Summer days are idyllic on Prince Edward Island. With multiple fresh catch of the day options and vegetables and fruit ripening in the garden patches, it’s every foodie’s dream to experience the many flavours of this island’s bounty.
For chef Michael Smith of The Inn at Bay Fortune and chef Hunter Guindon of The Table Culinary Studio, celebrating what this island is harvesting from the sea and red soil is something they’re happy to share with diners. Each dining experience offers unforgettable tastes, showcasing the freshest ingredients from their friends and neighbours and the ability to offer quintessential island cuisine.
FireWorks Feast, The Inn at Bay Fortune, Souris
A 15-room inn lovingly renovated by Chastity Smith after she and her husband chef Michael Smith became owners in 2015, The Inn at Bay Fortune’s seasonal lure is the FireWorks Feast.
Guests gather on the inn’s sweeping front lawn, welcomed by farm manager Kevin Petrie for a tour of the farm gardens and greenhouses, earthy and herbaceous scents greeting us as we walk past rows of plants. As the farm tour ends, the new outdoor farm bar is serving wine and caesars, the inn chefs preparing for Oyster Hour.
Chef Michael officially welcomes us to the feast with the star of the show: Bay Fortune oysters, roasted with butter or fresh shucked and topped with a slurry of Bloody Mary ice. Crowding in to slurp the salty bivalves, we also sample from the other outdoor tasting stations featuring grilled beef and cauliflower tacos with mole sauce, sustainably-sourced smoked salmon and grilled pork on skewers, finished with herbs and honey.
Chef Michael brings us to the front lawn to give thanks and offer gratitude for bringing us together before we sit inside to watch the action unfold. The team has congregated at the main counter, working in unison to begin service.
Fresh out of the oven bread is served on a handcrafted metal tree with pate and two types of herb butters, followed by a silky seafood chowder (or hearty chicken soup for those allergic to shellfish), and then an artfully-crafted plate swirled with steamed and pureed vegetables topped with a salad of sweet and bitter greens, flowers and popcorn, the flavours and textures showcasing the season. There are two options for a main–wild-caught halibut or slow-cooked brisket and flank steak, both served with vegetables and chanterelles. And at last, time for dessert: raspberry tarragon entremet with haskap berry sorbet and lemon verbena crepe with tarragon anglaise. And a final sweet taste– raspberry marshmallows, gently cooked over the open fire pit as guests finish the night under the stars, swapping stories of a meal to remember.
Chef’s Table, The Table Culinary Studio, New London
The kitchen party on Saturday nights at The Table Culinary Studio is all thanks to chef Hunter Guindon and his team of two chefs, with serving and hosting by chef Derrick Hoare and GM Christine Morgan. These five people seamlessly serve a room of 40 guests within the walls of a former United Church, the stained glass windows filtering light onto the tables.
All the ingredients used in the seven-course tasting dinner except two, are sourced from within 15 minutes of the kitchen explains chef Hunter, a welcome challenge to focus on island and Canadian ingredients. Derrick and Christine weave around the room as groups of friends and families toast to being together.
We start with an Island Gold oyster, topped with a frozen concoction of gin and tonic and rose, followed by Souris scallop ceviche, served with watermelon and jalapeno. The next course comes out of the garden: a chunky slice of green tomato breaded and fried on a swirl of housemade ricotta with dollops of black garlic. It’s then back to the sea with blue fin tuna tartare, a rare treat on island as most of the blue fin is shipped overseas. It’s topped with honey aioli and beach greens, foraged by chef the previous night, picking the delicate plants under the light of a cellphone flashlight.
There is a potato course, heirloom hasselback served with tomato red pepper coulis and herb aioli. The kitchen celebrates the overwhelming bounty of chanterelles on island in the sixth course, surrounding the butter-basted wild caught halibut with chanterelles and pureed chanterelles. The last savoury course is blue dot PEI striploin, served rare with vegetables and a potato puree, a luxe treat for foodies to have beef graded higher than prime.
The conversation in the room kicks up, the wine continues to flow, and everyone is feeling happily sated. But there’s one last taste from the kitchen, the sweet course: wild blueberry cake, raspberry cheesecake, meringue and blueberry-cherry jam. Then a round of applause for the team of five who have indulged all of our senses and left us happy and wanting more.
Reservations are mandatory for each dining experience, and both are offered seasonally. Menus are seasonal and can change daily/weekly, but the source of the meals will always be 100 per cent Prince Edward Island.
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