Tag Archives: lobster

Cooking Classes at The Table Culinary Studio in PEI

"Bounty of the Sea" Cooking Class at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
“Bounty of the Sea” Cooking Class at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

Tucked away on the Graham’s Road (Route 8), in the picturesque rural community of New London, Prince Edward Island, you will find The Table Culinary Studio that offers short (between 3.5 and 4.5 hours) cooking classes that focus primarily on cooking with fresh, local Island foods.  This experience is a great way to learn about the Island food culture.

The Gently Rolling Hills of New London, PEI
The Gently Rolling Hills of New London, PEI

The rural setting is quintessential PEI. Fields in shades of green contrasted with the Island’s iconic red soil take visitors to the heart of some of the Island’s most fertile farm land.

Field of Potatoes in PEI's Red Soil
Field of Potatoes in PEI’s Red Soil

Just down the road is New London Harbour, home to a small lobster fishing fleet and the grounds for other seafood like oysters, quahogs, and mussels.  Not far away, quality food can be sourced from dairy and beef farms, organic farmers, beekeepers, cheesemakers, and garlic growers. Could there be a more authentic location for a PEI culinary studio!

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

While it is no secret that PEI has lovely scenery to enjoy, spectacular beaches and golf courses, and many attractions to keep visitors busy exploring our Island, many come to the Island knowing that PEI offers great food from the land and sea.

Cavendish Beach, PEI
Cavendish Beach, PEI

Our potatoes, oysters, mussels, and lobster, in particular, are shipped all over the world and these Island products are well known, respected, and sought after for their high quality.

PEI Potatoes
PEI Potatoes

So, what better way to experience the Island foods first hand than to take a short cooking class to learn more about them and how they can be prepared.

The Table Culinary Studio (formerly Annie’s Table) has been in operation since 2012, offering an array of short cooking classes on a myriad of topics.  Under new ownership in 2016, The Table, with owner/chef Derrick Hoare at the helm, continues with the tradition of engaging culinary aficionados in ways to prepare local Island foods such as lobster, oysters, mussels, scallops, beef, cheese, and so forth.  The focus is very much on using fresh local ingredients that are in season and, by extension, acquainting participants with the rich Island food culture.

The Table offers a number of hands-on cooking classes that include (at the time of writing) Bounty of the Sea, Black Gold (cured garlic), Farm to Table, Marilla’s Table, Hive to Table, Let Them Eat Beef, Oyster Obsession, Say Cheese, Vivacious Vegan, Applelicious, Artisan Bread, Gluten Free Gourmet, and Helping Hands.  The Table operates seasonally from May to October to coincide with the Island’s tourism season.  Several of the cooking classes involve field trips to farms and other local food producers to see, first-hand, how food is grown or produced and to pick up some local ingredients to bring back to The Table to be used in the class that follows.  This form of experiential tourism provides the opportunity for the learners to create wonderful memories of their vacation time in PEI, connect directly with PEI food producers, and to learn more about the Island’s food culture and the role that farming, fishing, and other food production play in the Island’s economy and way of life.

I recently participated in the “Bounty of the Sea” cooking class at The Table which is located within walking distance to the house in which famed Island authoress Lucy Maud Montgomery was born and not far by vehicle to the resort municipality of Cavendish.

Birthplace of authoress Lucy Maud Montgomery, New London, PEI
Birthplace of authoress Lucy Maud Montgomery, New London, PEI

But, before I take you on the adventure with me, here is a brief description of the venue and what a cooking class is like at The Table.

The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

What makes this culinary studio unique is its venue.  It is located in a small white repurposed country church, very typical of so many seen in several Island communities.  Inside the church, the pews have been removed and, in their place, is a large harvest table where, in a few hours time, class participants will gather to enjoy the lavish spread of the morning’s cooking. The church’s altar has been elevated to a loft setting and the building is tastefully furnished.

Students Gather at the Harvest Table Following a Cooking Class at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Students Gather at the Harvest Table Following a Cooking Class at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

The original altar and choir loft locations have been transformed into an open teaching kitchen.

The Kitchen at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
The Kitchen at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

Class size is small and intimate – only a maximum of 10 participants per cooking class.  This ensures that each person has a front row view as the culinary team teaches the cooking or baking techniques in the open-style kitchen. It also allows for participants to be actively engaged and participating in the cooking or baking activities.

The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

The culinary team consists of owner/chef Derrick Hoare, Executive Chef Michael Bradley, and Events Coordinator Christine Morgan. The atmosphere is unhurried and very sociable. Strangers become friends over the commonality of food. With a growing hunger for knowledge about where one’s food comes from and how it is grown, produced, or harvested, cooking classes appeal to most age demographics and skill levels. No need to worry if you are not an experienced or accomplished cook – the classes offer something for everyone, including a scrumptious meal after the class in the beautifully appointed old country church.

So, now on to my adventure as a participant in The Table’s “Bounty of the Sea” cooking class.  After morning coffee upon arrival, everyone got suited up with their aprons and side towels.

At The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
At The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

The class began with Chef Derrick giving a brief talk on lobster fishing on PEI, recounting his own experiences going out on a fishing boat to learn, first-hand, about lobster fishing on the Island.  Chef Michael then gave a short biology lesson on how to identify the gender of a lobster.

Executive Chef Michael Bradley at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Executive Chef Michael Bradley at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

It’s a good thing those lobsters were banded because, if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having a finger caught in the claws of one, you are likely to end up with a broken finger – they’re strong!

Lobsters
Fiesty Lobsters

Everyone was given a lobster and instructed on how to carefully de-band them before placing them in hot water to be cooked. Chef Michael explained how much salt was needed in the water to boil the lobsters and how long they needed to cook.

Cooking Lobsters at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Cooking Lobsters at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

Chef Derrick kept a watchful eye on the lobsters so they were removed from the pot at just the right time.

Derrick Hoare, Owner/Chef at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Derrick Hoare, Owner/Chef at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

Next came the lesson on how to crack open a lobster.

Cooked Lobster
Cooked Lobster

Chef Michael capably gave instructions as each student cracked open a lobster to reveal the succulent meat inside.

Meat from the Lobster
Meat from the Lobster

Yes, a basic table knife will do the trick!

Cracking Open Lobsters
Cracking Open Lobsters

Having never made homemade pasta before, I was particularly interested in the procedure.

Making Homemade Pasta at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Making Homemade Pasta at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

The Table is very accommodating to class participants who have dietary restrictions.  On this day, there were two participants who were gluten-intolerant so a separate station on an adjacent workspace was set up for them to make the gluten-free pasta and Chef Michael alternated between the two groups giving information and instruction on pasta making.

Making Gluten-Free Pasta at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Making Gluten-Free Pasta at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

Black garlic from nearby Eureka Garlic, not far from Kensington, was used in the pasta to give a unique flavour.  If you have never tasted black garlic, it’s not nearly as garlicky as you might think – I personally think it tastes like a cross between a fig and a prune.  You can check out my story here on Eureka Garlic.

Black Garlic from Eureka Garlic near Kensington, PEI
Black Garlic from Eureka Garlic near Kensington, PEI

The chopped black garlic was kneaded into the pasta dough.

Adding Black Garlic to Pasta Dough
Adding Black Garlic to Pasta Dough

The pasta dough was cut and gathered into circles ready to be dropped into the cooking pot.

Cutting the Pasta Dough
Cutting the Pasta Dough
Homemade Pasta Ready for Cooking
Homemade Pasta Ready for Cooking

With the pasta made, we took a brief break from the food prep to listen to Christine explain how mussels are grown and harvested on PEI.

Christine Morgan Explains How PEI Mussels are Grown and Harvested
Christine Morgan Explains How PEI Mussels are Grown and Harvested

PEI mussels are world famous and they are shipped all over the world.   Mussels are a common food to serve at many events, year-round, on PEI. They are easy to prepare and ever-so-tasty dipped in melted butter!

Steamed PEI Mussels at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Christine Morgan Serves Up Steamed PEI Mussels at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

Chef Michael then guided the group in making Lobster Bisque.  Once the Mirepoix started cooking, you can only imagine how tantalizing the scent was as it wafted through the old church building.

Stirring the Mirepoix for the Lobster Bisque at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Stirring the Mirepoix for the Lobster Bisque at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

Ohhhh, that lobster is going to make a dandy lunch – can’t you just taste it!

Lobster Bisque in the Making at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Lobster Bisque in the Making at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

The third seafood that we learned to cook was scallops, those tasty little morsels!

Cooking Scallops at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Cooking Scallops at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

The morning went super fast and, before we knew it, it was time for lunch to be served by the culinary team.

Chef Michael Bradley of The Table Culinary Studio Preparing the Lobster Bisque for Serving
Chef Michael Bradley of The Table Culinary Studio Preparing the Bowls of Lobster Bisque for Serving

The table was beautifully set (those of you who follow my food blog regularly know how I love well-set tables).  The napkin at each place setting had either a small lobster trap or lobster napkin ring.

Place Setting at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Place Setting at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

These napkin rings tied in well with the theme of the morning’s class – “Bounty of the Sea”.

Place Setting at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Place Setting at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

How inviting does this look! Wouldn’t you love to sit in at this table!

At The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
At The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

Fresh homemade sourdough bread was on the table.

Homemade Sourdough Bread
Homemade Sourdough Bread

The landing at the top of the spiral staircase in the church provided a great vantage point for photography.

Spiral Staircase at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Spiral Staircase at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

The group assembled at the big harvest table which is the focal point in the middle of the studio. This 12’ table was hand-crafted from old attic boards extracted from the house which The Table’s former owner restored just up the road at New London corner.

Class Lunch at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Class Lunch at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

How great does this lobster bisque look with that succulent lobster claw!  It tasted even better!

Lobster Bisque
Lobster Bisque

We were very anxious to taste the homemade pasta and it did not disappoint! The pasta in the photo below is gluten-free.

Homemade Pasta Topped with Lobster and Scallops at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Homemade Pasta Topped with Lobster and Scallops at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

This was accompanied by big bowls of PEI mussels with squeaky cheese topping melting down through the mussels.  If you are a mussel lover, these are hard to resist!

PEI Mussels with Butter at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
PEI Mussels with Butter at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

And as if we weren’t stuffed enough, out came dessert. The dessert in the photo below is a chocolate beet cake.

Chocolate Beet Cake at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Chocolate Beet Cake at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

And, for the gluten-free dessert, it was a deconstructed blueberry pie which I can attest was simply yummy!

Gluten-free Deconstructed Blueberry Pie - The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Gluten-free Deconstructed Blueberry Pie – The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

The Table is set with the right ingredients – small class size, fresh local Island foods, quality instruction, hands-on cooking, a shared meal, and a charming venue with a history of its own.  If you are looking for an authentic and affordable cooking experience to allow you to more deeply engage with the local food scene and pick up some cooking tips and skills, check out course offerings at The Table.  With the short half-day classes, visitors can have the best of both worlds – a cooking experience to learn more about local PEI foods in the morning followed by a delicious lunch and then the rest of the day free to explore other Island adventures and sights. For more information on cooking classes and prices, visit The Table Culinary Studio website at: http://www.thetablepei.ca/classes

The Table also offers fine dining in the evening (reservations required).  Click here to read my recent story on The Table’s North Shore Surf and Turf Dinner.

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Cooking Classes in PEI
Cooking Classes at The Table Culinary Studio in PEI
Cooking Classes in PEI
Cooking Classes at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Cooking Classes in Prince Edward Island
Cooking Class at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

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My thanks to The Table Culinary Studio for the opportunity to experience their “Bounty of the Sea” cooking class and for the fine hospitality. My participation in the class was complimentary for the purpose of conducting a review of the “Bounty of the Sea” cooking class. However, this in no way influenced my opinions of the class experience. All opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.

Feasting at The Table in New London, PEI

  At The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
At The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

One of the things most of us enjoy about travel is the opportunity to sample foods local to a region.  It’s part of the charm of a place and makes for great vacation memories.  At one time, vacationers went to a destination, did some sightseeing, took in some typical tourist attractions (amusement parks, museums, beaches, etc.), and ate at whatever restaurant they happened upon at meal time. Today’s travelers, generally speaking, are more interested in diversified travel experiences than they are simply going to a place so they can check it off their bucket list of places they have been.  Many seek out adventures that allow them to participate in activities, experience the uniqueness and authenticity of a place, mingle with the locals, and learn more about local foods and ways to prepare them.

Grilled PEI Oysters Topped With A Black Garlic Cream Sauce and Bacon Jam (at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI)
Grilled PEI Oysters Topped With A Black Garlic Cream Sauce and Bacon Jam (at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI)

One of the best ways to learn about a place and its culture is through its local food.  In fact, many travelers choose destinations based on the local food scene, food festivals and events, unique dining experiences, and opportunities to participate in culinary classes. Many, therefore, seek out experiences that allow them to connect more fully with a region and what better way to do that than through food, especially if it is experiential cuisine where you learn something about the foods you are eating.

The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

I was recently a guest at the North Shore Surf and Turf Dinner at The Table Culinary Studio which hosts themed communal-style dinners featuring Prince Edward Island foods throughout the summer months.  Today, I am going to share my dining experience at The Table with you.

The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

The Table Culinary Studio is the successor of Annie’s Table Culinary Studio which was started by Annie Leroux in 2012.  You can click here for my story on Annie’s Table Culinary Studio.  Current owner, Derrick Hoare (himself a trained chef), had been a long-time summer resident on PEI for many years, was retiring from his career in the health care profession, and was looking for his next adventure.  He contemplated buying a traditional restaurant in PEI but decided that was not his style.  When Annie’s Table became available for sale, Derrick liked the concept Annie had begun so he bought the business which he began operating in 2016. In addition to keeping the tradition of offering short culinary courses, he added themed evening dining to the menu and renamed the business to The Table Culinary Studio.

Derrick Hoare, Owner/Chef at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Derrick Hoare, Owner/Chef at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

Set in the small rural community of New London, not far from the resort municipality of Cavendish (the hometown of the fictional Anne of Green Gables – you may have heard of her!), you will find The Table on Route 8 or, as the locals would simply say, the Grahams Road.

At The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
At The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

With a backdrop of green fertile rolling countryside, The Table is located in a repurposed former United Church that is tastefully furnished with quality antiques.  Several of the elements of the decommissioned church have been incorporated into the décor, including the pulpit that now occupies a prominent position overlooking the dining hall.

Interior of the re-purposed country church that is now The Table Culinary Studio
Interior of the Re-purposed Country Church that is now The Table Culinary Studio

The entire venue is open concept so diners can watch the culinary team prepare the meal.  This unique dining experience will make you feel like you are more at an intimate dinner party with a private chef catering than at a restaurant.

At The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
At The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

Open seasonally, seven nights a week, for themed dinners that feature local Island foods that come from the land and the sea, The Table can accommodate up to 18 guests an evening, one seating only.  Tickets for the dinner must be reserved in advance  (by phone or email) and the menu for each evening is a set menu – you eat whatever is being prepared that night which takes the pressure off of studying a menu and trying to decide what to have. Drinks are at extra cost and are payable at the end of the evening along with the dinner.

The themed dinners range from the Traditional Island Feast to the Island Dinner Party to Isle and Fire to the North Shore Surf and Turf and all focus on fresh local foods harvested or fished nearby. Seating is at one long harvest table in the middle of the old church and food is served family style which is to say that the main meal, on large platters, arrives at the table and guests pass the platters around, serving themselves.  There are no individual tables.

At the Surf and Turf Dinner at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
At the Surf and Turf Dinner at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

It seems only fitting that communal dining would be the style of dining at The Table given that it is in a decommissioned church.  Communal dining dates back to biblical times – you know, the breaking of bread together.  The concept of individual tables for dining did not start until a long time after these origins.  Some may find it requires some stepping out of the comfort zone to attend a dinner with strangers all seated at the same table but, when you think about it, church and community potluck dinners have been around for ages and they are traditionally served at long communal tables where you don’t necessarily know the people seated around you.  We do a lot of cruising and have never requested a table for two in the ship’s dining room simply because we like to meet new people and inject some new conversation into meal times when traveling. So, sitting down to a meal alongside people I have not met before is quite comfortable and familiar for me. After all, the chances are that they are all food enthusiasts, too!

One of the lovely parts of this type of experiential dining is that you get to interact with those preparing the meal.  In contrast, if you go into a traditional style restaurant, you are seated, have limited contact with the wait staff, and most likely never see the chefs let alone have any direct contact with them.  At The Table, there are lots of opportunities to communicate directly with the owner/chef Derrick, executive chef Michael Bradley, oyster shucker George Dowdle, and The Table’s event planner, Christine Morgan. Together, this is the culinary team at The Table.

Chef Michael Smith, Executive Chef at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Executive Chef Michael Smith at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

The Table benefits from having a talented and enthusiastic young chef. With over ten years of experience in professional kitchens, Chef Michael Bradley is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown.  Chef Michael has been at The Table from the beginning, starting as an intern and working his way up to become the executive chef.

Outdoor Reception at the Surf and Turf Dinner at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Outdoor Reception at the Surf and Turf Dinner at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

I truly felt like I was at someone’s private dinner party.  It was a perfect sunny summer evening as guests arrived for the event which started on the side lawn of the church.  When I arrived, local aquaculturalist, George Dowdle, was busy shucking oysters that he had fished from the nearby Southwest River only hours before the dinner.

Aquaculturalist, George Dowdle, Shucking Oysters at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Aquaculturalist, George Dowdle, Shucking Oysters at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

Guests soon became preoccupied with consuming the fresh raw oysters which were served with a choice of three sauces:  Asian Thai, Lemon Herb, and Pomegranate Herb.  It wasn’t long before everyone felt comfortable and at home with each other as the conversations quickly turned to discussions about the food.

Freshly shucked oysters at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Freshly Shucked Oysters at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
PEI Oysters on the Grill at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
PEI Oysters on the Grill at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

Not quite into slurping raw oysters? Chef Michael also has a unique way of serving grilled oysters. He first puts the oysters on the open fire grill to warm them up, then shucks them and tops them with a black garlic cream sauce and bacon jam, then puts them back on the grill to re-heat them.  Simply sublime!

PEI Oysters hot off the grill and served with black garlic cream sauce and bacon jam
PEI Oysters Hot off the Grill and Served with Black Garlic Cream Sauce and Bacon Jam

While clams sometimes take a back seat in popularity to mussels and oysters, The Table includes them as part of the meal.

PEI Clams (at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI)
PEI Clams (at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI)

When we had our fill of oysters, out came the cheese and charcuterie trays.

Cheese Tray at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Cheese Tray at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

On this evening, The Table served their own homemade black garlic crackers alongside an assortment of cheeses from Ferme Isle St Jean in Rustico and Glasgow Glen Farm in New Glasgow. This was rounded out by pickled beets, pickled carrots, pickled spruce tips, and rhubarb chutney (all made in-house at The Table).

Condiments on the Charcuterie Tray at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Condiments on the Charcuterie Tray at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

While guests were busy noshing on the appetizers, Chef Michael was preparing the sirloin tip roast with a black garlic espresso rub. Cooked over an open fire, you can only imagine how tantalizing the scent was!

Executive Chef, Michael Bradley preps the grill for the sirloin tip beef
Executive Chef, Michael Bradley Preps the Grill for the Sirloin Tip Roast
Grilling the Sirloin Tip Beef Over an Open Fire at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Grilling the Sirloin Tip Beef Over an Open Fire at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

Then, Chef Michael demonstrated how they cook the mussels in a fire pit with seaweed and smoke.

Executive Chef at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI, Prepares the Cooking Pit to Cook the Mussels
Executive Chef at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI, Prepares the Cooking Pit to Cook the Mussels

The mussels are placed in wet pillowcases which give the moisture the mussels need to open.

Placing bags of Mussels in the Fire Pit at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Placing Bags of Mussels in the Fire Pit at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Covering bags of PEI Mussels with Seaweed for Cooking in the Fire Pit at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Covering Bags of PEI Mussels with Seaweed for Cooking in the Fire Pit at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Fire Pit for Cooking Mussels at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Fire Pit for Cooking Mussels at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Fire Pit for Cooking Mussels at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Fire Pit for Cooking Mussels at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

Guests leisurely made their way inside the church where the meal was served.  The big 12-foot long handmade harvest table occupies much of the space that once would have been filled with church pews.

The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

By this time, guests were very comfortable in the company of each other and, since there were three Islanders present, the conversation soon turned to various aspects of how local foods are produced and farming and fishing, in general.  Food is such a commonality and ice breaker!

Communal Dining at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Communal Dining at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

The meal began with a plated salad highlighted by the skirt steak from Atlantic Beef Products in Albany. The steak had been marinated in an onion garlic marinade.

Salad with skirt steak at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Salad with Skirt Steak at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

The boards of housemade sourdough bread were served with a black garlic spread as well as honey butter.

Bread Board at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Bread Board at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

Before each course was presented, Chef Michael came tableside to explain what the course consisted of and how it was prepared.

Executive Chef, Michael Bradley, at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Executive Chef, Michael Bradley, at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

Next came huge platters of bountiful mixed seasonal vegetables with the fire-grilled sirloin tip roast.

Platters of Vegetables and Sirloin Tip Roast at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Platters of Vegetables and Sirloin Tip Roast at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

The veggies (along with the salad greens) came from nearby Alexander Fresh Vegetables in Hope River. These were very attractively presented platters.

Platter of Vegetables and Sirloin Tip Roast at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Platter of Vegetables and Sirloin Tip Roast at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

Then, the seafood platters arrived.  All those mussels that had been cooking in the fire pit emerged from the pillowcases and formed the base for lobster claws and tails.

Lobsters and Mussels at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Lobsters and Mussels at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

The lobster, fished from boats out of nearby French River Harbour, had been par-cooked with a garlic butter and then was finished on the grill outside.

French River Harbour, PEI
French River Harbour, PEI

The green sauce accompanying the mussels was a garden pesto cream sauce.

Lobster and Mussels at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Lobster and Mussels at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

By this time, I was stuffed and thought I would just roll home but, wait, dessert was to come!  Dessert was a blood orange infused carrot cake with orange cream cheese icing. I didn’t get a photo of it because I was too busy enjoying the gluten-free option that was a deconstructed strawberry pie made with a strawberry balsamic reduction and gluten-free pastry lattice, all topped with lactose-free ice cream.

Gluten-Free Dessert at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI.
Gluten-Free Dessert at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI.

The Table prides itself on using the best of what is fresh and local.  Most foods for their themed dinners come from under 10 km away and are farmed and fished by friends and neighbours. So, you know that when you dine at The Table, food will not have traveled thousands of miles before it has reached your plate. In fact, you can seek out the same food suppliers to purchase high quality local PEI products.

I asked Christine if they ever get families for their dinners.  She tells me, although 90% of their clientele are adults, parents are welcome to bring their children and they do often have families in attendance.  Patrons should note, however, that there is no children’s menu offered so the wee folk eat the same food as the adults.

What I have described above is the meal for the Surf and Turf dinner.  I inquired if the meal ingredients are identical for this particular dinner every night.  Christine informs me that the appetizers, vegetables, and dessert do vary by what is seasonally available.  So, if you are having the Surf and Turf dinner at The Table after having read this post, you’ll be aware that the meal ingredients may not be 100% identical to what I enjoyed in early July.

So, if you want to really immerse yourself in local PEI foods and have a totally relaxing evening in the beautiful countryside of Prince Edward Island while feasting on carefully prepared dishes in a unique setting, you should check out The Table Culinary Studio. If you have dietary restrictions, be sure to advise of that when making your reservation and, to the extent possible, the culinary team at The Table will do all they can to accommodate special dietary needs.

For more information on dining options at The Table, and to make reservations, check out their website at http://www.thetablepei.ca/dining .

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Dinner at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Dinner at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Dinner at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Dinner at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

My thanks to The Table Culinary Studio for the opportunity to experience their North Shore Surf and Turf Dinner and for the fine hospitality. My dinner at the The Table Culinary Studio was complimentary for the purpose of conducting a review of the North Shore Surf and Turf dinner. However, this in no way influenced my opinions of the dinner experience. All opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.

On The Sandwich Board: Lobster Club Sandwich with a Twist

Club Sandwich
Lobster Club Sandwich

There is nothing better than lobster fresh from the sea and, living on Prince Edward Island, we are so fortunate to have ready access to this treat! The lobster fishery is one of PEI’s main fisheries.

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

It goes without saying that it’s a huge deal when the spring lobster fishing season opens.

Lobster Fishing
Lobster Fishing in all weather on PEI

Many islanders make it an annual ritual to head to a nearby wharf or beach before 6am on setting day to see the boats head out to sea to drop their traps.

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

The following day the fishers head back out to haul in the first catch of the season and we Islanders can’t wait for that first “feed” of lobster!

Arriving back in North Lake, PEI, with the day's catch
Arriving back in North Lake, PEI, with the day’s catch
Lobster
Fresh Catch of Lobster

When lobster is in season on the Island, I make good use of it as an ingredient and I find no shortage of ways in which to use the succulent meat.

So, today, on my sandwich board, is a lobster club sandwich with a twist.  It contains some of the elements of a traditional club sandwich but I jazz this version up a bit by adding lobster meat, avocado, pancetta, Havarti cheese,  lemon mayonnaise , and an avocado spread.  This fusion of complementary flavours results in a tasty (and hearty) colorful sandwich. A feast for the eyes as well as the stomach!

Lobster Club Sandwich
Lobster Club Sandwich

Lobster Club with a Twist

Sandwich ingredients:

3 slices bread of choice
2 – 3 oz cooked lobster, broken into bite-size pieces
1 oz pancetta, fried and drained
1 slice Havarti
½ small avocado, sliced and sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent browning (save the other half for the avocado spread)
Lettuce of choice
Tomato
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Avocado Spread (recipe follows)
Lemon Mayonnaise (recipe follows)
Butter

Avocado Spread:

½ small avocado (save the other half for slicing for sandwich)
1 – 1½ tsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
1/8 – ¼ tsp garlic salt
1 small green onion, finely sliced or diced

Lemon Mayonnaise:

1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
1 small green onion, finely sliced or diced

Avocado Spread:  Chop ½ avocado into small bowl. Using a hand-held immersion blender, blend lemon juice, olive oil, garlic salt, and green onion with the avocado, just until mixed.

Lemon Mayonnaise:  Mix mayonnaise, lemon juice, and green onion together well.

To Assemble Sandwich:  Heat 1-2 tsp butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the lobster and toss gently for 2-3 minutes, just long enough to warm the lobster.  Toast and butter the three bread slices.  Layer 1:  Spread two pieces of bread with the avocado spread.  Cover one slice of bread with lettuce and top with sliced tomato, pancetta, and Havarti slice. Top with the other slice of bread that is spread with avocado spread.  Layer 2: Spread the top slice of bread with half the lemon mayonnaise.  Lay the sliced avocado on top of the bread followed by a layer of lettuce.  Top with the lobster. Spread the third slice of bread with the remaining lemon mayonnaise and place over the lobster.  Secure sandwich with toothpicks and cut in half diagonally.  Enjoy!

Yield:  One sandwich

Lobster Club with a Twist

This ultimate club sandwich combines succulent lobster meat, pancetta, Havarti, and avocado with tomato, lettuce, avocado spread, and lemon mayonnaise to make a hearty meal.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword lobster
Servings 1
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

Sandwich ingredients:

  • 3 slices bread of choice
  • 2 - 3 oz cooked lobster, broken into bite-size pieces
  • 1 oz pancetta, fried and drained
  • 1 slice Havarti
  • ½ small avocado sliced and sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent browning (save the other half for the avocado spread)
  • Lettuce of choice
  • Tomato
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Avocado Spread (recipe follows)
  • Lemon Mayonnaise (recipe follows)
  • Butter

Avocado Spread:

  • ½ small avocado (save the other half for slicing for sandwich)
  • 1 – 1½ tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/8 – ¼ tsp garlic salt
  • 1 small green onion, finely sliced or diced

Lemon Mayonnaise:

  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 small green onion, finely sliced or diced

Instructions

Avocado Spread: Chop ½ avocado into small bowl. Using a hand-held immersion blender, blend lemon juice, olive oil, garlic salt, and green onion with the avocado, just until mixed.

    Lemon Mayonnaise: Mix mayonnaise, lemon juice, and green onion together well.

      To Assemble Sandwich: Heat 1-2 tsp butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the lobster and toss gently for 2-3 minutes, just long enough to warm the lobster. Toast and butter the three bread slices. Layer 1: Spread two pieces of bread with the avocado spread. Cover one slice of bread with lettuce and top with sliced tomato, pancetta, and Havarti slice. Top with the other slice of bread that is spread with avocado spread. Layer 2: Spread the top slice of bread with half the lemon mayonnaise. Lay the sliced avocado on top of the bread followed by a layer of lettuce. Top with the lobster. Spread the third slice of bread with the remaining lemon mayonnaise and place over the lobster. Secure sandwich with toothpicks and cut in half diagonally. Enjoy!

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        Lobster Club Sandwich
        Lobster Club Sandwich

        An Acadian Lobster Feast

        At the PEI Fall Flavours 2017 event, "Le Festin acadien avec homard"
        At the PEI Fall Flavours 2017 event, “Le Festin acadien avec homard”

        If there is one consolation to summer’s end on PEI, it’s the anticipation that September brings the annual PEI Fall Flavours Festival. The Island’s emerging culinary scene with all its fine foods is showcased each September in an array of culinary events that comprise the festival. What started out in 2008 as a small 10-day festival consisting of a few culinary events aiming to extend the Island’s short tourism season into September, the festival has grown into a full month-long feast extravaganza.

        Potato Harvesting in PEI
        Potato Harvesting in PEI

        September is the perfect month for a PEI food festival as the produce is at its prime, potato harvesting is getting underway, and the fall lobster season is open in certain zones around the Island. We are lucky here in PEI – we have a wonderful array of fresh local foods from the land and sea and the festival is a great celebration of our love of local foods.  Culinary events are spread out in communities across the Island and each tends to highlight foods that come from a particular area and/or that are associated with a certain region’s culture.

        The “Festin acadien avec homard” (or lobster feast) at Abram-Village, west of Summerside, is always the first PEI Fall Flavours Festival culinary event of the season and it signals a tasty month ahead. Tickets for this event sell out weeks in advance and it is one Fall Flavours event that is certain to draw a lot of Islanders to the Evangeline area. In some respects, it’s almost like a homecoming weekend as family members travel home to the Island’s Evangeline region for the annual Evangeline Agricultural Exhibition & Acadian Festival.  There is no better way to learn, first hand, about the culture of a region than to partake of the regional foods and entertainment.  “Le Festin acadien avec homard scores high points on both counts.

        This year marked the second year that I attended this event – that’s testament to how much I enjoyed it the first time!  While the menu remained almost identical to the previous year, what changed was the entertainment and the headline celebrity chef who, in 2017, was Chef Danny Smiles, Chef de cuisine at Restaurant Le Bremner in Old Montreal. This was Chef Smiles’ debut at the PEI Fall Flavours Festival.

        Chef Danny Smiles at the PEI Fall Flavours "Le Festin acadien avec homard" event 2017
        Chef Danny Smiles at the PEI Fall Flavours “Le Festin acadien avec homard” event 2017

        The lively musical entertainment was provided by Vishten, a trio of talented musicians (two from PEI and one from the Magdalen Islands).  Rooted in traditional music from the two east coast islands, their indie-folk style fuses Acadian and Celtic genres and motivates foot stomping and hand clapping.  The performers are multi instrumentalists and they easily transition between various musical instruments that include violin, guitar, accordian, and keyboard.  The trio tours and performs internationally and has five albums and more than 1000 performances to their credit.

        Vishten entertaining at the PEI Fall Flavours "Le Festin acadien avec homard" event 2017
        Vishten entertaining at the PEI Fall Flavours “Le Festin acadien avec homard” event 2017

        The “Festin acadien avec homard” event has been running for several years and organizers have it well organized and they are very efficient in carrying it out.  MC Georges Arsenault is a very capable and effective Master of Ceremonies.

        Georges Arsenault, Master of Ceremonies at the PEI Fall Flavours "Le Festin acadien avec homard" event 2017
        Georges Arsenault, Master of Ceremonies at the PEI Fall Flavours “Le Festin acadien avec homard” event 2017

        Georges had lots of fun in store for the evening that included a demonstration of different ways that lobster can be cracked and eaten.

        Chef Danny Smiles Demonstrates How He Opens A Lobster
        Chef Danny Smiles Demonstrates How He Opens A Lobster

        Georges selected a young person from the audience who had never cracked open a lobster before, celebrity chef Danny Smiles, and Odette Gallant from the Evangeline area who has been cracking open lobster with her teeth all of her life – yes, her teeth!  I wondered how many sets of teeth she might have gone through because those lobster shells are hard!

        Using Teeth to Crack Open a Lobster
        Using Teeth to Crack Open a Lobster
        Young Man Gets Some Professional Instruction from Chef Danny Smiles on How to Crack Open A Lobster
        Young Man Gets Some Professional Instruction from Chef Danny Smiles on How to Crack Open A Lobster

        Georges also had audience participation on stage as a member of Vishten taught Chef Danny and others how to step dance.

        Stepdancing Lessons at Le Festin acadien avec homard (PEI Fall Flavours Event 2017)
        Stepdancing Lessons at Le Festin acadien avec homard (PEI Fall Flavours Event 2017)

        All of this entertainment took place in between courses of the meal.  Oh yes, the menu……

        As this event took place in the region of the province that has a high concentration of the Island’s Acadian population, it is obvious that the evening’s menu would focus on Acadian fare along with lobster and potato salad since the region is known for its farming and fishing industries.

        Serving up Steamed PEI Mussels at Le Festin acadien avec homard (PEI Fall Flavours Event 2017)
        Serving up Steamed PEI Mussels at Le Festin acadien avec homard (PEI Fall Flavours Event 2017)

        Like many PEI gatherings, the evening started off with steamed PEI mussels.  Patrons were then invited to sample three new soda flavors produced by Upstreet Craft Brewing in Charlottetown.

        Sampling New Line of Sodas from Upstreet Craft Brewing of Charlottetown, PEI at Le Festin acadien avec homard (PEI Fall Flavours Event 2017)
        Sampling New Line of Sodas from Upstreet Craft Brewing of Charlottetown, PEI at Le Festin acadien avec homard (PEI Fall Flavours Event 2017)

        Known for their craft beer, making soda is a new venture for Upstreet.  The event proved to be a great opportunity for the brewery to showcase their new products – Strawberry Rhubarb Basil, Apple Ginger Elderflower, and Malt Spice Cola.

        New Line of Sodas from Upstreet Craft Brewing of Charlottetown, PEI at Le Festin acadien avec homard (PEI Fall Flavours Event 2017)
        New Line of Sodas from Upstreet Craft Brewing of Charlottetown, PEI at Le Festin acadien avec homard (PEI Fall Flavours Event 2017)

        Dinner was served, family style, at long communal tables.  Servers, garbed in traditional Acadian dress, brought bowls or platters of food to both ends of the table and the food was then passed from one diner to the next with each person serving him or herself.

        Serving Chicken Fricot at Le Festin acadien avec homard (PEI Fall Flavours Event 2017)
        Serving Chicken Fricot at Le Festin acadien avec homard (PEI Fall Flavours Event 2017)

        The first course was Chicken Fricot, a traditional Acadian broth stew made primarily of chicken, onion, and potato and seasoned with summer savory.

        Chicken Fricot
        Chicken Fricot

        Every time I have a bowl of this stew, I’m always amazed at how tasty it is given that so few ingredients are in it.  I maintain it’s the summer savory herb that makes this dish.  Summer savory is used a lot on PEI and most Island cooks add it to their poultry dressing/stuffing.

        Chicken Fricot
        Chicken Fricot

        This was followed by the second course comprised of Râpure and Acadian Meat Pie.

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

        Some may know the grated potato dish, râpure as “rappie pie”, a name that stems from the French verb “râper” which means “to grate”. The grated potatoes are squeezed through cheesecloth to remove the liquid which is then replaced by adding broth (usually chicken) and baking it, casserole style, with onion, and cooked meat such as chicken or pork. The end result is a hearty and tasty dish.

        Acadian Rapure
        Acadian Rapure

        The second course also included Acadian meat pie or, pâté, as it is sometimes called.

        Acadian Meat Pie
        Acadian Meat Pie

        This is a very common dish in Acadian communities and is an integral part of Christmas Eve celebrations in many Acadian homes on PEI, though it is now commonly served at other times of the year as well.  Molasses is often drizzled on top of the meat pie to add a touch of sweetness to this savory dish.

        Acadian Meat Pie with Molasses
        Acadian Meat Pie with Molasses

        Our server, Velma Durant, was very pleasant and most accommodating to me with my camera clicking away throughout the evening!

        Server Arrives at Table with Platter of PEI Lobster (at the Le Festin acadien avec homard event, PEI Fall Flavours Festival 2017)
        Server Arrives at Table with Platter of PEI Lobster (at the Le Festin acadien avec homard event, PEI Fall Flavours Festival 2017)

        Then, of course, it was time for the pièce d’résistance – PEI lobster in the shell served with true, authentic homemade PEI potato salad – these folks know how to make a perfect potato salad!

        PEI Lobster served with homemade Potato Salad (at the Le Festin acadien avec homard event, PEI Fall Flavours Festival 2017)
        PEI Lobster served with homemade Potato Salad (at the Le Festin acadien avec homard event, PEI Fall Flavours Festival 2017)

        It just would not be a PEI lobster feed without the potato salad!

        PEI Potato Salad
        PEI Potato Salad

        French biscuits were on the table, too, with that good ADL butter!

        French Biscuits
        French Biscuits

        And, for those who still had room, homemade apple pie polished off the evening’s menu.

        Apple Pie
        Apple Pie

        One thing is for sure, no one would have gone away hungry after this mammoth meal!

        For stories on other PEI Fall Flavours culinary events I’ve attended, click on the links below:

        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)
        Mussels on the Hill (2016)
        Toes, Taps, & Taters (2017)
        Taste of Georgetown (2017)
        Taste of North Rustico – A Rustico Kitchen Party (2017)
        Taste of Tyne Valley (2017)

        PEI Fall Flavours 2017 Event "Festin acadien avec homard"

        Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

        Seafood Crepes
        Asparagus and Lobster Crepes

        Springtime in Prince Edward Island on Canada’s east coast means it’s lobster season so it’s a great time to make these delectable lobster and asparagus crepes that combine two of the season’s special treats!

        The lobster fishery is a significant industry on the Island and, according to the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website, “lobster is Canada’s most valuable seafood export and an iconic Canadian species exported around the world.” (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/sustainable-durable/fisheries-peches/lobster-homard-eng.htm).

        Fresh PEI Lobster
        Steamed Lobster in the Shell

        The opening of the spring lobster season is a huge deal in PEI. On opening day — the day when fishers head out to sea with boats laden with traps — hundreds of Islanders gather at fishing ports around the province to see the fishers off. Naturally, mouths are watering for the first taste of lobster from the cold Atlantic waters, a taste that is usually satisfied a day or two after traps are set and the “first haul” of lobsters is brought ashore.

        Preparing for Setting Day
        Eve of Setting Day in the Fishing Village of North Rustico, PEI, Canada
        Parade of Lobster Boats
        Early Morning Gathering in French River, PEI, to Watch Parade of Lobster Boats on Setting Day

        These are so worth the wait!

        PEI Lobsters
        Fresh Catch of the Day – PEI Lobsters

        While I adore lobster straight out of the shell and served with homemade potato salad, I like creating recipes incorporating this tasty seafood as an ingredient.  Asparagus is the first vegetable of springtime on PEI and, for the crepes I am featuring in this posting, I am using asparagus as a complimentary ingredient to the lobster. The earthy undertones of the asparagus pair particularly well with lobster, especially when some mushrooms and a rich cheese sauce are added. Choose small mushrooms, either white button or the cremini variety, for this recipe.

        My asparagus comes from the farm of Tim Dixon in North Tryon in central PEI, not far from the Confederation Bridge.  Click here to read the story I previously wrote on Tim’s asparagus-growing operation. For the filled crepe recipe, try to choose the freshest available  asparagus spears that are a uniform size. I tend to choose medium-sized spears. I find that spears that are pencil thin tend to cook up too quickly and become somewhat limp. Thick spears tend to have less flavor because they have gotten too old before they have been harvested. They may also have a somewhat unpleasant woody texture. The key thing to remember about steaming the asparagus is not to overcook it because it will go limp and loose its vibrant green color.

        Fresh Asparagus

        The crepes for this recipe may be made ahead (by a few hours or even a day or two) and stored between layers of plastic wrap in a tightly sealed bag in the refrigerator. Following the steps I have laid out for this recipe will help organize the process of preparing the filling and steaming the asparagus so that everything is timed to be ready at the same time for the crepe assembly.

        I am quite lucky here on the Island as my local fish market, MR Seafoods,  in Charlottetown sells lobster already out of the shell which means they have done the work of removing the meat from the shell and then disposing of the shells. I find this is a quick and convenient way for me to get lobster meat for a recipe.

        These crepes can be baked in au gratin dishes, a 7″x11″ baking pan or on a parchment-lined baking sheet which is the way the ones in the photos in this posting were baked. I wanted to ensure that the asparagus would remain intact and clearly visible when the crepes were plated so, by baking them on a rimmed cookie sheet, nothing disturbed the asparagus which could have happened if they were scrunched into a tight baking dish such as an au gratin.

        Seafood Crepes
        Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

        As always, I recommend reading the recipe through a couple of times to ensure a good understanding of the method of preparation and that all the ingredients and cooking utensils and cookware needed to prepare the dish are available.

        [Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

        Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

        Ingredients:

        Crepes:
        2 large eggs
        1 cup flour (to make gluten-free, use 1 cup of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)
        1/8 tsp salt
        1 cup whole milk
        2 tbsp melted butter

        Sauce:
        ¼ cup butter
        1 shallot, finely minced (about 1 tbsp)
        ¼ cup flour (to make gluten-free, use ¼ cup of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)
        ½ tsp granulated garlic
        ¼ tsp dried dill
        1/8 tsp paprika
        1/8 tsp nutmeg
        1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
        1 cup whole milk or half-and-half
        2 extra-large egg yolks, lightly broken up with a fork
        2 tbsp dry white wine or cooking sherry
        1 cup grated cheese mixture (e.g., mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan)
        Salt and pepper, to taste

        Filling:
        2-3 teaspoons butter
        1 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced

        8 oz cooked lobster meat, cut into small chunks
        40 asparagus spears

        Garnish:
        3-4 green onions (white and light green parts only) and/or fresh herbs for garnish (optional)

        Method:

        Step 1 – Make the crepes.  In large measuring cup or bowl and using an immersion blender, beat the eggs lightly.  Combine the flour and salt and beat in to the egg alternately with the milk, starting and ending with the flour (3 additions of flour and 2 additions of milk).  Beat in the melted butter and beat an additional 30 seconds, or until batter is smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate batter for 1 hour.

        Over medium heat, melt apx. 1½ tsp butter in a 8” non-stick skillet with sloped sides. Using a ¼-cup measuring cup, scoop up batter. Pour the batter in to the heated skillet while quickly swirling and tilting the pan to ensure batter distributes evenly and completely over the bottom of the pan. Return pan to heat and cook crepe until top loses its gloss, tiny bubbles start to appear, and the edges of the crepe start to slightly curl. Gently lift an edge of the crepe with the tip of a fork and grab the crepe with fingers and flip it over.  Cook the second side of the crepe for 15-20 seconds. Flip the crepe onto a clean tea towel. Repeat for remaining crepes, adding small amounts of butter to the pan, if necessary, to keep the crepes from sticking to the pan.

        Step 2 – Make the sauce.  In medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Sauté the shallot until softened and transparent. In small bowl, whisk the flour, granulated garlic, dill, paprika, and nutmeg together. Stir flour mixture into the butter and shallot and cook until frothy.  Whisk in the chicken (or vegetable stock) and milk (or half-and-half).  Cook sauce, until mixture is smooth and heated (but not boiling) and is starting to thicken, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.  Stir 2-3 tablespoons of the hot mixture into the egg yolks then pour egg mixture into the sauce.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is thickened.  Stir in white wine or cooking sherry.  Add the cheese mixture.  Continue to cook over low heat, stirring until mixture is smooth and cheese is melted.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove approximately 3/4 cup of the sauce and set aside.

        Step 3 – Make the filling.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  In medium-sized skillet, melt 2-3 teaspoons of butter over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent mushrooms from scorching.  While mushrooms are sautéing, steam the asparagus in a tall pot with a small amount of boiling water for approximately 2 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer the asparagus to a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Swish the asparagus in the cold water for just a few seconds then drain in a colander. This will also help keep the asparagus its vibrant green color. Remove mushrooms from heat and combine with the lobster meat.  Add the reserved ¾ cup of sauce and stir gently to coat mushrooms and lobster meat.

        Step 4: Assemble the crepes.  Line 9”x13” rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Lay out 8 crepes on work surface.  Place 5 asparagus spears in the centre of each crepe, extending the asparagus tips by about ½” beyond the edge of the crepe.  Divide the lobster and mushroom filling mixture between the 8 crepes by placing filling down the center line of each crepe on top of the asparagus.  Gently fold crepe over filling, first one side and then overlapping the opposite side over the first. Using large pastry scraper or flat spatula, carefully transfer each crepe to the prepared baking sheet. Pour the remaining sauce over crepes to cover, leaving both ends of the crepes uncovered. Alternatively, the crepes may be baked in either 4 individual greased au gratin dishes or one oblong 7”x11” baking pan.  However, baking the crepes on a baking sheet allows the asparagus tips to stay perfectly intact and attractively visible when plated.

        Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and, if desired, sprinkle with chopped green onions and/or chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or chives.

        Serving Suggestion: Serve with favorite green salad.

        Yield:  4 servings, 2 crepes each

        Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

        Yield: 4 servings

        Serving Size: 2 crepes per serving

        Delectable crepes filled with fresh asparagus, succulent chunks of lobster, and sautéed mushrooms in a rich cheese sauce.

        Ingredients

        • Crepes:
        • 2 large eggs
        • 1 cup flour (to make gluten-free, use 1 cup of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)
        • 1/8 tsp salt
        • 1 cup whole milk
        • 2 tbsp melted butter
        • Sauce:
        • ¼ cup butter
        • 1 shallot, finely minced (about 1 tbsp)
        • ¼ cup flour (to make gluten-free, use ¼ cup of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)
        • ½ tsp granulated garlic
        • ¼ tsp dried dill
        • 1/8 tsp paprika
        • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
        • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
        • 1 cup whole milk or half-and-half
        • 2 extra-large egg yolks, lightly broken up with a fork
        • 2 tbsp dry white wine or cooking sherry
        • 1 cup grated cheese mixture (e.g., mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan)
        • Salt and pepper, to taste
        • Filling:
        • 2-3 teaspoons butter
        • 1 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced
        • 8 oz cooked lobster meat, cut into small chunks
        • 40 asparagus spears
        • Garnish:
        • 3-4 green onions (white and light green parts only) and/or fresh herbs for garnish (optional)

        Instructions

        1. Step 1 - Make the crepes. In large measuring cup or bowl and using an immersion blender, beat the eggs lightly. Combine the flour and salt and beat in to the egg alternately with the milk, starting and ending with the flour (3 additions of flour and 2 additions of milk). Beat in the melted butter and beat an additional 30 seconds, or until batter is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate batter for 1 hour.
        2. Over medium heat, melt apx. 1½ tsp butter in a 8” non-stick skillet with sloped sides. Using a ¼-cup measuring cup, scoop up batter. Pour the batter in to the heated skillet while quickly swirling and tilting the pan to ensure batter distributes evenly and completely over the bottom of the pan. Return pan to heat and cook crepe until top loses its gloss, tiny bubbles start to appear, and the edges of the crepe start to slightly curl. Gently lift an edge of the crepe with the tip of a fork and grab the crepe with fingers and flip it over. Cook the second side of the crepe for 15-20 seconds. Flip the crepe onto a clean tea towel. Repeat for remaining crepes, adding small amounts of butter to the pan, if necessary, to keep the crepes from sticking to the pan.
        3. Step 2 - Make the sauce. In medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Sauté the shallot until softened and transparent. In small bowl, whisk the flour, granulated garlic, dill, paprika, and nutmeg together. Stir flour mixture into the butter and shallot and cook until frothy. Whisk in the chicken (or vegetable stock) and milk (or half-and-half). Cook sauce, until mixture is smooth and heated (but not boiling), and is starting to thicken, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Stir 2-3 tablespoons of the hot mixture into the egg yolks then pour egg mixture into the sauce. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is thickened. Stir in white wine or cooking sherry. Add the cheese mixture. Continue to cook over low heat, stirring until mixture is smooth and cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove approximately 3/4 cup of the sauce and set aside.
        4. Step 3 - Make the filling. Preheat oven to 350°F. In medium-sized skillet, melt 2-3 teaspoons of butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent mushrooms from scorching. While mushrooms are sautéing, steam the asparagus in a tall pot with a small amount of boiling water for approximately 2 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer the asparagus to a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Swish the asparagus in the cold water for just a few seconds then drain in a colander. This will also help keep the asparagus its vibrant green color. Remove mushrooms from heat and combine with the lobster meat. Add the reserved ¾ cup of sauce and stir gently to coat mushrooms and lobster meat.
        5. Step 4: Assemble the crepes. Line 9”x13” rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay out 8 crepes on work surface. Place 5 asparagus spears in the centre of each crepe, extending the asparagus tips by about ½” beyond the edge of the crepe. Divide the lobster and mushroom filling mixture between the 8 crepes by placing filling down the center line of each crepe on top of the asparagus. Gently fold crepe over filling, first one side and then overlapping the opposite side over the first. Using large pastry scraper or flat spatula, carefully transfer each crepe to the prepared baking sheet. Pour the remaining sauce over crepes to cover, leaving both ends of the crepes uncovered. Alternatively, the crepes may be baked in either 4 individual greased au gratin dishes or one oblong 7”x11” baking pan. However, baking the crepes on a baking sheet allows the asparagus tips to stay perfectly intact and attractively visible when plated.
        6. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and, if desired, sprinkle with chopped green onions and/or chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or chives.

        Notes

        Serving Suggestion: Serve with favorite green salad

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        Seafood Crepes
        Lobster and Asparagus Crepes
        Seafood Crepes

        Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

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        Lobster and Asparagus Crepes
        Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

        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

        PEI Fall Flavors Event: Le Festin acadien avec homard

        September heralds the beginning of the annual PEI Fall Flavours 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 Flavours 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 Flavours 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 Flavours event, Abram-Village, PEI, 2016

        The event was hosted by celebrity chef, Anna Olson, who is no stranger to the PEI Fall Flavours 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 Flavours 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 Flavours 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 Flavours 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 Flavours 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

        Lobster Cakes

        Barbara's Lobster Cakes
        Barbara’s Lobster Cakes

        The opening of the spring lobster season on Prince Edward Island is always an event.  Fishing boats, laden with lobster traps like those in the photos below, depart wharves around the Island in the very early morning to set their traps, often going several miles out to sea.  This is called “setting day” and it is not uncommon for people in the local fishing communities to head to their local wharves to see the fishing boats off.  Setting day 2013 was yesterday, April 29th.  I didn’t make it to a wharf yesterday or today but I am sharing some photographs I took during fishing season 2012.

        Lobster Fishing Boat Loaded for Traps to be Set on “Setting Day”, Victoria-by-the-Sea, PEI, May 6, 2012

         

        Lobster Fishing Boats Loaded for Traps to be Set on “Setting Day”, Victoria-by-the-Sea, PEI, May 6, 2012

         

        Lobster Fishing Boat Loaded for Traps to be Set on “Setting Day”, Victoria-by-the-Sea, PEI, May 6, 2012

        Several communities also have church services known as the “Blessing of the Fleet” services on the Sunday before setting day.  These are sometimes held inside nearby local churches but, most frequently, they are held on the wharves of the fishing ports.

        Today was the first day of the season that fishers could check their set traps and bring in their catches.  The photos below were taken at North Lake Harbour, PEI on June 1, 2012; however, the same scene would be playing out today at many harbours across PEI.

        Lobster Fishing Boats Filled With Their Day's Catch Returning to Port at North Lake, PEI [June 1, 2012]
        Lobster Fishing Boats Filled With Their Day’s Catch Returning to Port at North Lake, PEI [June 1, 2012]

        Lobster Fishing Boats, North Lake, PEI [June 1, 2012]
        Lobster Fishing Boats, North Lake, PEI [June 1, 2012]
        Unloading the Day's Catch at North Lake Harbour [June 1, 2012]
        Unloading the Day’s Catch at North Lake Harbour, PEI [June 1, 2012]
        And, here are the “goods”!

        "The Prized Cargo" - Fresh PEI Lobster
        “The Prized Cargo” – Fresh PEI Lobster!

        Boats at rest after their day’s work fetching the catch.

        North Lake Harbour, PEI [June 1, 2012]
        North Lake Harbour, PEI [June 1, 2012]
        And, once they are cooked, look at the fabulous rich color of these freshly caught PEI lobsters!

        Cooked Lobsters
        Cooked Lobsters

        Many Islanders will be dining on fresh lobster for supper this evening.  For many, it is a tradition to have fresh lobster on the first day of the catch.  This is one of the benefits of living on an Island – we have plenty of fresh seafood.  Many (including myself) will argue that lobster from the spring fishery is better than lobster fished later in the summer from waters that have warmed up over the season (even though lobster from the later catch is very good, too).  I don’t know why it is but lobster from the cold Atlantic water always does seem to taste better and I think even has a better texture meat.

        I remember the first time I was on a Caribbean cruise many years ago, ordering lobster from the dinner menu.  My taste buds were salivating for what I knew to be lobster taste.  Oh my!  It didn’t taste like lobster at all as I know it.  That’s when I discovered the difference in taste of lobster that comes out of cold water and that out of very warm waters!  I never ordered lobster from a cruise ship menu again.  I wait for the good PEI lobster at home!  The ironic part of this is that I never liked lobster when I was growing up.  In fact, when the family would be chowing down on lobster, my mother always roasted me a chicken!  However, they convinced me to try a bite of it when I was probably about 18 years old and I’ve never looked back and have more than made up for it since!  I love lobster by itself and in just about any other recipe imaginable!

        So, tonight, I am dining on Lobster Cakes to celebrate the opening of the 2013 PEI lobster fishery season and am sharing my recipe with you.

        Barbara's Lobster Cakes

        Barbara’s Lobster Cakes

        2 cups warm mashed potatoes (about 2-3 medium-sized potatoes)

        1 egg, beaten

        1 tbsp tartar sauce

        2 oz. grated cheddar cheese

        ¼ tsp dried dillweed

        ½ tsp parsley

        Freshly ground pepper, to taste

        1 small scallion (apx. 1 ½ tbsp)

        2 tbsp celery, finely chopped

        2 tbsp red pepper, finely chopped

        7 – 8 oz. cooked lobster (fresh or frozen), cut into bite-sized chunks

        ½ – 1 cup bread crumbs

         

        Apx. ¾ cup finely ground seasoned bread crumbs for dredging lobster patties

        1 – 2 tbsp oil

         

        Method:

        Place warm mashed potatoes in large bowl.  Add beaten egg and mix well.  Add tartar sauce.

        Stir in grated cheddar cheese.

        Add dillweed, parsley, and pepper.  Stir in scallions, celery, and red pepper.

        Lastly, add the lobster and mix well.  Add just enough of the first amount of bread crumbs so the mixture will hold together and can be formed into patties.

         

        Using ¼ cup measuring cup, scoop up mixture and form into round patties.  In shallow bowl, place the seasoned bread crumbs.  Dredge each patty in the bread crumbs until completely covered on all sides.  Place on wax-paper lined baking sheet and chill for 1 hour to allow flavours to blend and for patties to become firm so they won’t break apart when sautéed.

        Preheat oven to 375F.

        Heat oil in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  When oil is hot, reduce heat to medium and sauté lobster cakes 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown.  Transfer browned cakes to greased baking sheet.  Bake in oven 6-7 minutes to finish the cooking process and allow cakes to become firm so they will hold together.

        Serve lobster cakes, 2 per person, hot with citrus aioli or your favorite tartar sauce and a side of green salad.

        Lobster Cakes with Citrus Aioli
        Lobster Cakes with Citrus Aioli

         

        These cakes freeze well, uncooked.  When ready to serve, simply remove cakes from freezer and thaw.  Sauté and bake as described above.

        Yield:  Apx. 1 dozen cakes

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        Lobster Cakes
        Lobster Cakes

         

        Mother’s Day Tea

        Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers.  I hope you were wonderfully spoiled today.

        There are so many ways to celebrate Mom on Mother’s Day.   Some years we have been travelling, other years we have gone to brunches at a favorite hotel restaurant, and other years we have stayed home and had our first lobster “feed” of the season (which is part of what we did this year, too).  However, I decided to host a Mother’s Day Tea this year, also.

        I love afternoon teas – they harken back to the genteel days where life moved at a slower pace and times seemed gentler.  Hosting a tea is a wonderful, relaxing way to savour a light meal.  Afternoon teas need not be extravagant (although they are wonderful when they are!).  They can be very simple but, for Mother’s Day, the special day to celebrate mothers, it is nice to dress up the event.  Do set a lovely table complete with pristine linens and your finest china (we all know that tea, for some reason, always tastes best when served in a china cup, right?)

        Of course, Mother’s Day in Canada, falling on the second Sunday in May, always coincides closely with the opening of the Spring lobster fishing season in Prince Edward Island.   The first traps were set on May 1st this year with the first catches being landed on the following day.  Many families celebrate Mother’s Day along with their first official “feed” of lobster of the season.  Many a lobster are cracked open and savoured on Mother’s Day weekend in PEI!

        For my tea, I opted to make lobster the star attraction.  I made lobster sandwiches and also tried a new recipe for lobster salad in puff pastry from the Spring 2012 issue of Victoria Classic “Teatime Bliss“.  I was not disappointed.  The delicate, flaky pastries filled with lobster salad were a tasty savory addition to my tea.  For those not liking lobster, I included the quintessential cucumber sandwiches as well.

        On the beverage front, I served Yellow Tail “Bubbles Rosé” followed, of course, with tea.  My tea offering was “Traditional Afternoon” from Williamson Tea.

        For the Mother’s Day cake, I chose a traditional teatime cake – the Battenburg cake.  This is a sponge cake of two colors, assembled in checkerboard fashion, then covered in marzipan and iced with fondant icing.  This made a colorful finale to a wonderful afternoon tea.

        Sweets included an assortment of tiny cookies, French Macaroons, coconut macaroons, squares, Scotch cakes, and lemon Madeleines.

        I highly encourage afternoon tea any time of the year as a relaxing way to spend some quality time and have some great conversation with those who mean the most to you.  What a grand afternoon!

         

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