to meet and greet the celebrity chefs.

Chef Lynn Crawford autographing her cookbook at the Toes, Taps & Taters Signature Event in O'Leary, PEI (2013)
Chef Lynn Crawford autographing her cookbook at the Toes, Taps & Taters Signature Event in O’Leary, PEI (2013)

Most will also have a cooking demonstration by the celebrity chef host. If the chefs are also cookbook authors, their books will be available for sale onsite and there will be opportunities to have the books signed by the chefs. Making appearances at this year’s Fall Flavours Festival Signature Events are Food Network Canada Celebrity Chefs Lynn Crawford, Anna Olson, Corbin Torraszeski, Chuck Hughes, Michael Smith, Mark MacEwan, and Massimo Capra. It’s a star-studded line-up!

Chef Anna Olson autographing her cookbooks at the 2013 Applelicious Event in Arlington, PEI
Chef Anna Olson autographing her cookbooks at the 2013 Applelicious Event in Arlington, PEI

In addition to the Signature Events, there are a number of culinary events and culinary adventures happening across the Island in September. There is a wide range of activities to suit all tastes.

As Chef Olson says, “I think PEI has achieved the impossible: offering “something for everyone”! The range of events and locations makes this Festival a truly delicious testament to the spirit of PEI.”

As Chef Olson says, “I think PEI has achieved the impossible: offering “something for everyone”! The range of events and locations makes this Festival a truly delicious testament to the spirit of PEI.”So, look for culinary events and adventures like the Beer Festival, clam brunches, roaming feasts, harvest meals, heritage dinners, Farm Day in the City, and culinary demonstrations and cooking classes at Holland College’s Culinary Boot Camps at the Culinary Institute of Canada. As well, several of the Island’s leading restaurants will feature special fall-inspired menus in September to coincide with the Fall Flavours Festival.

Some of the entries in the seafood chowder challenge at the PEI Shellfish Festival (2012)
Some of the entries in the seafood chowder challenge at the PEI International Shellfish Festival (2012)

Ticket sales are brisk for 2014 events, says Singleton. In fact, she says sales are up 100% over the same period last year and the Festival is still one month away. So, if you are interested in taking in any of the Fall Flavours events, best not delay getting your tickets. Many of the events sell out.

Prices for the signature events range from $19.00 + HST for The Great Island Grilled Cheese Challenge to $139. + HST for the gala Feast and Frolic dinner that is part of the Shellfish Festival. Prices for the culinary events and adventures vary in price. For a complete list of Fall Flavours activities and prices, visit their website at www.fallflavours.ca

Event organizers for Fall Flavours continue to amaze me each year with their creativity and attention to detail in carrying out the events. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for patrons this year. Whatever it is, I know it will exhibit the “WOW!” factor!

Interior of the tent set up in the middle of the apple orchard in Arlington, PEI, for the Applelicious Event (2013)
Interior of the tent set up in the middle of the apple orchard in Arlington, PEI, for the Applelicious Event (2013)

Click on the links below to read stories I have written in the past about individual Fall Flavours 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)

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