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Gourmet getaway: A culinary tour of Charlottetown, PEI

From just-shucked oysters to wild blueberry ice cream, Prince Edward Island is a food lover’s dream. Here are 13 of our favourite treats — and picturesque sites to visit — in and around the Island’s capital.

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Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Photography by Sian Richards.

1. Order the ultimate lobster rollCHE05_GourmetGetaway02_WEB

Priority number 1 after landing on P.E.I.: Get yourself a proper lobster roll. Dave’s Lobster is a local favourite for its fresh, simple take on the East Coast staple. Your best bet is the classic roll (with New Brunswick potato chips and a dill pickle), though you probably don’t want to miss the lobster tacos, served on mini tortillas with lime and cilantro. 6 Prince St., Dave’s Lobster.

2. Go fish

Take a little cruise and enjoy an on-board supper with Mark Jenkins and his family at Top Notch Charters. Learn about crustacean life (Fact: They can regenerate their own limbs) as the Jenkinses haul up live traps filled with everything from small crabs to seven-pound lobsters. If you ask nicely, they might even let you drive the boat. 2 Prince St., Top Notch Lobster Tours.

3. Organic flavours

Downtown bistro Terre Rouge serves organic ingredients from within 100 miles (no easy feat when you’re on an island). Paper-thin beef carpaccio comes sprinkled with parmesan and arugula. Nova Scotia arctic char gets cozy with P.E.I. scallops. There are also plenty of local take-home goodies, from whole rotisserie chickens to fresh organic veggies. 72 Queen St., Terre Rouge.

4. Have your blueberries…

Cows Creamery — Canada’s answer to Ben & Jerry’s — has more than 30 tasty scratch-made flavours, but we went back (and back again) for another scoop of the sweet and tart blueberry, made with P.E.I. fruit. 397 Capital Dr., Cow’s.

5. …And drink them too

P.E.I.-pint enthusiasts come to Gahan House brewery for its Island Red Amber Ale and Sir John A’s Honey Wheat Ale, but check out the surprisingly crisp Blueberry Ale — real fruit purée is added during fermentation, creating a total taste bud awakening. 126 Sydney St., The Gahan House.

6. Stand on top of the world

Or at least feel like you are, at the iconic Cape Tryon lighthouse. Take a 30-minute drive out of town, ditch the car on a country road, then walk 15 minutes to a magnificient clearing where you’ll finally spot the old red-and-white lighthouse (you’re going to have to ask a local for directions). Walk until you find yourself on the rocky cliffs as waves crash below — just make sure to keep a healthy distance from the edge.

Cape Tryon, Prince Edward Island. Photo, Sian Richards.

 

7. Stay in a haunted hotel

At the Great George Hotel, you’ll be greeted by friendly faces — some of whom, according to local legend, are actually ghosts. But it’s not all spooky: Fresh-baked cookies are served in the mahogany-and-leather lobby daily at 3 p.m., and there’s a wine and beer reception weekday evenings. 58 Great George St., The Great George.

8. Knock back some oystersCHE05_GourmetGetaway07_WEB

You can’t leave P.E.I. without digging into its seriously fresh oysters. Sims Corner Steakhouse and Oyster Bar serves up varieties from across the province, like Raspberry Point and Lucky Lime. Start with a dozen, then turn to the surf and turf — chef Kyle Panton’s strip loin and lobster combo is unreal. 86 Queen St., Sims Corner.

9. Eat your greens (and oranges and yellows)

Start Saturday off with a visit to the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market, held in an airy old barn. The lively year-round hub offers (surprise!) a ton of delicious local food. Depending on your pleasure, you can stock up on colourful carrots, hand-popped kettle corn, from-scratch guacamole or pretty little edible flowers. 100 Belvedere Ave., Charlottetown Farmers’ Market.

10. Take a hike

Want to commune with nature or show off some major cycling skills? The Confederation Trail runs from one end of the province to the other, with multiple trails branching off into various villages as well as Charlottetown. You’ll encounter broad seascapes, vast farmland and quaint mom-and-pop shops for when you need to speak to an actual person again. Tourism PEI.

11. Get schooled by a chef

Sign up for one of the day-long workshops at Holland College’s Culinary Institute of Canada and feel like a pro for a day. For the Island Flavours class, you’ll help chef Ilona Daniel oversee every part of the meal: visiting the local market for ridiculously fresh ingredients like lobster straight from the ocean and famous P.E.I. potatoes, cooking dishes like whitefish chowder and wild-blueberry compote with biscuits, and plating it all beautifully. At the end, enjoy an unforgettable Island feast. 4 Sydney St., Holland College.

12. Walk down Lover’s Lane

Diehard fans of P.E.I.’s most beloved redhead will want to visit the charming Cavendish house that inspired L.M. Montgomery to write Anne of Green Gables. Take a guided tour of the grounds, walk through the cozy house itself (decorated just like the one in the books) or wander through the Haunted Wood and down Lover’s Lane. 8619 Rte. 6, Cavendish, Government of Prince Edward Island.

13. Eat by the ocean

Richard’s Fresh Seafood isn’t exactly a secret: You’re going to have to line up for lunch, but it’s going to be worth the wait. Place your order at the front window (share the fried scallops; keep the fish and chips for yourself), then grab a seat on the roof deck so you can take in the view. 9 Wharf Rd., Stanhope, Richard’s Fresh Seafood.

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Take home a piece of the island

For dinner to go: Got room for an extra carry-on? Lobster on the Wharf Seafood Market will pack up some fresh lobsters or oysters in a cardboard cooler that easily stows in the overhead compartment of most airplanes. Lobster on the Wharf.

For a sweet treat: Everyone on the Island loves Honibe’s delicious honey treats — the owners have even appeared on Dragons’ Den. Their Honey Drops are small, solid servings of 100-percent natural honey that you can use in coffee or tea. $6, Honibe.

For an in-flight snack: Cow Chips: It’s almost worth a flight across the country just for this treat. These salty potato chips are covered with a thick layer of milk chocolate and come in a perfect carry-on-sized container. From $4, Anne Chocolates.

Don’t miss

The PEI Savour Food & Wine Show, May 21: This annual event features amazing dishes from local chefs and cocktails from more than 40 vendors — it’s the best of the province in one handy place. PEI Savour.

Create your own gourmet getaway with Foodie Trips, a culinary tour company offering adventures to Italy, Paris and soon Singapore. You’ll get to meet award-winning chefs, enjoy exclusive cooking classes and more. Foodie Trips.

See more photos from Lora’s trip to Prince Edward Island.