Saturday, October 27, 2012

Day 5 - Charlottetown

If you have ever read the novel "Anne of Green Gables" as a child, you may have at least had something of an introduction to Prince Edward Island. Where I grew up in Alabama, any male child reading "Anne" would have been immediately suspect. Better to pick a book of another color, say "The Red Badge of Courage", for example.

Suffice it to say, I had no real literary primer on what to expect in PEI.

Fortunately, Richard had been to PEI about 10 years ago on an Elderhostel culinary trip, and gave me a hint of what to expect.

Charlottetown, PEI is a small place, with about 60000 residents. It's charming, though, with a smattering of galleries, restaurants (not just seafood!), and unique shops. It has the feel of many similar historic towns that have managed to be preserved thanks to a combination of political relevance (Charlottetown is the capital of PEI), educational distinction (PEI's main colleges are located here) and, of course, tourism.

We started the day with a trolley tour of the city. Let me just say here that our tour guide was a very sweet PEI native who did her best to stretch the most out of a two-hour tour that would have been better served clocking in at half that time. I mean, I really don't need to have the local Tim Horton's spotted out to me, nor do I care to spend ten minutes trolling around a rather non-descript college campus because that's "where we test our food." Not really what I came for. But a chance to see the historic neighborhoods, the Province Capital building and the shops along Victoria Row and all was forgiven.

We capped the excursion at a lobster house near the dock. I have had PEI mussels many times, and love them. I cannot remember, however, having a bowl of PEI mussels that were so plump, tender and consistent in size and texture. The mussels were served in a broth of white wine and garlic that was pretty much superfluous when measured against the delicious, natural briny liqueur given from the mussels themselves. The whole idea of eating local food really gets driven home when you get something as good as this. Any mussels eaten back home will have a hard act to follow.

I wish we had the time to explore the island more. I guess one measure of whether a trip is successful or not is if you come away feeling like you would very much want to return to see more. In that case, I would say our day in PEI was a success. I definitely would like to come back, maybe in the summertime, and try the locally made COWS ice cream, visit the factory store where PEI's Paderno cookware is made and sold, and try some more of the surprisingly good local white wine.

And when I do come back, I am bringing along a copy of "Anne of Green Gables", where I doubt even an eyebrow, let alone a suspicion, will be raised.


No comments: