It’s time to play a bit of catch-up. I have a couple of posts about our trip back to the East Coast last summer that have been waiting on the back burner for months. Here’s the first of at least two.
Everywhere we travel, there’s always a focus on food. A big part of our trip home was visiting all of our favourite restaurants. PEI is also a great place to go shopping for food, especially in the summertime. Fresh seafood is a huge draw, and there’s also great produce, meats, cheeses and other foods. These are a few highlights from our trip.
We didn’t have the chance to do much cooking, but we had one supper at J’s parents’ place, and I wanted to cook seafood. We tried to buy some at the farmers’ market, but it was a Wednesday and the seafood stall wasn’t there. So we headed to another amazing place to get fresh seafood: the Queen Street Meat Market.
I know, it doesn’t sound quite right, does it? Not only does the market sell more seafood than meat, it isn’t even located on Queen Street. (I assume it once was). It’s one block over, on University, in a not-very-nice strip of the avenue, across from the Dairy Queen. But it’s a great little shop that feels like it hasn’t changed much since the 1950s.
My Dad used to frequent this market a lot to pick up his meat and fish. They sell premium Island steak, all kinds of other meat, fish and seafood, cheese, and some local produce too. The wooden interior is painted white, and it’s a little cramped, with a long L-shaped glass display counter where you place your order, big freezers against the wall, tanks swimming with live lobsters, and food stacked on tables around the room. Taped to the walls are old calendars and charts detailing the different cuts of meat you can get from a cow.
There’s nothing fancy about this place. The pricing labels made from styofroam meat trays and scrawled with black marker can attest to that. But fresh products have nothing to do with extravagance. And what you get at this market is the best – the mussels we ate that night were fantastic.
For a more touristy but nonetheless delicious food shopping experience, Anne of Green Gables Chocolates on Queen Street does the trick. They also have locations in Cavendish and Borden. Yes, many things in this town and across the Island are named after our beloved heroine, though as far as I know there is little to no mention of chocolate in the Anne books.
The chocolate shop is a large store selling everything from individual truffles to PEI “Oysters” (like chocolate turtles) to hard candies. They also carry Avonlea-brand preserves and cheddar cheese, and cheese from Cows Creamery (makers of the famous ice cream).
A very popular item is the chocolate-covered potato chips made from PEI potatoes. I saw these packages sticking out of many tourists’ bags as I walked around town, and there’s even a display set up in the store where you watch the staff making the treats. I didn’t sample them myself, but how could you go wrong? Sweet and salty is the best combination ever.
Just down the street from the chocolate shop is a brand-new food store unlike anything I’ve seen in Charlottetown before. Liquid Gold Tasting Bar sells high-quality olive oils and vinegars, and the shop is set up in a unique way. Each oil and vinegar they sell is held in a large silver vat with a tiny spout, and each is available to taste. You can make your way around the store sampling everything from jalepeno olive oil to cranberry pear balsamic vinegar, and tons of other interesting flavours.
The store is large, bright, and airy, and there’s lots of information about olive oil and vinegars up on the walls. There’s even a special section with truffle oil – that one, not surprisingly, is not available for everyone to taste.
I love the way the store makes shopping a really participatory experience. It’s definitely a great way to get people t0 buy your product. I was shopping with my friend Mackenzie, and she chose two bottles as gifts (a 200 ml bottle is $11 and 375 ml is $18). The friendly salesperson told us the original Liquid Gold store is in Halifax, in the Hydrostone Market. This made Mackenzie happy, since she just moved there.
It was busy during our visit, and I really hope Islanders support the store through the year so it doesn’t have to become one of the many businesses that open only during the summer for the tourist trade.
Since Charlottetown does a booming tourist trade, it only makes sense for food-inclined visitors to want to check out local products. If you’re there for a visit I hope you enjoy these three spots. The Charlottetown Farmers’ Market is also a great place to enjoy a local food experience. There’s also a newer downtown farmers’ market on Sundays, though I haven’t been there yet.
Queen Street Meat Market, 368 University Ave. www.queenstreetmeatmarket.com
Anne of Green Gables Chocolates, 100 Queen St.
Liquid Gold Tasting Bar and All Things Olive, 72 Queen St.