Prince Edward Island
"There's such a lot of different Annes in me." Oh, yeah, that's 11-year-old Anne Shirley, orphan-heroine of
Anne of Green Gables.
But her beloved
Prince Edward Island
could say the same about itself.
Like Anne, it's small-the smallest of Canada's provinces and territories. But it's not sneaky-pretty like Anne. In summer sun, PEI is staggeringly beautiful, its rolling green hills dotted with dairy cows, its beaches shining like mica. You
golf in the spike prints of Nicklaus,
cycle the 270-km (168-mi)
Confederation Trail route
, explore cliffs as red as Anne Shirley's hair. You remind yourself all the while that this is where, for Canada proper, it all began-it was in the capital of
Charlottetown, in 1864, that the first meeting was held to discuss merging the three
Maritime provinces that would form the nucleus of Canada.
But if PEI is about any single thing now, it's eating. Oh sure, it was ever thus, in the sense that visitors to the island have never left hungry (stuffed with mussels and potatoes and cheese and lobster). But this is different. Now islanders are eating, as celebrity chef
Michael Smith put it, the "high-falutin' food of chefs from away."
Since the completion of
Canada's longest bridge, linking PEI to the
mainland, off-island goods flow freely, so foreign ingredients are easily at hand. But increasingly, there's an effort to grow those high-falutin' foods in situ. These are ingredients with people's names attached: Becky Townsend's organic greens; Bruce McNaughton's soon-to-be-famous jams. Prince Edward Island now has a
boutique winery, artisanal cheese, heirloom-potato growers, butchers selling organic meats, a craft brewery. And oh yeah: the
world's best ice cream.
So to go is to gorge: it's the law. Lie groaning atop the picnic blanket and spend the rest of the day digesting. Don't move "until twilight drops her curtain down and
pins it with a star."
PEI in a nutshell:
· Suggested slogan: "You'll come for Anne, you'll stay for mussels in a pan."
· Native daughters and sons: bobsledder
David (Eli) MacEachen, golfer
Lori Kane, poet
Milton Acorn, writer
Lucy Maud Montgomery
· Sneaky local meals: Lobster lunch, with tricolour coleslaw and sticky date pudding at
Dalvay by the Sea; mussels in bourbon and kumquat sauce at
· Local tipple: PEI-style
· Must not miss:
Fall Flavours Festival (September). Also in September: the
PEI International Shellfish Festival.
· Tourist destination: the Green Gables farmhouse in
· Anne of Green Gables
· P.E.I.'s Famous Shellfish: Digging for Dinner in Central Bedeque
· Prince Edward Island's Culinary Food Traditions
· Les traditions culinaires de l'Île-du-Prince-Édouard
Courtesy of Canadian Tourism Commission
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