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Brain Injury Support Meetings

If you or someone you know is a brain injury survivor then Brain Injury Support Meetings are for you [ ... ]

Al-Anon Day

District 10 Al-Anon Family Groups will be having a Al-Anon Day featuring a spiritual speaker on Octo [ ... ]

A good cup of tea

Chow

by Ann Thurlow

Mary MacGillivray of Brìgh Music and Tea (photo: Ann Thurlow)You get the feeling that, in about five years, Brìgh Music and Tea is going to be legendary. It’s already pretty marvelous—a small shop full of instruments, books, CDs, anything related to Celtic music. The handmade guitars and the thumb pianos are interesting. But we’re headed for the back, where shop owner Mary MacGillivray is going to make us a cup of tea.

“I really think music and tea go together, don’t you?” she says. MacGillivray grew up in a musical family and she says two things were always on the go at their place: the music and the tea pot. So it seemed natural that, when she and partner Cian O Morain decided to open a music shop, there would be tea as well.

But not just any tea. In her former life MacGillivray was a nutritionist. She’s sold on the benefits of, not only tea, but tea from healthy sources. When she was putting together the collection of teas for her shop, she actually consulted a tea sommelier, who is also her friend. Her eyes light up when she says that; you can tell she wants to do that, too.

The teas at Brìgh are a combination of what we know as tea (camellia sinensis, if you want to be precise) and tisanes, which are made from herbs and fruits. In what she calls phase two of her shop, she wants to source more of her tisanes locally. But for now, she puts down a compostable cup and a compostable lid and begins offering her wares. Here is a Scottish pu erh or fermented tea with caramel or a cream Earl Gray (which tastes like velvet). Since I have a cold, she suggests an organic peppermint, which is bright and soothing at the same time. Or if you absolutely have your heart set on Irish tea, she can pull out an Irish Breakfast Tea or a special stash of an Irish Tea called Barry’s. Kids love orange hibiscus ice tea, she says.

It’s not a tea shop per se. You can buy packages of tea so you can make your own at home. You can get a cup of tea to go or you can try to find a seat in the store and chat to Mary. She can talk to you all day about tea or about Celtic culture. If you are completely lucky, she’ll sing you a song.

Brìgh Music and Tea, 93 Water Street, Charlottetown.

Even better

One Great Bite
by Ann Thurlow

From the window in the pretty restaurant in Georgetown, you can see the Asian women walking home from their shifts at the fish plant. It is cultures meeting and it seems to work. So does this soup in front of me. You can call it chowder and you should—even if the broth is red and the spices are Thai. This is how you add a new thing to make something even better than the old thing. You can have it the old way, you can have it the new way. The point: both ways are just fine.

 

Inspired idea

One Great Thing
by Ann Thurlow

Down at the waterfront you can hear the tourists murmuring and the kids begging for ice cream. The water laps against boats and the masts make that clinking sound. Close by, someone is playing Für Elise. Because—what?—someone had the daffy, inspired idea to install a piano under the pagoda. The wind picks up the notes, bringing them closer to your ear and then teasing them away. There is no big sign, no cost of admission. You can just sit down and play and make the world randomly more beautiful.

A hand up

Submitted by Ann Thurlow

In this time of harvest and plenty on Canada’s “Food Island,” when the last of the harvest is gathered from the fields, when we are about to celebrate that harvest, it’s hard to remember that not everybody has enough to eat. As yet another report pointed out in September, there are still an unacceptable number of people living in poverty—people for whom the source of the next meal is a real and continuing problem.

Since 2013, the PEI Food Exchange has addressed this problem. It’s a grassroots group that tries to improve food security for themselves and their communities through gleaning, growing food and education.

For the past two years the Food Exchange has delivered four programs covering food skills, growing food and preserving food. Connecting existing resources and building networks with others is an important element of their program and often ideas come up through the group that make a big difference for a small amount of money. As an example, volunteers collect and deliver unsold produce from the Farmer’s Market.

But they can’t run their programs for nothing. So they hold the annual “Step up to the Plate” dinner. It honours the local food system and the beautiful produce Island farmers grow. Every year the vegetarian dinner is prepared using seasonal, local produce in a way that is exciting, healthy, delicious and financially accessible. The dinner is prepared by volunteers under the direction of Chef Emily Wells of the Mill in New Glasgow. It takes place Tuesday October 24th, 2017 at the PEI Farm Centre, 420 University Ave. “Appie” hour is from 5:00–6:00 pm (no ticket required, drop ins are welcome) and the dinner is from 6:00–8:30 pm. Tickets are $25. To purchase one call Shannon at 902-213-7298 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or go to the Voluntary Resource Centre at 81 Prince Street.

The proceeds from this dinner support the Food Exchange’s programs. It is a delicious way to help a remarkable group of people take some control, to be assured of a good next meal. 

Find of the month: Nurturing Essence

Submitted by Ann Thurlow

Originally, I planned to tout the wonders of the raw chocolate Snickers bar made and sold by Katlin Doyle at Nurturing Essence. She has a booth at the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market—she produces all kinds of raw chocolate/vegan treats. But I’m the sort of person who tends toward the familiar so I always get the same old Snickers. Then the black bean truffles caught my eye. They are, unexpectedly, smooth and delicious—rich in a way you would not expect from something made of beans. Black beans and chocolate seem to love each other and bring out each other’s best characteristics. Eat yours slowly; the flavours are complex and delicious. Plus, it’s candy that’s good for you. 

In praise of late summer vegetables

Submitted by Ann Thurlow

I just realized I had gathered all the ingredients for ratatouille without even thinking about it. It’s not difficult at this time of year. You need eggplant, onions, red pepper, zucchini and tomatoes and they’re all in season right now. I have made ratatouille with other than fresh local vegetables because I craved it so, out of season. But here’s the point of this really great stew: it’s only good at this time of year. I would happily eat it every day except that I share my table with someone who is almost accommodating enough, but not quite.

Ratatouille is a Provencal stir fry, basically And, as with all classic recipes, there are as many ways to make it as there are people who cook it. One well known recipe calls for fennel and marjoram; I myself would never dream of introducing such strong flavours—I think it would throw off the balance of the dish. As far as herbs go, I could be pressed to use basil, but only if it’s right in front of my face.

One place where the classic recipe and I agree: you have to cook all the veg, except the tomatoes, in separate pans. That way, the individual flavours of each vegetable come shining through. Remember, this is about late summer vegetables. Early summer vegetables taste like earth; late summer vegetables taste like sun.

Here’s my way: cut equal amounts onion, zucchini and red bell pepper into biggish chunks. Smash a couple cloves of garlic. Chunk up roughly the same amount of fresh, sweet pulpy tomatoes and set aside. I love eggplant so I cut chucks of a good sized one. Cook the garlic for one minute over low heat with lots of olive oil. Add onions and zucchini. Cook the red pepper and eggplant each in their own pan, the same way; eggplant likes lots of oil. When all the veg are nice and soft (not mushy) put them in the same pan and throw in the tomatoes. Cover until the tomatoes break down. Uncover, stir and add a tiny squirt of hot sauce, a little dab of maple syrup and salt to taste. Let it cook down until it’s not watery and serve with parmesan and basil, if you want. It’s not the purist way, but it’s my own celebration of the very best eating and the very best days of the year.

Glace de Goat

Chow

by Ann Thurlow

Em Zember at her goat's milk ice cream stand (photo: Ann Thurlow)As I have mentioned before, a summer drive can take a person to some very good eating. It can also yield some lovely surprises, as was the case with a little meander down Portage Rd (between Oyster Bed Bridge and Brackley Beach). There in front of the Great Canadian Soap Company was a new (to me) sign advertising a café and, most intriguingly, goat ice cream.

The cafe is tucked in next to the soap shop, kitty-corner across the yard from the goat barn. It’s always a nice idea to stop by and thank them for their hard work; you’ll certainly want to after you taste the ice cream. The café is rough and a little small, but it’s worth it to try to snag a table: it’s a very cozy spot. The menu includes grilled cheese sandwiches (made with their own goat cheese), coffee—including espresso, lemonade and—the star attraction—several flavours of ice cream. Owner Em Zember likes to experiment and follow the seasons. On a recent visit, there was fresh peach ice cream, as well as pineapple mango, chocolate and vanilla. You taste the slight tang of goat’s milk but the ice cream is creamy and a lovely counterpoint to the tart fruit.

This is the very sort of place to visit in the summer. The novelty makes you feel as if you’ve had a little vacation. You’ll have something delicious to eat. After you eat, you can buy some soap for a souvenir and some excellent cheese for supper—if you’re lucky, there will be some cheddar. Go and thank the goats again and think how lucky we are.

Great Canadian Soap Company 4224 Portage Rd, Brackley Beach

Stout-hearted

One Great Bite
by Ann Thurlow

I know stout is a kind of beer, but I would call this ale stout, too. As in stout-hearted, as in a robust flavour that reminds a person of the Yorkshire dales and of kindly people in rough hewn sweaters. You know, the sort you can always lean on. And the fact this ale is called Do Good-er just seals the deal. It’s made by Upstreet, a company that has gone out of its way to be responsible, to be kind, to be a strong and reliable friend. The feeling rubs off. For so many reasons, you feel good, too.

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Pink Floyd tribute at Harbourfront

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The Thank You Canada Tour

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