“These guys take about four to five years to grow,” Johnny Flynn told me, pointing to the meaty oysters he had just finished shucking when we met. According to Flynn, owner of Colville Bay Oyster Company, the waters of P.E.I. are not only teeming with shellfish but full of bluefin tunawidely considered overfished in many of the world’s waters. “To see the volume of tuna out there is phenomenal,” he said, shaking his head. “It blows a hole through the idea that they are in short supply.”
Though water is never far away, the island’s main industry is agriculture, with more than 600,000 acres of farmland and 1,700 farmers. Potatoes thrive here, as do apples, blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries; the island’s livestock include cattle, sheep, and hogs. Today, there is a growing emphasis on island food culture, thanks to organizations like the PEI Culinary Alliance, which creates networks of fishers, farmers, cooks, bakers, and artisans and organizes culinary events. The alliance has also developed the PEI Flavours Culinary Trail, highlighting drives and walks throughout the island with tempting stops along the way.
Despite the steady influx of Anne of Green Gables fans each year, Prince Edward Island has remained relatively low on the tourism radaruntil recently. Sparked by visits in the past two years from Live with Regis and Kelly and Will and Kate (as in His and Her Royal Highness), the buzz is beginning. Savvy travelers would do well to pack their appetites and dig in now, before the secret’s out.
Where to Stay
The Holman Grand, the first new hotel to open on the island in 25 years (high-season doubles from $295), or The Great George (high-season doubles from $220), both in central Charlottetown.
Where to Eat & Drink
Inn at Bay Fortune, for seasonal tasting menus straight from the seaside garden of this east-end property.
Lot 30, for bold takes on locavore eats in Charlottetown.
Blue Mussel Café and Carr’s Oyster Bar, on the north shore, for shellfish and sea views.
Gahan House Pub & Brewery, a Charlottetown local favorite, for pub fare and handcrafted ales.
Where to Stop & Sample
Cows, at multiple locations, for award-winning ice cream; Charlottetown creamery tour.
Rossignol Winery, for tours and tastings of island varietals L’Acadie Blanc and Maréchal Foch in Murray River.
Charlottetown Farmers’ Market, Saturdays year-round and Wednesdays June through October. Try the Avondale Meadows sheep’s-milk cheeses and the made-to-order treats from L’il Orbits Donuts.
Anna Watson Carl is a Manhattan-based freelance writer, cook, and the author of The Yellow Table. In previous contributions to Gourmet Live, she has covered Nashville, the Canadian Rockies, and Paris.