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Drawn back to Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada's smallest province, by delicious memories of lobster dinners many years ago, we returned for a culinary tour. We began our mouth-watering journey with delectable steamed lobsters with drawn butter at Lobster on the Wharf in Charlottetown. (Locals still call it MacKinnon's after the original owners.)

Steamed lobster, New Glasgow Lobster Suppers
Steamed lobster, New Glasgow Lobster Suppers
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Diners who don't want to extract the succulent morsels from the red shells can order lobster bisque, lobster mornay and lazyman's lobster (hand-picked meat, baked with butter, sherry and bread crumb topping).

New Glasgow lobster suppers

Around the island, we saw signs advertising community and festival lobster suppers. In New Glasgow, famous for its lobster suppers since 1958, we dined at red gingham-covered tables.

The feast began with homemade rolls, seafood chowder or soup, steamed mussels and salads. Our steaming hot lobsters arrived with dishes of melted butter. We loosened our belts for dessert—a choice of freshly baked pies.

Lobster season

Prince Edward Island has two lobster seasons, spring (May to late June) on the north and south sides and fall (August to October) on the west side. We forgot our concerns about buying fresh lobster between seasons when we viewed one of New Glasgow's massive live lobster storage pounds.

Lobster salad on potato rosemary bread with melted brie and maple salad
Lobster salad on potato rosemary bread with melted brie and maple salad
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

The refrigerated tanks hold 20,000 pounds of live lobsters. Staff flush them with 10,000 gallons of salt water trucked in from Rustico every week.

Culinary Institute of Canada chefs

Many PEI chefs are graduates of Holland College's Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown.

They elevate the tasty red crustaceans to new levels with creations such as the lip-smacking lobster salad on potato rosemary bread with melted brie and maple salad that we enjoyed for lunch one day.

Brackley Beach café

The Dunes Studio Gallery & Café in Brackley Beach serves scrumptious lunches and dinners, such as lobster sandwiches with lemon herb mayonnaise and alfalfa sprouts on baguettes with mesclun salad. Large windows overlook pools and gardens, decorated with sculptures.

Diners overlook pool and gardens, The Dunes Studio Gallery & Café in Brackley Beach
Diners overlook pool and gardens,
The Dunes Studio Gallery & Café in Brackley Beach
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Shoppers and art-lovers can admire and buy dazzling Balinese, Thai and Indonesian carvings, paintings and jewelry collected by owner Peter Jansons and his associate Joel Mills. In the studio, we watched Peter create beautiful pottery that's used in the café and sold in the galleries.

Inns with gourmet restaurants

Some of our best meals were in PEI's picturesque inns. At Dalvay-by-the-Sea Hotel, we dined on butter-poached lobster with spring asparagus velouté, scented with white truffles, lemon crème fraiche and asparagus sprouts.

The Inn at St. Peters
The Inn at St. Peters
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Celebrity chef, cookbook author and Food Network star Michael Smith operates a mind-boggling FireWorks Feast at The Inn at Bay Fortune, where his wife Chastity is the innkeeper. Created from his farm's organic produce and locally sourced meat and seafood roasted on a 7.5-meter, fire-fuelled smoker/rotisserie/grill/oven, the multi-course meal is an awesome experience.

Chef Michael Smith, The Inn at Bay Fortune
Chef Michael Smith, The Inn at Bay Fortune
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

The Inn at St. Peters' restaurant overlooks pretty gardens and St. Peters Bay, where fishermen collect blue mussels. Our butter-poached PEI lobsters with sun-dried tomato, roasted garlic polenta, leek sauté and lobster roe sabayon were exquisite.

Working up appetites

How did we stimulate our appetites to dine so well? Strolling along numerous beaches, we watched families playing on the sand beside frothing surf.

PEI has more than 1,100 kilometers of shoreline, so we were never more than a 15-minute drive from a beach.

Playing on manicured greens

Prince Edward Island has more golf courses per capita than any other Canadian province. Its 27 courses, with more than 400 fairways, are less than 40 minutes from any location in the province.

We were tempted to take up the sport after viewing golfers playing on the manicured greens of the Mill River Golf Course in Woodstock and The Links at Crowbush Cove on the north shore.

Confederation Trail monument, Summerside
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Summerside walks

We especially enjoyed the island's hiking trails. The main and branch trails of the 435-kilometer Confederation Trail draw walkers and bikers to PEI's portion of the Trans Canada Trail.

In Summerside, Prince Edward Island's second largest city 50 minutes west of Charlottetown, we viewed historic murals and heritage houses during a leisurely walking tour.

PEI National Park trails

With more than 50 kilometers of trails, Prince Edward Island National Park on the north shore was our favorite place to walk. Photogenic treasures often surprised us, such as the red-and-white Covehead Lighthouse, surrounded by sand dunes and marram grass.

On well-signed trails in the Greenwich Peninsula section of the park, we discovered picturesque dune formations, cardinal-red bunchberries, cattails and other plants.

Hikers view sand dunes from floating boardwalk in PEI National Park
Hikers view sand dunes from floating boardwalk in PEI National Park
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

During our 90-minute walk on the floating boardwalk over Bowley Pond, we surveyed high, mobile parabolic dunes from an observation area. Interpretive signs described the area's fascinating flora, fauna, history and archaeological findings.

Ceilidh fiddler
Ceilidh fiddler
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Musical kitchen parties

Ceilidhs (pronounced kay-lees), were a fun way to combine exercise and the island's traditional music. With locals and visitors, we clapped our hands and kicked up our heels to a rhythmic blend of Scottish, Irish and Acadian music created by fiddlers, spoon-players, guitarists and accordionists.

Tourism PEI provides a list of these popular social events. We also spotted roadside signs announcing ceilidhs in community halls.

Mackerel fishing

Inspired by the lobster pots stacked on North Rustico's wharf, we joined a deep-sea fishing expedition with Captain Jeff MacNeill at PEI Tuna Charters in North Lake. For three hours, we cast our lines pulling up mackerel using red and yellow feathers as bait.

Captain Jeff cleaned participants' catches, giving each of us a bag of mackerel as souvenirs. (The chef at our inn cooked them for our dinner.) Watching seagulls squabble over the scraps was almost as much fun as the fishing.

Deep-sea fishing for mackerel with PEI Tuna Charters
Deep-sea fishing for mackerel with PEI Tuna Charters
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

How to ship PEI seafood home

How did we satisfy our craving for PEI seafood after we returned home? The shop at East Point Lighthouse sells lobster-flavored potato chips, but we craved fresh seafood.

Several markets—including Arsenault's Fish Mart in Summerside, Doiron Fisheries in North Rustico and Water Prince and Lobster on the Wharf in Charlottetown—air ship dry ice-packed live lobsters, mussels, oysters and other fresh and cooked seafood to Canadian addresses.

We didn't feel guilty about feasting on lobster. The meat from a one-pound boiled lobster has 21 grams of protein and only 93 calories and one gram of fat. It was also a tasty way to help Prince Edward Island's economy.


Tourism PEI

More things to see and do in PEI:

Prince Edward Island Anne of Green Gables Tour

PEI Entices Meeting and Incentive Groups