Some of my favourite Island food discoveries of the year
by Ann Thurlow
It is the time of year when our thoughts are supposed to turn to old friends who are dear to us etc. In my case, though, it is the time of year when my thoughts turn to great things I’ve eaten over the past twelve months. And, of course, food is always better if shared. So here goes.
Duck prosciutto—Prosciutto is an Italian style of curing meat and duck is, well, the best food ever. And if you go to Butcher and Butcher, the great little meat shop on St. Peter’s Road, you can find this luxurious treat. It’s not cheap—but it doesn’t take much to make you swoon.
Crepes—The Kettle Black in Charlottetown has started serving crepes and they are delicious. You can pick your own ingredients, sweet or savoury—though I suppose no one will stop you from having strawberry and mushroom if you want. Try to sit next to the crepe station—the smell of the batter hitting the warm grill is a pleasure all on its own.
Open Eats—This great spot on Water Street in Summerside floored me the first time I went. Wonderful space, friendly service and really good food. The challenges of creating that food are enormous—no real kitchen, for a start. But that has made them resourceful and inventive and the results are well worth a visit.
Grapes—I have bought and eaten PEI grapes before. But I’ve never seen them so prolific as this year. And sweet and delicious? Yes ma’am. I bought some (what I took to be) Concord grapes from the lovely Arlington Orchard store and had to rush right back for seconds. And thirds, if I’m honest. Tuck this away for next fall—something to look forward to.
Receiver Coffee Pop-up—Every once in a while, the people at Receiver hang up their plaid shirts and turn their hands to fine dining. I know that I am late to this particular party; I believe they started last year. The theme this November was “fall harvest” and the chefs took the very humblest of ingredients—kale, potatoes and pumpkins—and turned them into something lush. Five courses included mussels in potato cream, pumpkin gnocci and potato donuts. (Note to Receiver: sell these all the time). A remarkable meal in a cozy setting.
Cheese curds—Curds are the solid part of curdled milk, which does not sound delicious at all. But it is! So delicious, in fact that they’re hard to share. I don’t know when The Cheese House in Mont Carmel started making their Squeakies (so called because they squeak on your teeth) but I found them this fall at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market and having been eating them ever since.
Pain au Chocolat—a really good bread roll with a tiny piece of dark chocolate inside. Get ‘em warm from John Dale’s great Breadworks or take them home and warm them up just a little in your own oven.