Rishi Sankar: Ah Trini Travelogue

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Archive for the ‘Prince Edward Island’ Category

What to do in PEI #4 : Go find a ridiculous PEI Mailbox!!!

Posted by Rishiray on August 4, 2014

In all our driving here in PEI over the last two summers, it seems that people love putting up strange and unique mailboxes. For instance, on our way to North Cape yesterday, we happened to see this giant PEI mailbox.

It looks like Majo could fit inside the mailbox

I do love Don Murphy’s glamourshot for his ad though!!

Here’s another set of classic mailboxes

This was on our way back from Souris. These people change his clothing with the season!

As we’ve travelled over the island I’ve realized that people take tremendous pride in their lawns. There are houses and farms with very unique and interesting spreads that range from amazing flower displays, hand made bird feeders to lighthouse mailboxes protected by concrete gargoyles.

There are also farms with super creepy scarecrows … especially those in the middle of nowhere. However far you drive in PEI, you’ll always find something great on people’s lawns here.

How many buoys do you count here?


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What to do in PEI #3 : Have Lunch on Spinnakers Landing

Posted by Rishiray on August 4, 2014

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If you’re heading to the North Cape lighthouse, you’re probably going to drive through Kensington and Summerside on the “2” (2 refers to the highway and a lot of Islanders will refer to the highway number rather than the proper name which the Veterans Highway). If you happen to be driving on a Sunday, many restaurants will be closed in Summerside but those at Spinnakers Landing will definitely be open during the summer.

It’s very similar to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco with the layout, accessibility and feel.

Since we were there for lunch, we intended to head over to the Deckhouse Eatery and Pub but I happened to see the Mussel Shack. I really can’t pass up any place that has mussels, especially as finding mussels cooked differently from the traditional “Au Natural” style here will take some finding.

What did catch me initially was the red building itself. I don’t why the red stands out so prominently but it makes the building look very inviting. Of course, the mussel flavors were what made me order …

I had to try the “El Diablo” …

They have a great patio and you can get a nice shot of the other shops in Spinnakers’ Landing. The builders modeled Spinnakers’ Landing after an old fishing village … I don’t know how many fishing villages look like this but the bright pastel colors are definitely a Maritime thing, since you’ll see the same colours in St. Johns, NF or Halifax, NS.

As for the snacks, I was very happy with my “El Diablo” mussels. It wasn’t hot at all but definitely quite nice with the julienned carrots and tons of garlic. Definitely a repeat for me and I’ll have the other flavours next week (sans the butter of course)

After the Mussel Shack, we wandered along the boardwalk and through some of the little shops.

After my initial snack, it was then over to the Deckhouse Eatery and Pub. I’ll have to be honest as I always am, I wasn’t impressed with the food or the service. I’ve come to expect slower service here in PEI, but I have come to also expect very generous portions to compensate for the slower service. This wasn’t the case with the meal.

In all, our party of five had the following

  • Spiced Onion Ring (Decent)
  • Caesar Salad (Decent)
  • Quesadillas  (A very basic chicken quesadilla)
  • Two portions of Fish & Chips (The fish was very overdone and the fries were just poor. I’ve come to expect very good fries in PEI and this was just sad)

As a F’n’C lover, it was hard for me to stomach the overbattered, burnt Fish. They did have a very nice Tartar sauce though, but it definitely wasn’t a Maritime portion

I like my fried fish with fish, not a ton of batter and breading

Overall the meal there was highly, highly average but they did have nice views of Spinnakers’

So the Deckhouse was just another tourist joint. It was packed for lunch time, but I wouldn’t go back immediately. The next time I’m at Spinnakers’, I’ll definitely raid the Mussel Shack.

Twitter :

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What to do in PEI #2 … Go on an epic PEI Fries tour

Posted by Rishiray on August 1, 2014

PEI is known for many things …

  • Anne of Green Gables
  • Rolling hills and pastures right out of an Irish countryside
  • Cows Creamery
  • Malpeque Oysters and ….
  • Potatoes

Here’s a great note from the PEI Potato Board …

Just as connoisseurs of fine wine say they can taste the soil in which the grapes are grown, the Prince Edward Island potato has a flavour that is unique because of the Island’s rich red soil. If you could visualize the perfect place for growing potatoes, it would be Prince Edward Island. The Island’s rich sandy soil, clean air and water, and its long cold winters that naturally cleanse the soil, provide the perfect environment for growing high quality potatoes. In addition, experience and adaptation of the latest growing, storing and shipping techniques have given Prince Edward Island growers the ability to deliver excellent quality potatoes.

Everyone loves Prince Edward Island potatoes and they are in demand around the world. Prince Edward Island is small, but its quality potatoes can hold their own in competition with the world’s best.

P.E.I. farmers have been producing potatoes for the world since 1790. Today, potatoes are P.E.I.’s primary cash crop. Potatoes account for more than one-third of the total farm cash receipts in the province, which is more than the combined value of all other Island crops. Prince Edward Island enjoys the reputation as Canada’s leading potato province, responsible for almost one-third of Canadian production.

In addition to the important Canadian market, seed and table potatoes are shipped to over 20 countries annually. Some customer countries are Venezuela, Italy, Ukraine, Portugal, and Thailand. While markets vary from year to year, over the past few years about 50% of our table potatoes have been sold in Canada, 20% have been marketed in the United States, and approximately 30% are sold to other countries.

When you’re in Charlottetown, there are a number of chip trucks around. Most of these are semi-permanent structures and over the course of the last month, I’ve tried 6-8 of them. I’ve not been disappointed with any of the chip trucks and I’ll definitely say that Charlottetown has some of the best fries/chips I’ve eaten in the world!! However with all the chip trucks I’ve tried so far, Ken’s Island Fries are definitely at the top of my list.

They aren’t kidding!!

They’re located in the parking lot of Walmart across from the Charlottetown Shopping Center. It’s not the classiest of places, but when you’re looking for good food, you don’t care where it is. A great rule of thumb … when you see old ladies sitting on benches in the sun, eating fries and poutine, you know you’ve come to a good place.

This is not a complicated menu whatsoever … but the fries are awesome!!!!

Pictures can’t really describe the well done, slightly crispy fries … and definitely can’t truly describe the portion size. For 3.50$, you’re getting a heaping hot piles of oil fried spuds. The poutine is also ridiculous … as evidenced below.

This was my large portion with gravy … it’s bigger than my head

See the can of coke on the side … yeah … it dwarfs it!!!

So if you’re looking to start an epic PEI fries tour, Ken’s Island Fries will be a great start, but actually you should end with them or Wicked Fries, since I thought that these two are joint for the best we’ve had so far.

Ken’s Island Fries
1 Buchanan Drive, Charlottetown, PE C1E 2E4
Twitter @KensIslandfries

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What to do in PEI #1 … Go for a PEI Lobster Supper

Posted by Rishiray on August 1, 2014

In building our holiday “cottage” here in Prince Edward Island, we’ve had to take visitors around the island. One of the more well known activities here would be going to a traditional PEI Lobster Supper. I’ve been to the New Glasgow Lobster Supper a couple times as I’ve found that it’s consistent, the service is fast and very friendly and the drive to Hunter River allows me to stop at the “By the Bridge” bakery.

They have also have a great view of the Clyde River with the rolling hills that makes for a scenic drive.

In the summer, you’ll get a great view of the Clyde River and a very pretty sunset. Make sure and call to reserve the window tables.

The building itself looks a lot like a small town community hall and the decor reflects this. This is definitely not a fancy type atmosphere, so don’t bring your Sunday best out. While you’re waiting to seated, you can browse through the pictures on the walls showing the original buildings in great B&W perspective. You’ll also learn that lobster suppers have been served there since 1957 when the District Junior Farmers Organization first bought it for their meeting space. The meal for that first supper included hot buttery rolls, potato salad, homemade pie, and tons of fresh lobster.

When you get into the building, you’re greeted in an efficient manner and you pick your entrees. No matter what the entree option, you’ll always have unlimited soup, salad, mussels and pie. For my first time, I had the surf and turf … but at 50$, I thought it was a bit much, especially since I really want to go for the unlimited mussels.

And I really go to town on those mussels …

They bring out the mussels in 2 lb buckets … and I usually will clear out 3 buckets by myself … i.e 6 lbs of mussels!! I’ve learned to make my own mussel marinara by shelling two lbs of mussels into a small bowl of Tomato Basil soup with tons of black pepper and some extra salt. This is PEI, so the majority of the food you’ll have will be plain and barely seasoned with anything.

This was bucket #2 with all my mussels in my Tomato Basil soup. Excellent!!!

It is the food which is the real star at New Glasgow. The lobster is excellent and combined with all the unlimited mussels, dessert, soup and salad, you really cannot go wrong with this meal. In the last two weeks, we’ve been with family and friends twice, the lobster is also precracked for easy eating.

The lobster is definitely the star here

Our Irish waitress Catrina and Majo … the service was excellent … I do recommend having them put the bib on you, just for the camp value of it all.

The family and friends love it, and the kids had a great time as you can see 🙂

They have some great cole slaw there along with Potato Salad … once again … I crushed my plate!! I have no shame in ordering as much as I would like … you shouldn’t either

You can get Lobster Supper at many bars and pubs in PEI, but if you’re looking for the “traditional” Lobster Suppers, here’s a list of the PEI Lobster Suppers

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  • New Glasgow Lobster Suppers
    • This is PEI’s oldest running lobster supper … they’ve been serving lobster suppers since June 24, 1958. They have their own on premise lobster pond. All meals include unlimited rolls, seafood chowder, cultivated mussels, salad, desserts and beverages. Enjoy lobster, scallops, salmon, chicken, roast beef or baked ham. It’s also locally recommended by our friends in Stratford as the best Lobster Supper.
  • Cardigan Lobster Suppers
    • If you’re on the Eastern side of PEI, then Cardigan is your best bet, but they don’t offer the unlimited option that you can get at New Glasgow. For me, this would be a no-go because I love my mussels!!! However, they do have different options from New Glasgow
  • Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Supper
    • This is next on my list, since they proudly proclaim that they have the 60 ft salad bar. Any Lobster Supper where I can get all the mussels I want with Tabouleh and Hummus as sides, I’m going to beating a line to it.

    St Ann’s Church Lobster Supper

    • I’ve got to do more research on this Lobster Supper, but as they don’t claim to have unlimited everything, this isn’t going to be a priority stop along the way for me. The reviews on TripAdvisor are also a bit mixed which doesn’t give me the warm and fuzzies about it either.

When you’re all done with your Lobster Supper, you can stop off at the covered bridge and the Bakery alongside it

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Wednesday Photo Nights #23 : East Coastal Drive – Prince Edward Island

Posted by Rishiray on September 11, 2013

One of best things about Prince Edward Island is that you can take off for a super scenic drive at any point, while the weather is warm.
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Doing the Eastern Bays Discovery Drive (Cardigan to Rollo Bay) as part of the East Coastal drive from Charlottetown to Souris was about 2 hours, when considering the photo stops along the way. The Souris, Fortune and Boughton Rivers have created a series of bays separating woodlands, farms and coastlines.

Definitely can’t get better with the bales of hay close to the water at Midgell

St. Peter’s Bay United Church … The United Church in the Village of St. Peter’s Bay stands prominently on the St. Peter’s Road and overlooks the picturesque bay. The Gothic Revival style white church has a gable roof, a series of five pointed arch windows on each of its sides, and a unique three staged entrance tower designed in the New England style which culminates in a Wren-like circular spire. The registration includes the footprint of the building in 1886

Snow peas growing by the seashore …

The houses all reminded me of the classic TV series : Little House on the Prairie

At low tide, you can walk along the shores, hop on to the sandbars and go seashell hunting.

How about making some new friends with the Sandpipers … we definitely don’t have those in Trinidad.

Built in 1880, Souris East Lighthouse is a wood-constructed tower on Knight Point overlooking the town of Souris. Visitors can climb to the lantern room, walk out to the balcony, and discover the panoramic seascape views of the harbour and town of Souris. The lighthouse also houses an interpretive centre with the history of sea glass, the lighthouse, the port, and the Town of Souris.

St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church is a large Gothic Revival church built in cruciform shape with a medium pitched roof. The exterior walls are constructed almost entirely of Prince Edward Island sandstone – hence the red colour. The church is located on the north side of the Town of Souris overlooking the Souris River and was originally built in 1902 and rebuilt in 1930.

Who needs a plane, when you can go to New Zealand right here in Canada?

Super clear river water, pine trees and some very good light for photos … 😀

For some reason I never notice pine cones in Toronto, yet I loved seeing them in PEI!

I can’t even think about how much work this must me … even with machines

Closer ….

For some reason … these field remind me of the English countryside rather than PEI … go figure!

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Charlottetown Farmers Market in PEI

Posted by Rishiray on September 11, 2013

In Trinidad, we don’t have “Farmers’ Markets” … because all farmers sell their produce at the local markets. As a teenage, I wandered the Chaguanas Market and saw the friendliness, hustle and bustle. I was always guided by the list my mother gave me and little did I know, I was getting my first “foodie” experience, in being able to recognize produce, pick fruit and vegetables, be exposed to spices and get to sample all that is Trinidadian flavor. Where else could I sample Kutchela, eat a “Sno Cone” with Guava syrup, have two doubles and then head home for a late breakfast?
It’s because of these stories and experiences, that I have a special affinity for markets in general. In every new city I go to, I always put a market or two along with my list of historic buildings because you’ll always get a sense of a city by its markets. On my last visit to Prince Edward Island [aka PEI], we went to the Charlottetown Farmers Market. This is a year-round market that stays set up on Belvedere Street.
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Atlantic Canada is known for its super fresh produce, but I couldn’t honestly call it a culinary mecca … however the Farmers’ Market is the only place in PEI, where you can find more than half of the stalls selling “ethnic” food you  ranging in diversity from Shawarma, pierogies, Indian and Moroccan food to smoked salmon and freshly baked bread.

There are many local farmers who come out on a Wednesday or Saturday to sell at the Market. One can easily see that the vast majority of the produce isn’t your average chemically laced, inorganic, Monsanto GM type food, but rather honestly grown produce reflective of the real price of cultivation.

Like any market, your mileage will vary … for instance, I had a couple Samosas at the market and they were pretty poor and expensive Samosas …  but then again in the “Maritimes”, all ethnic food will cost you more … I call it the “non-competitive” tax … there isn’t that much diversity in this part of Canada, hence the “ethnics” who came here, get to charge what they want based on the market.

I LOLed at this sign … First time, I heard this! I always thought Beavertails would be a better Canadian snack!

I did have my fill of Canadiana though with some Sweet & Salty kettle corn with Fresh Apple Cider … damn that stuff is good. Along the way … we did have a bite of donair also …

Just like any market … if you’re going to visit on a weekend, prepare for the crowds. The nice thing about PEI is that there are quite a few markets in Summer … if you’re going to visit, I highly suggest you browse this list.

There will be some traffic, but you’ll always find parking though!

[box type=”shadow” align=”alignleft” ]Charlottetown Farmers’ Market
100 Belvedere Avenue, Charlottetown PEI
www.charlottetownfarmersmarket.com [/box]

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Meet George of Souris

Posted by Rishiray on August 25, 2013

Driving through PEI, we’ve seen a lot of very unique mailboxes along the way, in fact I was thinking about documenting “The Mailbox Trail” of PEI. We’ve seen so many unique mailboxes that I almost became a little “mailboxed out”, in the same way I’ve gotten “Templed out” in Cambodia and Thailand or “Waterfalled Out” in Iceland or “Ruined Out” in Guatemala, until I saw George of Souris!
George of Sourishad so much personality that I had to stop … he practically begged me to stop and take a pause on our East Coast drive from Charlottetown to Souris. He had such a pleasant, inviting yet strangely creepy smile … it was like he was casting a Maximón spell on me here in PEI. In fact, he reminded me a lot of Maximón without the surreal creepiness and folklore surrounding him at the same time.

Say Hello to George and Friend. I didn’t get the name of his Teddy Bear … I simply forgot!

He even has a Maximon mustache!


George can even pick up the ladies!

While trying to strike up a conversation with George, his friend/buddy and maker Joe MacPhee came by to say hi, make conversation and to alert me to the fact that the chair that George was sitting on was actually products he made for sale. I don’t know why I didn’t notice … but I think it had to do something with the fact that everyone sells old lobster traps on the side of the road. That being said, not every sells lobster traps chairs!

Lobster Trap Chairs = Mind Blown!!!

With that nugget of information, we spent the next 30 minutes going through Joe’s workshop and seeing some of his handiwork. Turns out that he’s a retired Lobster catcher (47 years he put into catching Lobsters … so I think he might know something about them) and he still makes the traps. However, it’s the old school Lobster traps that he makes into his chairs.

It takes a couple hours to make each of these chairs.

The chairs even have the holes in the net where the lobsters crawl through!

Here’s some more chairs stacked up. The chairs have a compartment in the back, where the lobster would be retrieved.

Here is Joe’s workshop where the magic happens!

Like any other master of the sea, Joe had to show us one of this trophies, which just happened to be a mounted 17lb Lobster that he caught. Joe reminded me of my own dad … so proud to tell his stories and show off his trophies … maybe that’s why I liked him so much. Joe took us to meet his wife Evelyn, who gave us the same look that my mom would give when my dad was telling one of his stories. I also figured that like my mom, Evelyn wouldn’t be a fan of George. Clearly she and George didn’t see “eye to eye” <Insert drum and comic rimshot>!

That’s one Giant Lobster!

Look at the size of that right claw … damn!!!!

On top of that, the MacPhee’s had a typically spectacular lawn and yard. I don’t know what it is in the Maritimes but everyone takes so much pride in their surroundings … I love it. If only, people in Trinidad took so much care of their surroundings.

If you’re wondering how you can buy Joe’s chairs … he doesn’t have a website, but you can always email Evelyn at emacphee@pei.sympatico.ca to inquire for more information. For us, we’re definitely buying a couple when we come back in late September to take possession of our new farmhouse in Stratford, PEI. After talking to George … he told us about a really nice church in Souris and some very pretty lighthouse. You get the idea below …

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Digging for Dinner : Going Clam Digging in PEI

Posted by Rishiray on August 22, 2013

I don’t know why it took me this long to get to Prince Edward Island or “PEI” but I love it there. It’s not the rolling hills, sand dunes, quiet beaches, excellent photography, great food or super friendly people that I instantly loved … it’s the fact that it reminds me of Trinidad in the late 80’s and 90’s … not the crime infested, over priced, impolite Trinidad of today.

PEI is Canada’s smallest province –  and before the Confederation Bridge was built a couple years ago, it was similar to Newfoundland in that it was separate and really took some effort to get there, unless you were flying in. I only knew of PEI because of its famous potatoes … all grown in the famously red, iron-rich soil that colors many of the beaches and cliffs. As an island, there are many little inlets, coves, beaches and salt marshes, all providing a great habitat for oysters, lobsters, clams, and mussels. In Toronto, I love going for oysters and the Malpeques from PEI are always expensive, because they’ve long been recognized as one of the world’s finest oysters. I’m not an oyster expert, but I’ve had lots of them, and the Malpeques are ridiculously good.

Combining this love of great seafood and an awesome cultural experience, we decided to sign up for “Digging for Dinner” organized by “Experience PEI” … here’s a list of activities that they currently do. Normally, I don’t like working for my food … but the idea of going out into the sea and digging for clams actually sounded like a great activity, coupled with the fact that we would get to cook up what we ate, definitely got me going. Also … who doesn’t love learning a new skill, especially for an activity that inevitably makes the resulting food far more delicious and that could feed you in a pinch.

Our guide, Ron Perry is a retired Principal, who has been digging for clams on PEI since his childhood and seemed to know everything about seafood around. Ron passed out pamphlets of information about the dig and about various types of clams found on the island, and we hopped back in our car to follow him to the dig site. Twenty minutes later we parked alongside a long, narrow spit of land jutting into the Northumberland Strait. We were at one of the island’s public clam digging areas, officially approved by the federal government after testing for potential contamination or other health issues. The sand was heavy with clay, red like the soil, and mottled with puddles from low tide, all perfect conditions for finding the clams we were after.

Once we all parked and ready, it was time to head in and start the digging with our shovels and forks. It’s actually a lot tougher than it looks and the scene after all the digging resembles a mini excavation site – but we were in search of those little pockets that were the tell tale signs of soft shelled clams.

Those soft-shelled clams are called such because of their thin and brittle shells, easily-broken by our shovels. Otherwise known as “longnecks” or “piss clams,” soft-shell clams are common on the tidal mudflats along the Western Atlantic, from Newfoundland south to Boston. Under the sand, each clam extends a siphon toward the surface, creating breathing holds that are visible from the surface, and when pressure is applied to the surrounding sand (like by a shovel or a boot), these siphons expel sea water (hence the “piss clams” moniker).

The plan was to dig for an hour … but really we got a couple dozen clams in less time than that. There is a size limit to the clams you can take because PEI conservation regulations permit a catch of up to 300 clams per person, limited to clams over two inches in size. It takes two to three years for clams to grow to this size, and undersized specimens can be tossed back onto the sand to dig back in and continue to grow. When we were done, Ron trudged into the shallow sea water to wash off our sand-covered clams, re-covering them with clean seawater in a bucket before leading us back to our cars.

We even managed to find some oysters. This was definitely going to be a great little cook up! Ron promised us a surprise … little did we know how awesome the surprise was going to be!

Since we were digging for our lunch, Ron took us to the Phantom Caboose to have our lunch. Yep … I’m not even kidding, we ended up having our clam cook out and lunch in a restored bright orange authentic 1940s Pacific Canada Railway caboose, owned by a friend of Ron’s.

Yep, you’re right … this is awesome!!!

So we prepped the clams, chopped the carrots, celery, onions, garlic and added a bottle of Keiths IPA… and it was pretty much off to the races with our clam pot and oysters! There was no secret to the boil, Ron let the clams boil for 8-12 minutes, then served us large bowls of clams and a smaller bowl for dipping.

Ron also had some Quahogs for us. If you don’t know what a Quahog is … well Diane’s reaction shot here is pretty epic! I happened to like them … but I don’t really get phased by food.
Quahog reaction
After the oysters and Quahogs, it was back to our clam pot, and the results were just awesome. I did find that eat the clams required some work, as I had to detach each one from the dark sheath of muscle in the shell and then dip it into my butter-less dipping sauce – but it didn’t matter since I still pounded down about 5 dozen or so. The clams themselves were incredibly flavorful – fresh, salty, sweet, and fishy. When you couple this with some fresh spring water, which just happened to be flowing from the river behind the caboose, you really couldn’t ask for a superior food experience.

Here is a video walkthrough

In the end, if you’re looking for an amazing culinary experience and a great story, I would easily recommend Ron and going to dig for your lunch, dinner or anything in between!

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