14 SEP 2015: On my recent trip to Prince Edward Island I had two most delightful surprises. On the long and narrow island (about 280 km from tip to tip) you are never far from the sea so it’s only natural that seafood features prominently but for this to include golf courses is a novelty. The second surprise is Canada's smallest province (just 0.1 percent of our total land area) has the hottest new restaurant of 2015, likely to become one of the world’s top culinary destinations.
This mainly agricultural province boasts over 30 golf courses all within 45 minutes of each other. Many take full advantage of being near the sea. At Andersons Creek, a Graham Cooke designed course, there are complimentary mussels every day on the 19th hole. Glasgow Hills near Cavendish also dishes up free mussels after every round and for Fall Flavours a three course halibut dinner for just $25.
The Thomas Broom design Links at Crowbush Cove overlooks the north shore dunes with water in play on nine holes and spectacular sea views. Our feast at the end of a round of course included steaming bowls of fresh mussels. Among the entrees at the fine dining David’s at Crowbush is a Maritime Cioppino packed with confit tomato, herbs, fish, mussels, lobster and clams.
After playing Dundarave, a memorable course along the tranquil Brudenell River my group took a golf cart down to the dock and boarded a fishing boat with Captain Perry Gotell of Tranquility Cove Adventures. As we cruised past mussel farms and fishing grounds, Captain Perry and crew hauled up lobster and crab traps and mussel socks (suspended mesh sleeves) for a show and tell experience.
Then we cast fishing lines into the water and caught mackerel which the Captain filleted and cooked on the spot on his on-board barbeque. This delicious fish was the freshest that I’ve ever tasted. Captain Perry’s most popular trip - a clam digging adventure that includes a beach cook-out – also sounded like a lot of fun.
For those who love both golf and seafood, now’s the perfect time to head to PEI just in time for the 20th Birthday Bash of the International Shellfish Festival running September 17 to 20 in Charlottetown. www.golfpei.ca
As to Canada’s hottest new restaurant of 2015 in our smallest province? The Fortune Feast at FireWorks, celebrity Chef Michael Smith’s new restaurant at Inn at Bay Fortune on Prince Edward Island is both culinary theatre at its best and locavore food at its finest.
Chef Smith bought the Inn in the winter of this year, allowing him to return to his roots. For seven years in the 1990’s he manned the stoves at Bay Fortune bringing international fame to the small country inn. With his re-launch of the Inn with wife Chastity, he has made this quaint spot a world class culinary destination. FireWorks brings to life the ancient form of live-fire cooking: from smokehouse, open hearth, grill, rotisserie, plancha (flat topped grill) and oven. No gas or electrical heat needed. The centre piece of the restaurant is the 25 foot brick-lined, wood-burning fireplace/oven.
Chefs create a new menu every day using ingredients from the Inn’s own organic farm and herb gardens (250 ingredients are grown on site) as well as from local farmers, fisherfolk, foragers and culinary artisans. Feasts start at 6pm with an hour of mingling in the historic black and white kitchen where Chef Smith filmed his first TV series, The Inn Chef.
The night I dined 23-year-old Head Chef Cobey Adams was in charge of the team, which included Chef Smith’s 13-year-old son Gabe. The first hour featured oysters plucked that morning from Fortune Bay, pastrami salmon and smoked beef striploin.
As soon as we sat down 12 grain red fife sourdough bread hot from the oven with whipped brown butter appeared, followed by a Taste of the Island Board (smoked liver pâté, brisket, Glasgow Glen Pizza Gouda, raw veggies), fish chowder, halibut baked in a salt and sand crust, a 44 ingredient garden salad and smokehouse chicken with mashed potatoes, beets, zucchini, ash onions and tomato salad.
The decadent dessert was a chef’s twist on s’mores featuring maple marshmallow, peanut butter ice cream and chocolate ganache. Book weeks in advance for a chance to get in (the restaurant is seasonal and plans to close in mid-December for the winter unless demand is continuous.)www.innatbayfortune.com