I was beyond thrilled when I was invited by Canadian Lentils to beautiful Prince Edward Island to experience Food Day Canada with Chef Michael Smith, Anita Stewart, and other amazing Canadian foodies, writers, contest winners and their family and friends on August 4th, 2012. My 48-hour adventure filled with fresh Malpeque oysters, delicious lobster, Saskatchewan grown lentils, and Prince distilled potato vodka was well worth the 16 hours of flying time. The entire trip was amazing in every way—from enjoying fresh seafood on a boat with Chef Michael, to eating Canadian grown organic vegetables and herbs that we picked ourselves, to sipping wine and talking food, motherhood and life with Canada's star foodie and Food Day Canada pioneer herself, Anita Stewart.
As I was warmly greeted by the gals from Canadian Lentils at the Charlottetown airport on Friday August 3rd, I was feeling intense hunger pangs after flying for 8 hours. Luckily, one of these friendly ladies announced that our first stop before heading to our Inn was going to be Sims Corner Steakhouse and Oyster Bar for dinner. We drove to the main drag where Sims was located and enjoyed an amazing dinner of oysters, fresh fish and local beer while getting acquainted. Jamie Drummond, a talented and hilarious Sommelier and food blogger who was also invited on this trip, was the only gentleman with us. He kept us laughing all evening and somehow convinced me to give PEI oysters a try. I had tasted oysters before, however did not particularly enjoy them. Maybe it was the texture... the smell... I'm not sure what it was, but I was definitely hesitant to try them again. Well, thank you Jamie for giving me the courage to try them again! These were amazing—the freshest, tastiest oysters I have ever had and probably will ever have.
We then started our hour-long journey to the Inn At Fortune Bay where we had the pleasure of staying and where Chef Michael Smith got his culinary start.
We enjoyed breakfast on the patio at the Inn the next morning and then met Chef Michael, his son Gabe, his talented culinary team, the winners of the Love Your Lentils Food Day Canada contest, and other Canadian media representation. We were guided through the Inn's organic herb and vegetable garden where Gabe munched his way through as we learned how everything was grown. These herbs and veggies are used in dishes at the Inn as well as in Chef Michaels home test kitchen. By the way, he lives a mere 2 minute drive away from where we were staying!
We then piled into a few cars and headed to another organic farm, Fortune Organics, where we gathered crisp carrots, luscious lettuce and aromatic dill for our meal.
From there, we made a quick stop at The Prince Edward Distillary where we had the chance to sample PEI vodka and gin (which we used for our Gin and Tonic's later). It is important to note that the vodka was particularly nutritious as it was made from potatoes. Ok, maybe nutritious is a stretch, but it's an interesting tidbit, right?! This is me sampling some vodka straight from the still.
We all hopped on a boat and toured the beautiful surrounding waters picking up fresh oysters, which were shucked and topped with Bloody Mary Sorbet by Chef Michael. My love for PEI oysters flourished after sampling these. We then picked up fresh lobster, feasted on steamed mussels and enjoyed yummy G and T's as we watched Michael and Gabe jump off the top of the boat in the water. Had I brought my suit, I would have been in that water with them!
We were greeted by fiddlers as we docked and were treated to a true Canadian feast full of nutritious Saskatchewan lentils, fresh PEI seafood and organic produce. The hospitality was incredible and every last thoughtful detail was noted, from the colorful lentil-filled vases, to the edible flower arrangements on top of the salads.
After getting our fill of food, heat, and the signature Canadian beverage that Chef Michael created on the spot called the "Lentail," we decided to head back to the Inn and take a nap before dinner.
Anita Stewart, who started Food Day Canada back in 2003 in support of Canadian agriculture and cuisine, joined us for dinner at the Inn that night. Unfortunately, she missed the festivities during the day due to a delayed flight out of Halifax. None the less, she celebrated the day in an airport, following tweets about Food Day celebrations across Canada and sipping Tim Hortons Coffee in true Canadian style. I felt honoured that she shimmied seats to sit beside me at dinner to talk food, nutrition and motherhood near the end of the night. What an inspiring woman! Here's a picture of Anita Stewart (left), two contest winners, the Food Editor for Readers Digest Val Howes and me the next morning at breakfast.
My trip to PEI for Food Day Canada was fantastic—it was a true honour to be surrounded by such inspiring people, such beautiful surroundings and such wonderful Canadian food. I have truly gained an even greater appreciation for our amazing Canadian cuisine because of it.