Foodie Guest Blog – New London & Area
Guest blog post by Shannon Courtney, who stayed at one of our PEI Dream Cottages in June 2018. This is part 3 of a 3 part series, with each part showcasing a different region of the North Shore.
New London is located just west of Cavendish along Route 6. And while it’s rather small (you know, blink of the eye and you’ll pass it by) the area is a must-stop for any foodie that wants a truly unforgettable PEI experience.
On our first full day of staycation, I left Luke to sleep in and enjoy the cottage life while I headed to nearby New London, home to The Table Culinary Studio, a very special gem that offers both culinary classes and intimate evening meals around a communal table.
I’d been to The Table for my birthday dinner in August of last year and thought THAT was magical (and it IS!). As someone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen, however, I absolutely reveled the opportunity to spend a morning in the kitchen with The Table’s Executive Chef Michael Bradley and 5 fellow students. The culinary class on offer that particular day: Bounty of the Sea.
We learned how to make a classic lobster bisque (you boil down the whole lobster shell!), how to prepare a flavourful vegetable stock, how to make homemade black garlic linguine (hint: a LOT of arm muscle!), how to debeard mussels, how to crack open a lobster with a butter knife and plenty more!
At the end of our ‘shift’ we sat down to the feast of the seafood we’d prepared, plus sourdough bread and a black garlic chocolate cake Chef Michael and The Table team had made for us. It was simply splendid. My heart and stomach were overflowing by the end. The folks at The Table – Derrick, Christine, Chef Michael and Chef Jenna have created something truly special and unique – anyone fortunate enough to visit The Table will leave with the fondest of memories.
While I was in the area, I couldn’t pass up the chance to visit my friend, Nancy Sanderson, who runs Hope River Farm, about halfway between New London and New Glasgow at 4236 St Marys Rd. The rumours about her driveway were true – it’s soooooo long. But the drive was worth it! We pulled up to an idyllic farmscape filled with happy animals grazing the pastures, chickens pecking at the yard, and two Great Pyrenees greeting us with tail wags and tongues out. For the next hour or so Nancy took us on an unhurried tour of her farm – sharing fascinating insights about the animals in her care. Did you know there’s only one breed of Canadian rooster and it doesn’t have a crown because it would freeze in the cold? Also, mother rabbits aren’t very maternal and I’ll just leave it at that.
We also learned that most of The Table’s meat comes from Hope River Farm and that Jeff McCourt of Glasgow Glen sends the byproducts of his cheesemaking to Nancy for pig feed. Though I consider myself fairly well-versed in PEI’s local food scene, I still find myself regularly marveling at the collaboration and camaraderie of the Island’s farmers, producers, fishers and chefs. Their friendships are deep and their commitment to supporting each other is impressive. Indeed, I’d be so bold as to guess that they all believe in the adage: “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
Another must-visit, especially on a hot summer’s day is Potter’s Parlour in New London. Located on Route 6 directly beside the longstanding Village Pottery shop, this whimsical ice cream shop is pure bliss for kids and adults alike. Charming and unique, this inviting yellow house is the perfect mid-afternoon reprieve to a busy day of exploring. Parlour owner Suzanne Scott has put her heart (and impeccable eye for design) into creating a space that feels, quite frankly, magical. Pair that with classic and unusual ice cream flavours that will make your kids smile wide and you might just find yourself wanting to stay the rest of the day.
Well, OK, you may have too much on your itinerary to stay all day, but do be sure you take a few minutes to visit Village Pottery, also owned and operated by Suzanne. The shop, which contains all sorts of gorgeous and functional pottery made Suzanne and others was first opened by Suzanne’s mother, Daphne Large, in 1973!
If you fancy a seafood feast while staying at PEI Dream Cottages or Cavendish Bosom Buddies, but don’t feel like cooking it yourself, you can hire Gallants’ & Co. to cater a dinner at your cottage. Tyler Gallant along with his partner, Christine Murnaghan, run a retail shop in Charlottetown and a booth at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market throughout the year. We were invited to experience one of their catered dinners on the last day of our staycation, with the owners of CBB and PEI Dream Cottages, Tracey and Kenny, as our hosts. It was the perfect way to end our visit- with friendly faces, lots of laughs and a hearty spread of fresh PEI seafood and delicious accompaniments (oh those biscuits!). Tyler even did a demonstration on how to properly steam a pot full of lobsters – a skill you’ve got to master in order to be considered a ‘true’ Islander.
And with that marvelous finale, our staycation had come to a close. I was sad to leave the North Shore, but so very grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with a place that had stolen my heart in childhood and did so again on this trip.
While I loved every minute of our stay – from the gorgeous cottage we came home to every evening, to the scrumptious meals, to the stunning scenery, what will stick with me as time carries on is the passionate people that made our experience so exceptional. Their livelihoods are tied to the North Shore’s waters and soils and they work tirelessly every day to share the best of this paradise with everyone who comes to visit, whether we’re from near or far. For the gift of their love, skill and energy, I remain ever grateful.
It was the perfect reminder of just how special my island is and that I need to make time every year and every season to rediscover its magic. With our wedding in mid-September, I reckon a mini-honeymoon on the North Shore might just be in order. After all, the fall is the best time to be a foodie on PEI, with the fall harvest at its peak, the Fall Flavours Festival serving up a bevy of unique culinary experiences across the Island, and the restaurants a bit less busy than in the peak tourist months of July and August. See you on the North Shore!