Foodie Guest Blog – New Glasgow
Guest blog post by Shannon Courtney, who stayed at one of our PEI Dream Cottages in June 2018. This is part 1 of a 3 part series, with each part showcasing a different region of the North Shore.
Read Part 2 (North Rustico) here.
Read Part 3 (New London) here.
When I was offered the chance to take a foodie staycation at PEI Dream Cottages in Stanley Bridge, I didn’t hesitate for a second. Not even factoring in the reality that I would have to consume large amounts of rich, delicious food just weeks before my wedding. Did I mention I am food-obsessed? I love everything about the world of food, which extends beyond savouring delicious bites to being immersed in every aspect of the farm-to-table experience. It’s a good way to live, especially on an Island so abundant with skilled food folks and the best ingredients you’ll find anywhere.
In late June, I packed up the car with necessities – wine and Luke, my fiance – and we headed out of Charlottetown via Route 6. Over the next four days, we ate our way around the central North Shore – discovering new culinary delights set against the familiar backdrop of my beloved childhood stomping grounds. It was epic.
Our Summer Daze
There’s really nothing that compares to spending your summer days at a waterfront cottage on the North Shore of PEI. I didn’t know what to expect from our PEI Dream Cottage, Summer Daze, but suffice to say I was blown away from the minute we opened the door.
Airy and sun-filled, immaculate yet warm and welcoming, it was definitely a dream cottage for us and would be perfect for a family too. Luke made quick business of setting us up with some satellite radio music and plopping himself into a lounger in the living room, while I explored the cottage with the new 360 video camera he’d recently purchased.
I was especially pleased with the gourmet kitchen, which came with new full-sized appliances (including a dishwasher!) and a selection of wine glasses. It’s almost like they knew I was coming to stay….
Perhaps my favourite thing about the cottage, however, was the spectacular view it offered of New London Bay. The wide, glass patio doors of livingroom opened onto a welcoming deck and beyond that a picture-perfect blend of green grass, blue waters and red cliffs. Simply dreamy.
I loved knowing that we had such a spectacular home base to return to after each day’s adventures. I looked forward to the dark nights of my childhood, which one does not get in a city filled with street lights.
On Exploring the North Shore
I’m one of those people that loves having an itinerary when traveling. In part, because creating an itinerary forces me to research the destination in advance and suss out my ‘must visits’. But with several years of globetrotting under my belt, I’m well aware that itineraries aren’t likely to go to plan, and the best plan you can have while traveling is to go with the flow. Bearing that in mind, while I do suggest navigating the North Shore by region simply to reduce time spent in the car, there’s really no wrong way to explore the area and everything is a pleasant 15-minute drive (or less) from everything else, so you’re golden no matter what happens.
New Glasgow – Big Hearts Prevail
While the Island is replete with passionate, generous food folk, I’m quite convinced that the concentration of big hearts is densest in the little hamlet of New Glasgow. It’s always a treat to arrive in this gorgeous piece of paradise, which boasts vistas filled with rolling green hills and is intersected by the River Clyde (clearly, there’s a Scottish influence to the area’s namesakes). Besides stunning scenery, however, New Glasgow is a haven for foodies in search of everything from a classic lobster dinner (New Glasgow Lobster Suppers) to an upscale dining experience (The Mill) to traditional Maritime fare paired with stunning views (PEI Preserve Co) to delicious gouda cheese and pizza (Glasgow Glen Farm).
We opted to visit the PEI Preserve Co. for an early lunch on a sunny morning mid-staycation and were treated to prime seats overlooking the River Clyde. I make a point of visiting this PEI landmark at least once a year. It’s got so much to love: a gorgeous waterside location, warm hospitality, delicious samples of preserves (mmmm!) and a Maritime-inspired menu of homestyle meals, including the PEI Potato Pie and famous raspberry cream cheese pie.
My favourite thing about the Preserve Co., however, has got to be its owner, Bruce MacNaughton, who is well-known for his generosity and big heart. A few years back Bruce and his wife, Shirley, completed renovating an old Catholic chapel they’d moved from its original location in Cavendish and opened it up as a Respite Cottage for individuals, families, or caregivers coping with the effects of a life-threatening illness. The couple have contributed to their local community and the Island in countless other ways over the years and I remain in awe of their generosity and kind spirits.
If you visited the North Shore but didn’t have a lobster dinner, were you ever really there? Ok, ok, a bit of an exaggeration, but there’s really nothing more spectacular than a traditional PEI lobster feast, and all the better if it comes with endless side dishes, a lobster bib and no worries about cleaning up the kitchen afterwards! New Glasgow Lobster Suppers has been serving up lobster dinners since 1958 (that’s 60 years!), so you can bet your bottom dollar they know what they’re doing.
We arrived in a famished state (it was our first stop after checking into Summer Daze), and were promptly seated at a lovely table near the windows. Over the course of the next hour, we devoured homemade rolls (oh my goodness, SO delicious), PEI mussels, seafood chowder, green salad, potato salad and, of course, a PEI lobster that was cooked to perfection. Dessert options were a-plenty, but I had saved room for just one slice of their famous mile-high lemon meringue pie. It was everything you could want in a lobster feast plus more. And our server was absolutely splendid – taking special care to ensure Luke didn’t get any dairy-infused foods (he’s intolerant), whilst managing her other (much larger) tables.
Everything tastes better with cheese, this is a fact of life. And so a visit to Glasgow Glen Farm (on Route 258), gouda cheese capital of PEI, was a must.
I always love visiting Glasgow Glen Farm and checking in with Jeff McCourt, the big-hearted owner (aka The Big Cheese). An experienced chef, Jeff decided to change gears about 7 or 8 years ago and become a cheesemaker. He has put all his skill and energy into creating exceptional goudas in classic flavours, like red pepper and cumin, and more unusual ones, such as beer and pizza. And then there’s the Bluda cheese – a blissful fusion of gouda and blue cheese flavours that’ll wow your tastebuds.
While we definitely wanted to stock up on our favourite gouda flavours, we also took the opportunity to indulge in Glasgow Glen’s famous wood-fired pizzas, which are more than ‘gouda’, they are great (it’s a bad pun, I know, but work with me here). I ordered up the Warm & Fungi pizza (they have 7 equally tantalizing options on the menu + special creations by chance) and decided to throw caution to the wind and order one of their new Sweetzas too! A dessert-inspired pizza featuring fruit (pineapple, banana or apple) and other sweet toppings, the sweetza was clearly made with sweet tooths like me in mind.
While we waited for our pizzas, I perused the selection of breads, sweets, and other bakery items also made in-house. I decided I just had to have giant cinnamon roll (to go, obviously). I kid you not, Glasgow Glen has the biggest cinnamon rolls I’d ever seen in my life and I wasn’t about to leave without one. Ok, to truth be told, I got two. I rationalized that we’d share them with other, yet-to-be-determined people.
Everything about Glasgow Glen was amazing – the pizza, the cheese, the chefs and staff and the scenery (definitely eat out at a picnic table if you can).
Protip: At $12 or $14 per pizza, this is the perfect destination for a lunch date, where one pizza will fill up two people and keep you satiated for many hours.
We celebrated summer solstice with an epic meal at The Mill, which is just across the river from PEI Preseve Co. It is my go-to for an elevated dinner experience with gorgeous views. The menu offers Island-inspired dishes as well as Asian fusion influences. Local ingredient sourcing is a way of life for Chef Emily Wells, who owns and operates The Mill.
I have had the great pleasure of knowing Chef Emily for a few years now and I can confirm the rumour….her meals are as HUGE as her heart!!!
Chef Emily works tirelessly in the service of others, contributing her time, energy and amazing food skills to numerous community fundraisers in PEI (a favourite of mine is The River Clyde Pageant). Her generous spirit is evident in everything she pours her heart into, including the outstanding food she serves up each summer at The Mill.
On the night we went, she was front of house upon our arrival and greeted us like old friends. We treated ourselves to Belle River crab cakes as a starter, then each opted for the Pad Thai, with Luke ordering the lobster version and me choosing the chicken version. And as I expected, ever bite was delicious – fresh, flavourful and mighty fine. Definitely don’t worry about finding a place for lunch the next day if you order the Pad Thai, as you’ll have plenty of leftovers to enjoy!
After our foodie experiences in New Glasgow, I’m more convinced than ever that it’s the heart of our Food Island. But don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself. And while you’re there, be sure to visit The Toy Factory, an amazing shop that is sure to delight, no matter how young or old you are!