A Little Province with a Big History
Prince Edward Island is steeped in history. Originally named St. Jean, the island decided there were too many St. John’s in the maritimes, so in 1799 the named was changed to Prince Edward in honour of the Duke of Kent, father of Queen Victoria. The Capital city, Charlottetown, was where representatives from the British North American colonies met in 1864 to discuss confederation. Interestingly enough, P.E.I didn’t actually join confederation when Canada became a nation in 1867. It was not until the colony experienced some economic difficulties in 1873 that they decided to become apart of the country.
Food Island…aka Heaven
P.E.I. is Canada’s smallest province, but this hasn’t stopped it from leading the charge in the country’s culinary scene. You may be surprised to learn that P.E.I. is known as “Canada’s Food Island”. Sounds like Heaven to us. Prince Edward Island is a magical combination of land and sea that, with the help of some dedicated farmers and chefs, is pumping out some seriously delicious eats. But what foods are specific to the Island?
This includes lobster, mussels and oysters. Being an Island, P.E.I has a lot of coast line, so it is no surprise that they have incredible sea food. In fact, P.E.I oysters were declared “best in the world” at the world fair in Paris in 1900, and the small province accounts for 80% of the country’s mussel production. These people know they’re seafood.
Raspberry Cream Cheese Pie
Half cheesecake, half raspberry pie. Need we say more?
Move over Ireland. The P.E.I. potato is world-famous, The spuds are the island’s number-one cash crop, so you can be sure they take their potatoes seriously.
Mock Cherry Pie
This pie is made of cranberries and raisins, and while it isn’t really unique to the island, it is found in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s cookbook and was apparently her son’s favourite. For those of you who may not know, L.M. Montgomery was the author of the Anne of Green Gables novels, which have been beloved across Canada for generations.
Obviously in a place that specializes in shellfish and potatoes you’re bound to find chowder, and if you visit the island without trying some you’re making a grave error.
P.E.I. began raising cattle because of the need to rotate their potato crops. For this reason cattle is raised on small, family-run farms without the use of antibiotics, steroids and hormones. Instead of grain, these cows nosh on potatoes and are allowed to age longer, resulting in better marbling and a more intense flavour. So basically it tastes way better, is more humane and is better for the environment… three cheers for the island!
Fries with the Works (FWTW)
P.E.I.’s response to poutine. The story goes that a customer at Pat’s Take-Out (sadly closed in the mid-80s) did not have enough money to buy a meal, so the cook just threw whatever was left on the grill on top of some fries for him and an island staple was born. Pat’s is now called G&E and calls itself the home of “FWTW”.
Food Adventures in P.E.I.
Narrowing down the best restaurants and food attractions to visit while on the Island was pretty much the most difficult thing we’ve ever tried to do. That being said, here are a few of our top picks:
Fall Flavours Festival
Ok, if you’re going to plan a trip to Prince Edward Island, do yourself a favour and book it for september. The fall flavours festival features famous chefs as seen on the Food Network such as Chef Michael Smith (an island native!), chef Lynn Crawford, and Chef Anna Olsen, to name just a few. Last year’s festival featured events like the Chef’s Gala by the Sea, Mussels on the Hill, and the Lobster Party on the Beach (say whaa?). We’re honestly looking at flights for 2017 already. Get the details here.
The P.E.I International Shellfish Festival
This is technically a part of the Fall Flavours Festival, but deserves it’s own special mention. Known as “the biggest kitchen party in Atlantic Canada”, you *may* want to plan that trip that we know you’re already thinking about to ensure you’re in town on September 17…just saying. Find more info here.
Choose your culinary adventure by getting your hands on the P.E.I. guidebook and map that has been designed around the island’s many culinary treasures. Give yourself time though- you’re going to need it if you want to experience it all! Details here.
Sooo… you should all get over to Prince Edward Island like, yesterday. But if we can’t convince you, perhaps Chef Michael Smith can: