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Picnic Lunch in the Gazebo in St. Peter’s Bay, PEI

Picnic in the Gazebo at St. Peter's Bay, PEI
Picnic in the Gazebo at St. Peter’s Bay, PEI

We thoroughly enjoy our home province of Prince Edward Island! Our special Island is small enough that we can get to know all parts of it quite well.  In summer, especially, we do a lot of day trips all around the Island.  Most times, for our day excursions, I pack a picnic lunch and we head off for the day.  Sometimes, I have a particular picnic destination in mind and have a good idea if there will be a park nearby that would be suitable for a picnic and, other times, it’s totally by chance where we land at picnic time. Apart from the opportunity to dine outdoors in our all-too-short summer season here on Canada’s Atlantic Coast, transporting our own meal means we can eat wherever we are whenever we are hungry without having to try and be at a certain location where there is a restaurant which may, or may not, be able to accommodate dietary needs.

Our recent day trip took us to the north shore area of the eastern part of the Island.  I love PEI lighthouses – the iconic red and white structures are dotted here and there all around the coast of the Island.  I had been searching to find the St. Peter’s Bay Lighthouse for some time and was determined to find it this year.  So, this was our primary destination on this particular day trip.

St. Peter's Harbour Lighthouse, PEI
St. Peter’s Harbour Lighthouse, PEI

It wasn’t particularly easy to find this elusive lighthouse  but, with assistance of an acquaintance who provided directions, I was able to locate it.  Access is via a single lane red clay road with a canopy of trees.  The adventure was indeed worth it!

After we enjoyed the vista surrounding the lighthouse, not to mention the beautiful beach, we decided it was time to find a place to set out our picnic.

PEI North Shore Beach
Beach by St. Peter’s Bay Lighthouse, Morell, PEI

I knew of the small park by the water in nearby St. Peter’s Bay where I had had a picnic before (click here to view those photos).  What I didn’t recall was the lovely gazebo at this site. This find was a blessing since the temperature had soared to 28C by this time and it was way too hot to eat out in the open with no shelter!

When we arrived, we found the large gazebo unoccupied so immediately went about setting out our picnic lunch.  Someone had planted beautiful flowers in boxes around the gazebo and that formed a ready backdrop that I could not have planned or hoped for. Bonus! See how gorgeous the flowers look in the photo below and how they fortuitously match my color scheme and complement the color of the lemonade!

Picnic in a Gazebo
Picnic in a Gazebo

The color theme of my picnic was turquoise, always a summery color. The burst of hot pink in the drink certainly adds a punch of color!

Picnic Salad Bowls
Picnic Salad Bowls

I found the bowls, matching small salad dressing containers, and rectangular dishes at Walmart.  Not only are they all color-coordinated in turquoise blue but the dishes come with the needed cutlery built in, a real bonus because there is no need to remember to bring cutlery separately.

Turquoise-themed Picnic
Turquoise-themed Picnic

The bowls match my insulated picnic basket.  A blue-checked tablecloth and checkered napkins, already part of my picnic arsenal, were found to match as well.

Turquoise and Blueberry Blue Details
Turquoise and Blueberry Blue Details

A small model sailboat in matching colors and a collection of shells formed the centerpiece for my tablescape. I figure if I am going to dine outside, I might as well go all the way and set the table attractively! It makes for a more fun and memorable picnic.

Sailboat and Shells Tablescape
Sailboat and Shells Tablescape

For lunch, I prepared my version of a picnic buddha bowl, ensuring it contained contents that would travel.  There is no one right way to make a buddha bowl but, typically, they contain some kind of grain (preferably high fibre), veggies and fruit, a protein source, and greens.  I began by layering the bowl with lettuce from our garden. Our garden has been a good producer this year so the cherry tomatoes, celery (it’s there but it’s hiding in the photo), and carrots are garden-fresh. The grain I chose to use was a tri-colored quinoa. To make the meal more substantial and to add some protein, I included a half hard boiled egg in each bowl. The addition of the red onion gives a flavor and color boost. I love how colorful and healthy this salad is!

Main Meal Picnic Salad
Main Meal Picnic Salad

I often brine and roast boneless skinless chicken breasts for various uses and they are perfect sliced for a main meal salad or as added protein in a buddah bowl.

Picnic Salad
Picnic Salad

Some freshly picked blueberries from the Tryon Blueberries U-pick added a bit of color, texture, and sweetness to the salad.  A simple balsamic dressing was all that was needed to finish the salad.  This type of meal is great for a picnic.  The meal is completely prepped at home and contained in a bowl with the dressing added at the time of serving.  The meal travels well – I use several ice packs in my insulated picnic basket to keep the food good and cold.  At meal time, it is simply a matter of removing the cover from each diner’s bowl and the meal is ready to go. Clean-up is super easy because the covers pop back on to the bowls and the utensils fit inside the bowls so there are no messy plates and utensils.

These high bush blueberries are great snacking berries and I often pack them in my picnic basket when the berries are in season.  Today, their blue color matches my color scheme, too!

High Bush Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

Peanut butter cookies are always a great stand-by picnic treat.  They are easy to make, easy to transport, and satisfy the sweet tooth.  For my recipe, click here.

Peanut Butter Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookies

Peaches are also a great fruit to take along on picnics. I love to incorporate the flavors of summer into my picnic menus.

Peaches and Cookies
Peaches and Cookies

 

I love the little bottles in the photo below.  When I made the rhubarb lemonade earlier in the summer, I froze some in these bottles to have it ready for picnics.  The bottles help to keep the food cool as we travel and they quickly finish thawing completely when removed from the cooler as the picnic is being laid out. This is a super tasty (and colorful) summer drink – you can access my recipe by clicking here.

Picnic in St. Peter's Bay, PEI
Picnic in St. Peter’s Bay, PEI

I hope you have enjoyed a peek into my picnic in the gazebo in St. Peter’s Bay, PEI! The Island has many picturesque places suitable for picnics and each comes with its own unique view.

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Picnic in St. Peter's Bay
Picnic in St. Peter’s Bay

For other picnic inspiration from My Island Bistro Kitchen, check out these:

Picnic by the Confederation Bridge in PEI
Sliders and Salad Sunday Picnic
A PEI Picnic in the Park
Casual Summer Picnic
A Canada Day Picnic in St. Peter’s Bay, PEI
A Casual Summer Afternoon Picnic
A Beach-Themed Picnic
A Pretty Pink Picnic
Canada Day Picnic
Oh Canada! A Picnic to Celebrate Canada Day
Labour Day Picnic by the PEI Seaside with Lobster Croissants on the Menu
A Plaid Picnic on the Verandah
Locovore’s Picnic – Food Day Canada 2016
Late Summer Charcuterie Picnic
Sunday Afternoon Wine and Cheese Picnic
Old Country Rose Afternoon Tea Picnic

Late Summer Charcuterie Picnic

Summer is reluctant to leave Prince Edward Island this year and I’m perfectly fine with that.  Today (September 19, 2015), the temperature soared to almost the 30C mark! We’re not accustomed to these kinds of temperatures in mid-September here on the Island ….but we’ll take them!

Just as summer may not be in a hurry to leave us, I’m equally reluctant to put away my picnic basket.  When temperatures are still delightfully summer-like, I want to continue with my picnics.

A Charcuterie board is a wonderful and easy way to prepare a light meal, whether indoors or in the great outdoors.  It can be as simple or elaborate as you like. I’ve opted to prepare a fairly substantial board for our meal this evening because I’m not cooking a dinner this evening (it’s simply too warm – how great is it to be able to say that!). So, here’s our early evening charcuterie-plus board fare.

Let’s take a closer look at what’s on the board. Quiches are great additions to picnic fare since they can be eaten cold or served slightly warm and they can be prepared ahead of time.  This is my asparagus quiche and you can get my recipe here.

Asparagus Quiche
Asparagus Quiche

I’ve included devilled eggs on the menu since they are classic picnic fare. Besides their wonderful flavor, they also add color and texture to the board. Those are three elements I like to keep in mind when preparing a charcuterie board.

Add any cold cuts you like to the board. I’ve included salami and Tuscan ham on my board today.

I’ve only included one cheese on the board – a good quality Gouda. If I hadn’t included the quiche, I would have added more cheese and meat varieties. Adding some garden-fresh cherry or grape tomatoes adds a bright pop of color to the board. These are fresh from our garden. We have a bountiful supply of fresh herbs in the garden and they make great “fillers” to close in space on charcuterie boards.

Slices from a long baguette are suitable bases for the cold cuts and cheese.

My rhubarb relish is a tasty condiment to this type of meal.

Green grapes and blueberries round out the fruit component. The blueberries are fresh picked from the Tryon Blueberries U-pick. We are lucky to have them not far away as they have late season varieties of blueberries so we have fresh local berries through September.

My staple of oatcakes can be used as either a savory or sweet aspect to the meal. Spread an oatcake with a bit of rhubarb relish and add some meat and/or cheese, and you have a savory bite. Or, eat them plain as cookies.  They’re good either way.

My wine pairing today is Rossignol Little Sands White Wine produced in eastern PEI.

And, there you have all the components of my colorful and tasty late summer charcuterie picnic!

Perfect for easy, relaxed casual dining anytime, anyplace.

I’m just not going to pack away that picnic basket just yet!

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Charcuterie Picnic
Charcuterie Picnic

 

 

A Canada Day Picnic in St. Peter’s Bay, PEI

Picnic at St. Peter's Bay, PEI
Picnic at St. Peter’s Bay, PEI

One of our usual Canada Day traditions is to go on a red-themed picnic. This year, we headed East to the Greenwich National Park, not far from St. Peter’s Bay. I have been to this park several times before and am always awestruck by its natural beauty.  Before I share photos of our Canada Day picnic, I thought you might like to see photos of the beauty that is Greenwich.

Greenwich National Park, PEI
Greenwich National Park, PEI (Blue Heron in Foreground)

From the parking lot, the trek on the path through the fields and woods and out over the floating boardwalk to the magnificent beach and back is about 5 km. It’s mostly flat terrain (except for a very short jaunt through the woods) and, for the most part, easy walking.

Boardwalk at Greenwich National Park, PEI
Boardwalk at Greenwich National Park, PEI

The only hitch is that you have to share nature with the mosquitoes on the walk on the trail through the field and the woods to reach the boardwalk so, if you head to Greenwich, be sure to bring along some insect repellent to make the experience more enjoyable. Depending on the weather, some sunscreen is also advised.  It’s also a good idea to bring along some water to stay hydrated.

The pink sand dunes of Greenwich National Park, PEI
The pink sand dunes of Greenwich National Park, PEI

The photo you see above is a typical scene along the floating boardwalk at Greenwich National Park.  The pink sand dune in the background is all the work of Mother Nature. At the end of the boardwalk, you arrive at the magnificent beach shown in the photos below.

Entering the beach at Greenwich National Park, PEI
Entering the beach from the end of the floating boardwalk at Greenwich National Park, PEI

You won’t find a finer beach anywhere than this one at Greenwich. I always refer to it as the perfect, unblemished jewel amongst our system of national parks on the Island.

Beach at Greenwich National Park, PEI
Beach at Greenwich National Park, PEI

During lobster fishing season, and from the vantage of this beautiful beach, it’s not uncommon to see the fishing boats returning from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the nearby harbour with their catch of the day.

Fishing boat returning to port with the day's catch
Fishing boat returning to port with the day’s catch

Apart from the scenery, one of the wonderful aspects of Greenwich National Park is the variety of wildlife and birds. Some, like the Common Tern below, are quite willing to pose for photos!

The little Sandpiper below chose a lovely natural backdrop for its portrait!

Blue herons, common to PEI, are often seen in and around the waters between the sand dunes at Greenwich.

Blue Heron at Greenwich National Park, PEI
Blue Heron at Greenwich National Park, PEI

These are but a few of the many different kinds of birds often sighted at Greenwich so a leisurely walk on the boardwalk between the dunes offers a great opportunity for bird enthusiasts.

By the time we had finished our morning hike through Greenwich, we had worked up an appetite. I had packed a simple picnic lunch and made sure it was stowed in an insulated cooler with lots of ice packs because temperatures soared to 28°C on Wednesday. I use my traditional non-insulated picnic basket (shown in the photo below) to transport non-perishables.

On the way to Greenwich through St. Peter’s Bay, I had noticed a small park with picnic tables by the water. I thought, even though the lighting for photography may not have been the best, this would be a good spot for our picnic.

My picnic menu was not elaborate and was quick and easy to pull together. Ham sandwiches on oat bran bread were the main feature accompanied by salad on a stick with small individual containers of vinaigrette for dipping the vegetables.

Any combination of vegetables and cheese can be selected for threading on to the skewers. This is a simple way to serve salad ingredients and can be prepared before leaving home. It also cuts down on the number of containers of ingredients that need to be transported to the picnic site as well as dirty salad bowls to have to bring back home. I try to pack as minimally and efficiently as I can because I’m never certain how far I might be parked from the picnic table site.

I had just made a fresh batch of rhubarb cordial so that was our red beverage which I served in these cute little glass milk bottles along with red and white straws.

I brought along some fresh strawberries for a light dessert (are you seeing the red theme I have going on here!)

I had stopped at Jewel’s Country Market on my way East and picked up this gorgeous red geranium which made a great centerpiece, especially when decked with mini Canada flags. I had taken along one of my small potted herbs which could also be used as a centerpiece because I wasn’t certain I would be able to find a red geranium. Yes, even on a picnic, I like to see a nicely set table.  🙂

DSC_0198

I like small pots of herbs because I can use them in many ways and, while we do have a small in-ground herb garden, I also keep a number growing in pots over the summer. The benefit of having some herbs in pots is that they can be transported to wherever they are needed. I often use them as table centerpieces because, as well as being decorative, they can also be clipped and used to flavour food. In the case of our picnic, the basil was used to flavour the vinaigrette.

This was how we celebrated Canada Day 2015.  I hope you have enjoyed this brief photo tour of PEI’s Greenwich National Park, a unique natural treasure we Islanders are lucky to have in our midst.  If you live on PEI, or have the opportunity to visit the Island, I hope you will travel to Greenwich and experience its beauty for yourself.

To view previous postings of our Canada Day celebrations in years past, click on the following links:  2012, 2013, and 2014.

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