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Prince Edward Island bursts with fresh fall flavours

Prince Edward Island is bursting with fresh flavours and local tastes, and harvest season is the best possible time to eat and drink your way across the Island. - Photo Courtesy Tourism PEI / Heather Ogg.
Prince Edward Island is bursting with fresh flavours and local tastes, and harvest season is the best possible time to eat and drink your way across the Island. - Photo Courtesy Tourism PEI / Heather Ogg.

Prince Edward Island is bursting with fresh flavours and local tastes, and harvest season is the best possible time to eat and drink your way across the Island.

Markets are loaded with farm-fresh vegetables and fruits, local producers keep restaurants stocked with high-quality local meats and cheeses, and the seafood is always caught straight off the Island’s 1,100+ kilometres of coastline.

From five-star dining and world-class wines, beers, ciders and spirits to the very best in casual fare at off-the-beaten-path spots favoured by the locals, here’s a look at some of P.E.I.’s top food and drink experiences to try this fall ...

A TASTE OF EASTERN P.E.I.

Located right on the Brudenell River with a deck that provides sunset views 365 days a year, Wheelhouse in Georgetown serves up fish’n’chips made with locally-caught haddock, halibut cooked with lobster cream and mussels brought in fresh daily from local fishermen.

Even though oysters are plentiful in Eastern P.E.I., Wheelhouse in Georgetown operation manager Marion MacLean says they’re the area’s sole oyster bar, and they’re especially “amazing” during the month of September. Their sister food truck outside, Terry’s Berries (named for red seal Chef and the restaurant’s owner, Terry Nabuurs) is famous for its lobster melt.

“We just want to create a full-fledged Island experience for our guests, with an amazing glass of wine and a delicious meal made with the best the Island has to offer,” says MacLean. “Guests love sitting on our deck, overlooking the water and watching the sunset.”

September guests at the five-star Inn at Bay Fortune are enjoying hearty farmhouse suppers cooked with the best of their farm’s bounty and Chef Michael Smith’s creativity. Clam Diggers Restaurant & Beach House Pub in Cardigan is beloved for its fresh seafood dishes and breathtaking views of the ocean.

Rossignol Estate Winery in Murray Harbour is Prince Edward Island’s largest and longest-running winery, making a variety of red wines, white wines and fruit wines.

Double Hill Cidery products are only available on the Island, and their flagship wild apple cider, Nomad, won a silver medal at the New York International Cider Competition.

Double Hill Cidery products are only available on the Island, and their flagship wild apple cider, Nomad, won a silver medal at the New York International Cider Competition. - Photo Courtesy Double Hill Cidery
Double Hill Cidery products are only available on the Island, and their flagship wild apple cider, Nomad, won a silver medal at the New York International Cider Competition. - Photo Courtesy Double Hill Cidery

“There’s nothing more ‘terroir’ than our product because we only use wild apples that have been surviving on P.E.I. for centuries and have completely adapted to our climate and soil,” explains Double Hill Cidery owner/operator Sebastian Manago.

He considers them to be “more of a winery than a brewery,” selecting only the best wild apples to use in their proudly Canadian product.

“Bordeaux is one of the top wine-producing regions in the world, and we believe P.E.I. could be a top cider-producing region,” says Manago. “We’re making a world-class product right here in Eastern P.E.I.”

Over in Montague, Copper Bottom Brewing’s year-round offerings include

Centennial Stock, Rabble Rouser, Broadside, Flora and Parkman Ave. Just a few minutes uptown at Bogside Brewing, you can sample an assortment of beers, from light & crisp (Strawberry Sour) and hoppy (Tropical Storm) to dark (Paint it Black Jack), as well as ciders made with fresh Island flavours.

A TASTE OF WESTERN P.E.I.

Lone Oak Brewing Co. is just seconds off the Confederation Bridge in Gateway Village, and the craft brewery specializes in beers that are refreshing and easy to drink. - Photo Courtesy Lone Oak Brewing Co.
Lone Oak Brewing Co. is just seconds off the Confederation Bridge in Gateway Village, and the craft brewery specializes in beers that are refreshing and easy to drink. - Photo Courtesy Lone Oak Brewing Co.

Lone Oak Brewing Co. is just seconds off the Confederation Bridge in Gateway Village, and the craft brewery specializes in beers that are refreshing and easy to drink. Their best sellers include a light, crisp Maritime Pilsner called Fixed Link and a hop-forward, citrusy American Pale Ale called Yankee Gale.

“Patrons can relax in our taproom or enjoy our fully-licensed patio where we have a food truck offering some of the Island’s finest food options — and Canada’s Top Chef finalist Lucy Morrow cooking at the helm,” says CEO and co-owner Jared Murphy.

Inside the Lone Oak Brewing Co. taproom, the tables are spaced six feet apart and there’s live music Friday evenings, Saturday afternoons and Sunday afternoons, featuring some of the Island’s most recognized artists. Stop by for a flight to taste the seven different brews that made Lone Oak this year’s champions of Hopyard’s brewery battles.

The restaurant at Mill River Resort in Woodstock is known as “Callaghan’s” because William E. Callaghan and his wife, Ellen, were among early Irish settlers to Prince Edward Island — and many of their descendants still reside in Prince County today. The restaurant’s bacon-wrapped scallops are an Island favourite.

At Valley Pearl Oysters in Tyne Valley, the menu changes every day, and so does the restaurant’s official closing time — owners Jeff Noye and Damien Enman love what they do, and the good friends tend to just wrap up for the night “whenever.”

Fresh raw oysters are always $1 each at Valley Pearl Oysters in Tyne Valley, owned by good friends Jeff Noye and Damien Enman. - Photo Courtesy Valley Pearl Oysters.
Fresh raw oysters are always $1 each at Valley Pearl Oysters in Tyne Valley, owned by good friends Jeff Noye and Damien Enman. - Photo Courtesy Valley Pearl Oysters.

Fresh raw oysters are always $1 each, and one of their most popular menu items is the fried oyster dinner. There’s also a smokehouse where they cook ribs, brisket and pork belly over the fire, so check their Facebook page to see what’s smoking on the day of your visit.

A TASTE OF CENTRAL P.E.I.

Portugal-born Jaime and Heather Matos traveled around the world looking for the perfect location to start their own vineyard and winery, and they found it in Central P.E.I. The area’s beauty, friendly folks and quiet way of life reminded them of the island of Pico in the Azores, where they were both born.

Located in St. Catherines, Matos Winery & Distillery offers 90-minute tours ($15 + HST) through the vineyard and winery so guests can learn about the wine-making process. - Photo Courtesy Matos Winery & Distillery.
Located in St. Catherines, Matos Winery & Distillery offers 90-minute tours ($15 + HST) through the vineyard and winery so guests can learn about the wine-making process. - Photo Courtesy Matos Winery & Distillery.

Located in St. Catherines, Matos Winery & Distillery is known for dry, unoaked wines, Chardonnay, Rosé and Gamay-Noir. Since they’re a distillery as well as a winery, they also produce unique spirits, like Anisette — licorice-flavoured liqueur served in a beautiful bottle with sugar crystals and fennel.

The 90-minute tours ($15 + HST) lead guests through the vineyard as well as through the winery itself, teaching them about the wine-making process. Each tour wraps up in the gift shop with four complimentary samples

“I’ve always said that when people walk into the winery, it’s like getting a hug.  Unfortunately, COVID-19 this year has changed that,” says Heather Matos. “But we still love for people to come and see our vineyard, so beautiful and lush-looking. We get so many compliments on the way it is maintained.”

One of the COVID-19 safety precautions at Sims Corner Steakhouse & Oyster Bar in Charlottetown is that they’ve introduced zones around each table so servers can stand at a distance to safely speak to diners. The restaurant is famous for serving steak that’s been raised, butchered, and aged right on the Island, so be sure to order your favourite cut of Island beef alongside one of their top side dishes, like roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon lardons, caramelized onions and blue cheese.

Further uptown at the Prince Edward Island Brewing Company, they’re gearing up to host an Oktoberfest event (Sept. 25-26, 2020) featuring two days of local beer, food and festivities.

Twin sisters Jenny and Jackie Myers are the owners of the Lobster Barn Pub & Eatery in Victoria-By-The-Sea. The business is in its 11th year now, and will continue to buzz with diners — amidst heavy-duty sanitizing routines — through the end of October when it closes for the winter.

Myers says September and October are actually great times to visit Central P.E.I. because there are fewer crowds, but the water’s still lovely and warm. They’re fishing lobster right off the wharf now, for the fall season, and you “can’t beat the sunsets.”

The Lobster Barn Pub & Eatery’s classic sweet-and-salty lobster roll recently beat out 74 other restaurants to be named P.E.I.’s “Most Loved” lobster roll for 2020. - Photo Courtesy The Lobster Barn Pub & Eatery.
The Lobster Barn Pub & Eatery’s classic sweet-and-salty lobster roll recently beat out 74 other restaurants to be named P.E.I.’s “Most Loved” lobster roll for 2020. - Photo Courtesy The Lobster Barn Pub & Eatery.

The Lobster Barn’s classic sweet-and-salty lobster roll recently beat out 74 other restaurants to be named P.E.I.’s “Most Loved” lobster roll for 2020. Jenny Myers says it's a simple but delicious combination of local lobster, a toasted freshly-baked roll, homemade mayo, real butter and local organic greens.

“It’s by far our most popular menu item. On any given day in the summer, we’ll sell 200 or 300 of them,” says Myers. “It’s not fancy, but we’re not about fancy. We’re about using quality local ingredients.”

Taste your way across Prince Edward Island this fall. To start planning your next getaway, visit ExplorePEI.com.

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