I love mussels. Mussels in White Wine, Diablo, Marinara, it doesn’t matter. Give me a bowl of mussels, some fresh bread, and a glass of wine and I’m good to go. Add some “Frites” (french fries for the uninformed) and I’m in seventh heaven. Before I go further down this road, do you know what P.E.I. is? Prince Edwards Island, a small island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the smallest (about 2,000 square miles) Canadian Province and part of the Eastern Maritimes? It’s also the source for about 80 percent of the cultured mussels consumed in the United States. More on this later.
We were on the last leg of our tour of the Maritimes and Newfoundland. We’d discovered Peggy’s Cove and Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, and had fun with the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. Our last stop was Prince Edward Island. It’s a short ferry ride from Nova Scotia and our first sightings were the Harbor lighthouse and the signature red soil of this small island.
The drive to Holiday Haven, our campground and home base for our stay, passed along inland bays, farmland and country roads. We were situated on the water, surrounded by potato fields. That pretty much sums up P.E.I.; a beautiful pastoral island, lovely farms, small towns, pinkish red sandy beaches and great seafood.
Which brings me back to mussels. Unbeknownst to us, P.E.I. is Canada’s top producer of rope cultured mussels. They take a long line, seed it with mussels, drop it in the water and in 12-24 months haul it up and it is loaded with 2 inch mussels ready for harvest. The locals claim it is the clean, nutrient rich waters that produces the great flavor. We did quite few quality control checks at the local eateries and they all passed with flying colors.
We also discovered the second biggest industry in P.E.I is Anne of Green Gables. It’s a classic children’s book series written in 1908 by Lucy Maud Montgomery. The author was born in P.E.I. and the books are all set there. It has been the basis for movies, plays and TV shows. P.E.I. has built a whole tourist industry around the book including tours, shops and musical productions. The book has sold millions world wide but I must have spent too much time with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys because I missed this one.
We toured the local sights, walked the beaches, took a fishing charter and enjoyed chatting with the many friendly people we met. We found Canada’s smallest library We also played golf a few times. We were teeing off at Fox Meadow Golf Course when this fox walked out of the bushes to watch. He was unfazed by my camera, in fact he seemed to enjoy it. Perhaps since the course is named Fox Meadow they hire trained foxes to entertain the tourists? It worked for us.