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WCB recognizes students

The Workers Compensation Board (WCB) recognizes high school students from across PEI who participate [ ... ]

VFC Innovation Jam

Venture for Canada’s Innovation Jam is a chance to build new skills and networks, and demonstrate  [ ... ]

How I learned to cook: Kathy Stewart

Submitted by Ann Thurlow

Kathy Stewart has worked in PEI kitchens all her life—most recently as a banquet chef at the Confederation Centre. Now she and partner Juneellen Clausheide are going to into business at the Farmers’ Market with a line of prepared foods, using recipes they’ve developed to reflect their belief in wholesome and delicious dishes.

“I was one of seven kids and my parents both worked. Though my dad would never have insisted on it, my mother thought it was important for him to have dinner on the table when he came home. So when she wasn’t there, it became my job. I was twelve at the time and I can tell you, there were a lot of burned potatoes. But I learned to cook with love and I’ve never forgotten it.

My mother was a very inventive cook; she had to be. She made chicken wings with French dressing and soy sauce. I used to take them to potlucks and people would beg me for more.”

Local Food Heroes: Hopyard

Submitted by Ann Thurlow

Mike Ross and Jane Crawford finish each other’s sentences like an old married couple. They’re both intense, opinionated and determined; it’s easy to see how, when they met, they decided to work together. She ran the kitchen at the Red Water Grill, he worked at the PEI Brewing Company. Both had left busy careers in restaurants in Canada and the US for what they hoped would be a calmer life in PEI. Together with partner Brett Hogan, they decided to open Hopyard, a spot that played records, served craft beer and food to go with it.

The beer and the music took right off; what surprised many was the food. Far from just bar snacks, Hopyard’s food must be considered as some of the most creative and delicious in town.

As we chat, Crawford stops to consult a cook, Ross scans the room for to make sure everything is okay. The casual vibe is carefully crafted, just like the menu. All items as eight dollars; there’s something for the vegan, something for the carnivore.  What’s good? The menu changes every couple of weeks so the great food we had (Tijuana Samosas, Brussel Sprout Tacos, Del Toro Burrito) might be replaced next time around. Chef chooses a cuisine she wants to feature—I was truly sorry to have missed the peanut crusted fried chicken from the Deep South menu.

The focus right now is on Mexican food and with good reason. This summer, the partners will open a Mexican style cantina in the spot where Sirenella used to be. The bar will be stocked with many varieties of good tequila, the menu will feature Chef Jane’s take on tacos.

It’s clear, as the partners talk over each other to explain their plans, the new place (called the Sugar Skull after a Mexican talisman) will benefit from the same enthusiasm and skill that has made Hopyard so successful. A margarita, a taco, a patio? What’s not to like?

In the meantime, if you want to try some stunning food but aren’t into the bar scene, go at lunch. Take some friends and order lots to share. You will be sorry if Pad Thai Cauliflower is not on the menu. But you can drown your sorrows in a nice beer and something else that will be surprising and imaginative and delicious.

Old–fashioned

One Great Bite
by Ann Thurlow

I love the Black and White Grocery for these reasons: the wooden floor creaks, the groceries are stacked high on the shelf like an old-fashioned store, even if they are, to my eye, exotic and strange.

I don’t read Arabic, I know nothing of Syrian cuisine. I point to a bag of green, dusty dried fruit. Dried limes, the nice man tells me, good for rice and soup. I take a bag home and crush one lime in my hands. A bright, beguiling scent explodes.

I love, too, a place that can knock me for six this way. 

A good lesson

One Great Thing
by Ann Thurlow

Can this photo be a portrait if there is no face? It shows the model from the chin down. Without the telltale twinkle of the eye, the ironic tilt of the brow, we are left only to guess about the characters in Monica Lacey’s stark and luminous pictures. Or maybe the bright yellow dress tells us something; perhaps there’s a hint in the collection of things on the counter behind. Whatever—it’s a good lesson. These pictures remind us to always look around. They admonish us about glancing only at a face and jumping to conclusions.

Hidden Treasure

Kate the Spice Lady Café in Charlottetown

Chow
by Ann Thurlow

Kate Lee (The Spice Lady) with partner Simon Pullan (photo: Ann Thurlow)Kate Lee, aka The Spice Lady, is well known for the fresh and delicious herbs and spices she sells at her shop and at the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market. But something that was almost an afterthought—“hey, let’s sell soup and sandwiches, too”—has turned her little spice store into something even more special. Tucked away as it is behind the shops of St. Avard’s, going to this spot feels like a real find.

The first thing you notice when you walk in is the rich smell of spice. Then, underneath, something good cooking. Kate greets you and, through the window into the kitchen you spot her secret weapon—her life and business partner, Simon Pullan. He used to be a chef but got fed up with only working seasonally. So he became a carpenter and fix-it man. But when Kate realized she couldn’t handle cooking, serving and running the shop, she asked Simon nicely and the result turned out to be magic.

So what are you going to eat? Do not miss the cooler noodles, which is a sesame/noodle salad with marinated mushrooms and carrots. There’s macaroni and cheese (smooth and very cheesy). And marinated white bean salad. With a few exceptions, like the noodles and the swiss tomato and sprouts sandwich, the menu changes all the time. Simon likes to be inspired by what’s on hand—the last time we were there, the specials included an open-faced ham melt on focaccia or calzone with meat or with vegetables. In fact, a vegetarian could eat pretty well here. The soups include a spicy lentil or baked beans as well as a chicken stew with dumplings. 

The food is all delicious and beautifully presented (always with an herb breadstick) and very both comforting and inspiring. But truly, the star of the show is the sweet little place itself. It’s full of art and funky decorations. There are just sixteen seats (well, seventeen if you count the big arm chair) but set up so you can enjoy your lunch with a happy crowd or as a romantic tete a tete. Or there’s take out, if you absolutely must.

Kate the Spice Lady is at 25 St. Peter’s Rd.—behind Butcher and Butcher. Lots of free parking.

Totally local

Submitted by Ann Thurlow

Finding a wide variety of locally grown or produced foods has never been easier than it is right now on PEI. Of course, at one point, all anyone could get was local food. But variety? Not so much.

Some credit the Food Network. Others the influx of new residents to PEI or clever and dedicated business people. Whatever the reason, we are looking for new kinds of food and willing to expand our definition of “local.” And some clever people are taking a look at the foods that grow right here and figuring out some great things to do with them.

The products from Heatherdale Wholesome Goods are so obvious that a person might be tempted to say “why didn’t I think of that?” But you didn’t and they did and, as a result, we have locally grown and processed canola oil and oatmeal. These are not instant oats or flavourless oil—they are the real, nutritious deal. People used to grocery store canola will find the oil more flavourful and heavier. But you can learn to use less and reap additional nutritional benefits. The company has also just come out with packaged pumpkin seed snacks, a very delicious alternative to storm chips. Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, are also staples in Mexican and Middle Eastern cuisines. Heatherdale products are available at the Riverdale Country Market and the farmer’s markets in Charlottetown and Summerside, the Turning Point in Montague and a number of other sites; check their website.

Once pita bread was considered an exotic thing and that’s hard to remember. Because now pita is considered a staple. So it’s great to learn that it’s now made right here in PEI and that eating fresh pita is like having it for the first time. The Royal Pita Bakery was opened recently by a couple who are originally from Lebanon. They missed the authentic taste of real pita. This bread—which comes in both white and whole wheat—is soft and pliant and full of flavour. You can taste how fresh it it and that’s a remarkable thing. The bread is available from the bakery at 159 John Yeo Drive, which is by Kent Building Supplies on Malpeque Road and, increasingly, from local retailers.

If you aren’t vegetarian, you may not be familiar with tempeh and that would be too bad. It’s a fermented soy bean product—which may not sound delicious—but actually is. It’s nutty, mushroomy flavour makes it a good meat substitute and it takes well to spices and marinades. Plus it’s stunningly good for you. Again, it’s the sort of thing you used to have to get off-Island. Now the lovely ladies at Heart Beet Organics are making it here, from organic soybeans from Drew Jeffrey’s farm. They sell their tempeh at their booth at the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market. This will be great news to tempeh lovers or to anyone who wants to add more plant based protein to their diet.

Really, it’s kind of remarkable to step back and realize the wide variety of foods that we make here now. It took some imagination, it took some local heroes. But it feels a lot more like self-sufficiency and that’s never a bad thing.

Snappy and green

One Great Bite
by Ann Thurlow

My summer-loving heart is an unguarded fortress these days. I long for nothing more than food that is snappy and green and anything fresh will do. In August, I might dismiss a cucumber as an unnecessary adornment. But now it is the very quintessence of all I long for. I’m not just settling for its bright flavour—I crave it. Remember when the idea of a local hothouse cucumber was considered nutty? Now they are commonplace. And, in bleak March, they are as welcome as a warm, sunny day. 

How I learned to cook: Craig Dauphinee

Submitted by Ann Thurlow

Ann asks Craig Dauphinee—Hotel General Manager, Princess Cruises, formerly instructor at The Culinary Institute, chef at Sim’s for his cooking story.

“I learned to love cooking from my grandmother, Edith. She worked as a pastry chef at an inn just outside Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. She was famous all over the county for her pies.

One summer she wanted to take a vacation but her boss wouldn’t let her because there would be no one make pies. So she made a hundred of them and he let her have the time off.

She came from a generation where you always had to have food in the house for guests. So even if she wasn’t at work she was always, always cooking. My brother and I used to go to Gran’s after school and there was always something good to eat. That was my inspiration.”

Events Calendar

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Some Upcoming Events

Jimmy Rankin shows

November 22 at Trailside Café
November 23 at Harbourfront Theatre Jimmy Rankin's new Moving East (o [ ... ]

Hip Hop at Holland College

Snak the Ripper and others at Florence Simmons September 22
Florence Simmons Performance Hall   [ ... ]

Musical theatre blues

On the Road with Dutch Mason starring John Connolly Select dates to September 22
The Mack The “Pr [ ... ]

Recent News & Articles

Drawing the line

Profile: Sandy Carruthers by Jane Ledwell Retired for a year now after twenty-five years teaching  [ ... ]

Free transportation at Cloggeroo

The provincial government will sponsor free transportation at this year’s Cloggeroo festival to he [ ... ]

Charlottetown’s Historic Squares exhibit...

The City of Charlottetown Planning and Heritage Department has created an exhibit exploring the hist [ ... ]