Heaven? No, Just PEI.

July 14th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Warm (not blistering) sun. Cool sea breezes. Spectacular sunsets over the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Gentle green farmland. Yes, HG and BSK are on Prince Edward Island, once again, for the summer. Happily, Andrew McDonald and his lovely daughters are stlll running their shellfish and chowder emporium at St. Peter’s Bay Landing. After a year’s separation, Andrew gazed at HG with fondness and deftly shucked some South Lake oysters. These oysters never appear in the United States. Plump. Sweet. Briney. They are a PEI secret, happily devoured by local gourmands like HG. Having gobbled oysters in Paris, London, New Orleans, Amsterdam, Florida, New York and locales bordering the Atlantic and Pacific, HG vows these are the best in the world. And, when shucked by Andrew not a speck of shell mars the interior and not a drop of lush brine is lost. Besides oysters, Andrew stocks quahogs, soft shell clams and mussels harvested in St. Peter’s Bay. In addition, a lip-smacking cauldron of mussel chowder is always steaming away. There will be happy feasting ahead.

Andrew MacDonald: Mussel Master (And Oysters, Too).

August 30th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

The name — Mussel Interpretive Center — is not one to set the taste buds tingling. So, ignore the name for the moment.

Here’s the set up. The Center is one of the stores in the pleasantly grey shingled group of buildings facing St. Peter’s Bay in the town of St. Peter in Prince Edward Island.

One part of the Center is a rather bleak dining room surrounded by the none too exciting implements of mussel farming (one can also watch a video devoted to the bivalve). The rest of the space is the domain of the MacDonald family — father Andrew and sunny faced young daughters, Katie and Sarah. Here you can buy hard shell clams (quahogs), oysters and, of course, bags of freshly harvested mussels. Best of all, one can feast on HG’s daily luncheon treat, the MacDonald mussel chowder. This is simply the best chowder imaginable. A creamy (but not heavy) broth filled with plump, flavorful mussels. Diners can also have big platters of perfectly steamed mussels or quahogs with melted butter (pus a bit of tabasco) and a crisp biscuit with butter.

There’s another treat Chez MacDonald– South Lake oysters on the half shell. Big, briny, lush. At $1.35 an oyster they are an affordable sea dream realized. Andrew MacDonald shucks them perfectly with the deft touch of a brain surgeon. Not a drop of brine is wasted. Not a chip of shell mars the exquisite oyster.

Beyond the wonderful eats to be had at the M.I.C., the MacDonald family are a joyous presence. Andrew, Katie and Sarah take real pride in their establishment and they extend a genuine feeling of welcome to all customers.

Bivalve Lunch

July 24th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

In typical Prince Edward Island style (meaning NO pretense and barely a smidgen of irony), St. Peter’s Bay has a fine spot for lunch with the deeply appetizing name of the Mussel Interpretive Center. The center was originally operated by the Province government to showcase PEI’s Mussel economy but — surprise, surprise! — it lost a bunch of money. It is now run by a retired Mussel Man who, amongst the fascinating exhibits on the life cycle of mussels and the miraculous leaps in Mussel farming technology, operates a food stand.

HG dined there and was thrilled. Big platter of juicy, steamed hard shell clams (quahogs). Big platter of steamed, plump mussels. Melted butter. Lemon juice. Tabasco. Flaky biscuits. All for a total of ten bucks. Beat the heat and come to P.E.I. Enchanting, gentle and affordable.

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