Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thanksgiving in PEI

We took advantage of the thanksgiving long weekend to visit Prince Edward Island, a charming land of farms and sea coast. In exchange for playing 36 holes of golf, my boyfriend agreed we would visit Anne. I loved the books as a young girl, and have always wanted to visit. L. M. Montgomery wrote with such affection and real knowledge of PEI, that the island was as much of a character as Diana or Gilbert.

And so we saw Green Gables.

But we really fell in love with the food.

Our first stop was the Charlottetown farmer's market, where we debated whether or not to buy our weekly produce. There was a good variety, and lots of preserves, in addition to beautiful leather work, baskets, and other crafts. There were also a lot of food stalls. We wanted to have lunch in Charlottetown, so we decided not to eat at the market. BUT, we did have some amazing little doughnuts, hot now from a tiny machine!

They were so good, I was afraid they had been fried in lard. And also too afraid that I wouldn't be able to eat them to ask!

Our next meal was eh, at the Merchantman Pub in Charlottetown. All of the local produce pamphlets had included it as one of the restaurants on the island that really stressed local, fresh seasonal ingredients. The very nice red peppers did not make up for the fact that my veggie tacos were actually a burrito and not very flavorful. It was good not great.

Especially in retrospect since we had one of our favorite meals anywhere in the maritimes that night at the Pearl Cafe. PEI is trying to develop agro-tourism, stressing the number of local family farms and the availability of great produce and meat. The Pearl is one of the restaurants that I had heard about as participating in farm-to-table type cuisine. The Pearl is between Cavendish (Anne-town) and North Rustico, the major cluster of businesses on the north shore (this means, 10 businesses all spreading out from a single intersection! PEI is tiny!). It's in a gorgeous building, I heard it was a converted woodshop.

It was so beautifully decorated. Exposed beams, wood paneling, and just really nice details. Like this pretty lamp.

It was too dark to take pictures of the food or any of the other parts of the restaurant. But I will tell you a little about what we ate. It was thanksgiving, and Paddy had his first of two turkey dinners that weekend. This one had turkey and stuffing and gravy. And they were so nice to replace the creamy mashed potatoes with these delectable fried potato puffs. And there was kale and carrots, and really delicious pickled pearl onions.

I had really yummy parsnip and carrot "pasta" in a walnut pesto, that came inside a wee pumpkin. And kale on the side. By itself, it was pretty good, but adding paddy's potatoes and pickled onions made it the best veggie plate I've had in the maritimes. And then there was apple cobbler and a pistachio praline for dessert. YUM!

We also ate really well at the B&B where we stayed, the Beach House Inn. Waffles one day, poached eggs the next, and bacon at every breakfast for Paddy.

Our other great meal was at the Dunes Gallery and Cafe.

It was the last day of their season, and they had a special three course lunch to benefit an organization that put PEI farmers in touch with Kenyan farmers, and arranged exchanges between children in both places. Everywhere we went, we heard locals bemoaning the decline of agriculture in the province. I hope the farms survive, because they make amazing foods.

At the Dunes, Paddy had turkey soup to start, and I had an amazing plate of little salads. A beet and goat cheese "slaw," an amazing panzanella with tiny tomatoes, some quick pickled cauliflower, a couscous salad with peas and raisins, all topped by a big pile of really good sprouts. So many yummy tastes!

Our main courses were steak for paddy, and swiss chard polenta with a tomato and mushroom sauce.

Our desserts were sooooooo good. Very simple, an apple cobbler and a blueberry cobbler. But both were so fruitastically tasty. I would go back just for them.

We ate so well, we had to take a long walk along the shore to get ready for Paddy's second thanksgiving dinner.

Thank you Prince Edward Island!!! For giving us Anne and delicious foods. Next year we'd like to invite you all to visit PEI for thanksgiving weekend with us and enjoy lots and lots of turkey dinners. Paddy has a list of at least 5 places we didn't get a chance to go.


  1. So fun! I am looking forward to some Diwali recipes, please!

  2. I firmly believe in your "don't ask, don't tell" policy when it comes to lard.