Monday, September 21, 2015

Gratuitous PEI Food Post

 
Chowder at the Blue Mussel Cafe, North Rustico

Whenever someone wants to come visit us in PEI, there's one important question that needs to be asked - do you like seafood? Because let's be real, 95% of what I do when I go to PEI is eat. Lobster, oysters, mussels, clams, fish and chips - whether it's raw, boiled, fried, or in a chowder, PEI does it, and does it well.



The little harbour by my parents' house is lined with shanties where fishermen store their equipment. The smaller boats docked there are for harvesting oysters and mussels from the harbour. The bigger boats go out on the gulf for fish. We'd thought that the fishing authorities had moved tuna to another location, but after we left, my parents saw several being brought in. Some neighbors who live here year-round invited Mom and Dad over for dinner to share some of the tuna they'd caught.


Caesars and Mussels at home, Savage Harbour

While I still burn toast, I'm lucky to have a father who comes from a long line of cooks. We had oysters, mussels, and chowder at home, as well as drinks around 5:00 every afternoon. We had lots of Caesars - the Canadian version of a Bloody Mary, where you substitute Clamato for tomato juice.


Rick's Fish 'n Chips, Saint Peters Bay (blue table pictures)



Fish and chips is another treat available pretty much everywhere. You usually have a choice between a few kinds of fish - generally haddock, cod, sole, or halibut. Keep in mind, PEI is like the Idaho of Canada - potato central - so they know fries as well as seafood.


Wicked Fries Food Truck, Morell (yellow table pictures)

Red Head Harbour for Mussels, Fisherman's Wharf for a full Lobster Supper

We did the lobster supper thing pretty last minute. Honestly, lobster is good and all, but it's nowhere near the top of my list for favorite seafood. (Maybe it's being from Virginia, where Chesapeake Bay crabs rule.) I'm also not big on the idea of lobster suppers. The side dishes often end up being bland, and it's just way too much food to enjoy. That said, while Fisherman's Wharf wasn't exceptional, they provided a lot of different options and a lot of food for a very good price.



The Blue Mussel Cafe in North Rustico was probably the stand-out this year. It had great views from the patio and a nice, cheesy crab dip to go with our drinks. But the chowder was really, really good - full of chunks of seafood (though some of us got more than others), garnished with mussels on top, and served with a cheese biscuit that was the perfect complement. I'd put it up there with the Point Prim Chowder House and the Malpeque Oyster Barn (sadly, when we stopped by the latter this year, we were turned away for not having reservations, though all but one table was empty). Besides, the Blue Mussel Cafe has a restaurant dog! Hard to go wrong there.


Crab Dip and beer at the Blue Oyster Cafe, North Rustico



We enjoyed a few inland treats this year too. I'd never stopped by the PEI Preserve Company before. It's the type of place where you'll see lots of tourist buses, but they're in a beautiful location and sell boozy jam, which is really all they needed to capture my heart. Samples of almost every flavor are set out around the store. I got a couple of jars, but the one I'm most excited about is the Cabernet Sauvignon jelly.


Fooling around the the PEI Preserve Company

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