I recently got the
chance to visit Prince Edward Island, a truly
beautiful, fertile and bountiful  province with the warmest,
most generous people anywhere. The rolling hills and valleys of
neat patchwork quilt fields of produce and grazing are bordered by
sandy beaches and splendid cliffs of the uniquely PEI rusty red
soil. Quaint fishing villages dot the shoreline and are home to
delicious clams, oysters and world famous mussels. The mussels, by
the way,  are farmed in neat rows in the bays. Did you know
that they grow on ropes in ‘socks’? And did I mention that PEI with
its 27 golf courses makes it the top Canadian Golf destination. Of
course, it’s also the home of Anne of Green Gables.

But I confess, I came for the food! The second
annual Fall Flavours is a festival like no other. One
hundred and fifty foodie events spread over 10 days and if the
opening weekend is any indication…well, it’s no wonder that I met a
number of people who came all the way from western Canada and the
US to relive last year’s experience.

There are a number of distinct ways to celebrate: signature
event that are small and intimate or large and spectacular,
interactive taste workshops, working with local producers digging
clams, catching lobsters, harvesting oysters, and more. The list is
awesome.
So let me just share some highlights of my fun stay:

 

Chocolate Making Workshop – Dipped in
Chocolate at Island Chocolates in Victoria By the Sea: Linda, along
with her son, Eric and daughter, Emma run this family chocolate
business. We learned about where chocolate comes from, how it’s
processed, how to make molded chocolate, hand rolled and dipped
chocolates. It all started off with the best hot chocolate I’ve
ever tasted. My favourite treat was the chocolate cups that Eric
filled with mango cream and local blueberries (see pic
above).

The Launch of Chef Michael Smith’s latest cookbook
The Best of Chef at Home
(and it is!): After the
book signing – everyone got an autographed copy – the student chefs
at Culinary Institute of Canada cooked up all 120 recipes for the
150 guests.  Each of the 25 tables had a different menu and a
lazy Susan in the centre where each course was served family style.
We were encouraged to check out what the other tables were enjoying
and trying other dishes as well.  My favorite soup “borrowed”
from another table was the Cream of Mushroom Soup that I had to
make the second I got home (and was just as delicious as when the
real chefs made it).

 

Chef Calvin Burt at his extraordinary café in
Margate
: The Shipwright’s Café is actually a restored
1880’s farmhouse on four acres.  Needless to say, the
vegetables for the bruschetta came from his garden, the eggs for
the ginger Creme Brule came from his own free range chickens. We
all got in the act to make some famous PEI Potato Bread to work up
an appetite for lunch. Chef Calvin is charming and his home/café is
so pretty, it’s worth the trip all by itself. Did I mention how
awesome lunch was? PEI mussels steamed with a little white wine,
his own garlic and tomatoes were the perfect accompaniment to the
unique baked bruschetta (images above). And the lovely little loaf
of our Potato Bread efforts was enjoyed by all back home.

 

The Gala Heritage Dinner at Roma at Three
Rivers
: This national historic site is located at
Brudenell Point where the Montague, Cardigan and Brudenell Rivers
meet. During the 1730’s Jean Pierre Roma established a French
settlement there and during the past five years the site has been
brought back to life through the efforts of the non-profit
organization. During the summer season they offer lively and
interactive programs, guided tours, heritage garden and costumed
interpreters.  Our dinner, made of local PEI foods was served
as it would have been back in the olden days: Roasted Squash Soup
with PEI Cheddar and Bacon Crumble Fresh Atlantic Salmon with
Smoked Corn Salsa, Parsnip Puree and Candied Beets (images, above).
And as if the dinner wasn’t enough, there was dinner theatre, with
Chef Michel (AKA Michael Smith) playing the French Chef on a visit
from Paris.   

All in all it was hard to say goodbye to PEI and Fall Flavours
and my wonderful stay at the Delta Prince Edward, where the card at
turn down (along with the chocolate) said it best, “We apologize in
advance for your not wanting to get out of bed in the morning.”
Guess where I’ll be next year!

Ruth Daniels is a food blogger and cookbook author based in
Atlantic Canada. 

Editor’s Note: Ruth also had a chance to
capture some of the event on video. We’ll be sharing that in the
coming weeks on Food for Thought. Stay tuned!

Related:Recipes from
Michael Smith on FoodNetwork.ca