A trip to Prince Edward Island is bound to include the perennial favorites of potatoes and seafood - classics that seem to get better with each new recipe and combination. Farming and fishing make up two of the major industries on the island and the relative isolation from the mainland ensures a plateful of the freshest locally sourced food available. The emphasis on quality foods is so pronounced that our little PEI has become a destination for foodies, an attribute celebrated at the mouth-watering culinary events that that are held here. Not sure what to eat when you get here? If everything isn’t an option, explore some of these flavours and creations that the island has to offer.

 

Famous Fresh Ingredients 

 

It’s fresh ingredients, produce and proteins like these that earn Prince Edward Island the moniker ‘Canada’s Food Island’: 

 

Lobster

lobster prince edward island© Tourism PEI / Stephen Harris

The two main seasons for this PEI staple run May through June and August until October – although the popular delicacy can be found year-round at most restaurants. Celebrate one of the oldest industries on the island by enjoying a savoury lobster supper offered at many restaurants and community events. Even get up close with Charlottetown's Top Notch Charters, allowing you to become an official lobster fisherman (or woman!) for a day!

 

Clams

giant clam dig©Tourism PEI / Stephen Harris

It just isn’t a day on the island without an afternoon of digging clams followed by an old-fashioned clambake on the shore. Ask a local for the best spots, then grab your spade and start shoveling sand to uncover the tastiest soft-shelled, razor, bar and quahog clams you’ve ever eaten. Better yet, have an Islander show you how it's done! Hit up Victoria by the Sea for a kayak trip featuring a clam dig on a sand bar. Travellers on a tight schedule can sample the succulent bivalves at one of the seaside eateries that serve them up in more ways then you could imagine.

 

Oysters

oysters prince edward island©Tourism PEI / Stephen Harris

The wild-grown shellfish of Malpeque Bay is continually judged as one of the finest in the world for flavour and clean taste, with the “choice” grade having enough flavour and texture to be served whole on the half shell. An excellent opportunity to tong some oysters for yourself is Oysters a la Hardy, out in Malpeque Bay. Greeted as if family, you'll soon find your family eating oysters straight from the shell!

 

Fish

tuna fishinf pei©Tourism PEI / Berni Wood

A huge variety of fresh and saltwater species are caught on and around the island. Tuna weighing more than 1,000 pounds have been pulled out of North Lake on the eastern part of the island and mackerel are abundant off the shores. And of course, Atlantic salmon can be angled in five principal streams alongside trout, perch, smelt and eels.

 

Mussels

mussels©Tourism PEI / Dave Brosha

Rich and delicious, PEI mussels are often found on menus around the world. The naturally nutrient-rich environment and clear water around the island produce outstanding, grit-free mussels with exceptionally tender meat.  

 

Apples

apples pei©Tourism PEI / Stephen Harris

A favourite activity in late August, the 14 varieties of apples at Wintermoor Orchard attract hundreds of visitors wanting to pick their own apples for fresh-pressed cider. A trip down to the orchard includes the history of each variety and a chance to sample what’s ripening on the branch.


Potatoes

Potatoes© Tourism PEI / Stephen DesRoches

Most people think of the potato as a flavourless side dish, good for holding butter and not much else. That is, until they taste a PEI potato. The humble crop has been cultivated on the island since the late 1700s by some 330 potato growers on family farms. The billion dollar industry provide one third of all potatoes across Canada and the red, iron-rich soil produces what may just be the perfect spud. Looking for a bit more history on the classic crop? The Canadian Potato Museum will be happy to host you and your questions!


Blueberries

blueberries prince edward island© Tourism PEI / Stephen Harris

These delightful bursts of flavour grow wild on the island and harvesters of the berries are dedicated to protecting the resource and environment that produce a fruit far superior to those grown on southern farms. Eaten by the handful or strewn over ice cream, PEI blueberries are the taste of summer for many that come to the island.

 

Don’t Miss these Home-Grown Culinary Concoctions

 

terre rouge©Tourism PEI / Stephen Harris - at Terre Rouge Craft Kitchen


Prince Edward Island is home to a population of artisan makers. With an abundance of fresh ingredients to play with, the province boasts plenty of unique, home-grown specialties. 

 

Cheese

Take a tour through Cows Creamery to see how some of the best cheese in the world is made. Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar is bandage-wrapped in a traditional method and the wheels are aged in the Cheese Cave for at least one year before it’s ready to eat. Their Clothbound Cheddar wins awards yearly and is described as having a complex flavour with notes of toasted nuts and fruit.  

The Appletree Smoked Cheddar is smoked for eight hours using apple wood to create a full, smoky flavour that compliments the full-bodied taste of the two-year-aged Extra Old Cheddar. Both the Extra Old and Appletree Smoked Cheddars have won their share of awards and all three styles travel well if you decide to take some home.

Let's not forget about Chef McGourt's gouda cheese either! Available in 15 varieties, it's easy to be overwhelmed by all of this PEI gouda. Pick some up while you're there and order more online through their website after, but also make sure to try the pizza!

Chocolate

Satisfy that sweet tooth with fresh, handmade chocolates from Anne of Green Gables Chocolates, happily sold in several stores around the island. Tempt your taste buds with chocolate caramels, mint truffles, creams, ginger chocolate, almond bark or their newest indulgence - Cow Chips, which are delicious PEI potato chips drenched in creamy milk chocolate. If you can’t manage to keep the box closed after you’ve left the store, they offer the option to ship to your house so you can enjoy the excellent chocolates when your trip is over.

 

Honey

The family-owned Honeydew Apiaries has over 200 hives filled with busy bees producing honey at an amazing pace. The honey is fresh and delicious, but don’t stop there! Try some of the award-winning mead, sweet-scented candles or tasty lip balm. The honey is sold from a cute little self-serve stand that is everything you’d expect from an island apiary.

 

Preserves and Purees

Owned by the granddaughter of the original founder,  J.J. Stewart sells sauces and preserves that stem from a long line of island recipes. The wild blueberry sauces are unique blends for sweet barbecues, spicy spreads and oh-so-amazing wild blueberry maple syrup. Strawberry, raspberry and of course, blueberry preserves go well with everything from toast to pudding and aren’t too bad eaten right out of the jar with a spoon, either.  

PEI Berries make a puree from wild blueberries using the whole fruit for extra antioxidants and all the goodness of fresh blueberries. Thicker than a simple juice, the puree can be used for ice cream, yogurt, salad dressing, smoothies or a sauce for cooking. Check their website for recipes and suggestions.

 

 DIY -ways to Explore Canada’s Food Island

 

Are you a foodie keen on independently eating your way through Prince Edward Island? Time to get hands-on experience, while taking some cues from the locals.

 

Farmers’ Markets

famrers market prince edward island©Tourism PEI / Emily O'Brien

There are only two that run consistently, one in Charlottetown and the other in Summerside. Both run every Saturday and have a wide array of fresh produce, locally prepared foods and arts & crafts from community artisans. Special note: during summer the Charlottetown Farmers' Market is also open Wednesdays. 

 

Holland College Boot Camp

Holland College Boot Camp©Tourism PEI / Stephen DesRoches

This isn’t one of those run-laps-until-you’re-exhausted boot camps; the offerings here are all about food! Ten themed classes enhance the culinary aspects of PEI life and have quickly become one of their “must do” experiences. Not only are the boot camps taught by expert chefs from the Culinary Institute of Canada, they also provide interaction with award-winning chefs making each day is a unique experience.

The “Island Flavours” boot camp is one of the best for first time visitors that appreciate the full farm-to-table experience. Boot campers start the day at the market selecting local ingredients for the day’s meal, while getting fun lessons on the importance and taste of the finest ingredients. The day ends with the incredible meal created by the attendees.

“Thrills on the Grill” is another favourite, using flavours from around the island to create sumptuous meals that are cooked on the grill. Participants also get a copy of the day's recipes for recreating the experience at home later. There's even an option to keep the kids busy, too!

 

The Table Culinary Studio

What better place to create a community feel than a beautiful old church complete with stained glass and a panoramic view from the original pulpit?  Classes include the history and importance of each local ingredient along with island stories and some traditional PEI recipes.

Get in touch with the island at the Farm to Table class, which includes a visit to a farm where you pick your own vegetables right out of the ground. Dinner is focused on the produce you’ve selected with assistance from the pros at the studio.  

Seafood lovers learn about the local lobster when they join the fishermen at the harbour and talk about the life of a fisherman. A lobster dinner follows the day at the harbour along with discussions of the importance of lobster to the island. If lobsters aren’t your thing, the studio offers other classes that focus on mussels, oysters, scallops and the world-famous tuna from North Lake.

 

Take in a Lobster Boil

lobster boil©Tourism PEI / Yvonne Duivenvoorden

A pot of seawater is one of the best and easiest ways to prepare the delicious lobster caught around PEI. To make the most out of dinner, get a huge pot, some firewood, a stretch of beach and a bunch of friends. Many places along the shore allow fire pits and nothing is tastier than a lobster pulled hot from the pot, eaten while the waves crash and the sun sets.


Go on a Giant Bar Clam Dig

giant clam dig©Tourism PEI / Stephen Harris

Digging for clams is a very island thing to do, especially when it’s just a part of the day’s adventure. Plan a dig with Perry Gotell and you’ll travel by boat to the shores of an uninhabited island where bar clams congregate on a small sandbar. Perry steams your clams as you wander the beaches, before ending the day with a lesson on the different types of seafood harvested around the island and a visit to a crabbing pot, mussel sock and lobster trap.

 

Sit Back and let Someone Else Cook

cook chef pei©Tourism PEI / Dave Brosha

Sit back, sip the wine and let Canada’s Food Island chefs showcase the best of coastal dining.

 

Local Restaurants

dining©Tourism PEI / Stephen Harris

Most seafood spots sell fresh, local harvest and some even have their own clam beds or mussel socks. Shipwright’s Cafe and Chef’s Pantry feature local ingredients and has been named as one of the top 100 restaurants in Canada. Of course, you’ll need to try some island beef at the Dunes Cafe or savour a seasonal meal at Mavor’s Restaurant and Bar.

The Inn at St. PetersThe Inn at St. Peters

The Inn at St. Peters adds produce from their own gardens and other ingredients provided by local farmers. For our clean eaters, FireWorks features an entirely homegrown organic menu, complete with oyster bar and 7 p.m. feast overlooking the Bay Fortune. Remember to top off any meal with distinctive drinks from Deep Roots Distillery, using local ingredients for PEI-inspired liqueurs and spirits.

Sample Acadian Cuisine

Traditional fare is often combined with other styles of cuisine to create regional versions of everyone’s favourite recipes. The traditional meat pie can be more of a meat-filled biscuit that is eaten by hand or a delicious dish made with PEI potatoes and poultry. The fish pancakes are sometimes made with crab and lobster. Rich stews known as fricot vary in seasonings and are made with almost any type of meat, including clam. Poutine râpée has become so engrained in Canadian culture that it’s often included in fast food menus and restaurants alike, such as Pizza and Poutine in Charlottetown.


Follow a PEI Flavours Trail

Not sure where to go to find the best local food experiences? There are five itineraries that lead you to some of the best places to stop on the island including distilleries, dessert and fine dining. Explore the island one eating experience at a time along the foodie trail!


Go Mobile: Food Trucks

Craving some fried chicken and waffles?  There’s a food truck for that!  A growing industry in PEI, food trucks bring variety and often ethnic foods in an inexpensive and efficient way.  Try Hush Puppy for that fried chicken or Thai Pad for some Thai noodles, right in Charlottetown. Montague’s Fun on a Bun specializes in fish in chips and Summerside’s The Galley by Chef Norman is a bit like gourmet fast food using local ingredients.

 

Events Plated Around Food 

mussels©Tourism PEI / Dave Brosha

As if just serving fabulous food wasn’t enough, PEI actually celebrates its amazing cuisine with different festivals throughout the year.  

Fall Flavours Festival brings salivation to September with celebrity chefs highlighting island traditions and tastes. Many events are participatory – ever harvested oysters? – and the exclusive menus pair local beers and wine with the freshest feasts created just for the event.

International Shellfish Festival calls itself the “Biggest Kitchen Party in Atlantic Canada” and brings together good music, great friends and, of course, the best shellfish. This September event includes demonstrations by celebrity chefs, cookbook signings, live competitions and, oh yes, amazing food.

Summers in Summerside are for eating lobster at the Lobster Festival, running in the third week of July. Festival goers are looking forward to this year’s parade, triathlon and demonstrations by local artisans not to mention the kids’ events, free concerts and lots of lobster.

Although announcements have not yet been made, islanders are hopeful for the return of the Beach Clam Jam in Evangeline Region and Porktoberfest, honouring the island hog producers.

 

 

 
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