Tag Archives: lobster

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

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/06/05/lobster-and-asparagus-crepes/

Seafood Crepes
Lobster and Asparagus Crepes
Seafood 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

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today. There are lots of ways to connect with “the Bistro” through social media:

Join My Island Bistro Kitchen on Facebook
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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!

 

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today. There are lots of ways to connect with “the Bistro” through social media:

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Find the Bistro on Pinterest at “Island Bistro Kitchen”
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