Two Perfect Days of Music and Meals

August 21st, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Prince Edward Island has a modest population: 146,283 (Of course, it’s kicked up a notch during summer tourism season). It often seems to HG that everyone in the native population is a talented musician. Every church and community center sponsors “ceilighs” (informal celebrations of Celtic music and song). Beyond that there are scores of rock groups, folk artists and more. Wherever the public gathers, there is sure to be a musician. The best version of Leonard Cohen’s haunting “Hallelujah” HG ever heard was provided a few weeks ago by a young woman singing at the entrance to the Charlottetown Farmers Market. And, there are festivals galore (HG recently reported on HG/BSK’s attendance at the Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival.) Professional concerts abound, some involving marquee names (Rod Stewart was a recent performer). Yesterday, HG/BSK and the youngsters visited the farmers market in the charming town of Cardigan featuring John the Baker’s baguettes, fresh greens and hand crafted mustard pickles. EM and Haru whacked a tennis ball on the adjacent tennis court. BSK shopped. With wee Teru perched on HG’s knee, HG listened to some splendid live musical performers. First on stage was a slender young man who sang accompanied by his guitar. Great standards (very moving version of “Mr. Bojangles”) plus songs of his own composition. The performer, Nick Doneff, was a knockout. Even wee Teru acknowledged his artistry by clapping her tiny hands. Next up was Trio Bembe, a female vocalist, a male percussionist and a male guitarist. The music was lively Latino, songs from Cuba, Mexico, Colombia and Peru. Terrific. The show at Cardigan was part of promotional effort for Cloggeroo, “The Island Folk Festival”, staged for three days at the nearby town of Georgetown. Yes, good music is inescapable on Prince Edward Island. The afternoon was devoted to fun on the beach in front of HG/BSK’s home. BSK and Exquisite Maiko took Teru on kayak paddles on the calm seas. Handsome Haru rook off on a solo kayak voyage (the young man’s kayak skills have become advanced). HG interrupted his reading with long swims in the warm water (visitors are always surprised how warm the PEI sea is in mid-August). Dinner can only be described as a taste epic. EM performed tempura magic. Bowls of soba in broth (enhanced by crisp strips of nori.) EM kept busy in front of the bowl of batter and oil sizzling in a wok. Platters of superlatively crisp delicacies appeared (haddock, shrimp and scallops from By the Bay Fish Mart in St. Peters) plus slices of onion and zucchini, yellow beans and (surprisingly) clusters of sweet corn kernels. HG always feels a twinge of guilt (easily suppressed by appetite) when EM creates a tempura extravaganza. Everyone eats happily while EM works. This time, however, EM managed to stage the cooking so she could be at table to devour some of her savory morsels. A colorful sunset concluded a perfect PEI summer day.

The following day was simply a perfect beach day on the white sands off Prince Edward Island’s MacLaren Road. The sea was calm and warm, perfect for long swims. Little Teru was an aqua belle and Handsome Haru used his boogie board and snorkel equipment for long bouts among the waves. HG performed the leisurely HG backstroke. EM, Haru and BSK played Kadima, keeping the ball in the air for an auspicious amount of time. More family groups (about seven) on the beach than HG/BSK had ever encountered (not exactly Coney Island in the summer). Beach neighbors were a group of happy, attractive French-speaking children (probably from Quebec) supervised by a smiling grandmother. Busy kids. They built a huge sand castle. Buried each other in the sand. Swam. Played by the shore. A happy sight. HG and Toby, The Wonder Dog, strolled along the shore looking for beach glass (found a dozen modest specimens). Teru was unhappy about leaving the beach (and who could blame her?). Protested with a long, super loud bout of crying. Like Toby, Teru can manage to get a lot of noise out of a very small body. Became her usual sunny self as the group returned home. BSK was in charge of dinner and put the outdoor gas barbecue to good use. Grilled onions, peppers and asparagus. HG helped in grilling a thick flank steak (BSK had previously marinated it in soy sauce, garlic and a bit of olive oil). Best flank steak HG ever tasted (it was local PEI beef). Because of the thickness, there were slices to everyone’s taste (from blood rare for HG to medium rare and well done for the rest of the table). There were also outstanding boiled potatoes from brother-in-law Yossi’s garden. Freshly pulled from the earth and dressed simply with olive oil and Maldon Sea Salt they were a perfect complement to the meat and vegetables. Yossi, who grew up on an Israeli kibbutz, is an experienced agriculturist. HG/BSK are happy beneficiaries of his skills.


Casual Culinary Treats

July 27th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK attended the Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival near the town of Souris on Prince Edward Island. This is a two day event, the ultimate ceilidh, a celebration of Scottish and Irish music featuring scores of fiddlers, pipers, singers, step dancers and musicians from all over the Island, Nova Scotia and Cape Breton. Wikipedia defines “ceilidh” as: “Traditional Gaelic social gathering involving playing Gaelic music and dancing. Originated in Ireland and Scotland.” The Rollo Bay event is joyous with lots of folks arriving in motor homes from distant points. In addition to the music, HG/BSK enjoyed a unique treat: Scallops on a stick. These were sea scallops breaded in a spicy mix, quickly deep fried and skewered. Dazzling. Reminded HG of other wonderful, casual, often unexpected treats. As a very little boy in Depression era southeast Bronx, HG enjoyed sweet potatoes (with a big pat of butter) cooked by an old man in a charcoal stove on wheels. In that same time period, hot chickpeas doused with chicken fat were dispensed in paper cups. These were winter treats. In the summer, Italian vendors sold chunks of fresh coconut and sweet ices. During HG’s later New York days, HG sneered at “dirty water” hot dogs but loved the wondrous Italian sausages with peppers and onions served on crusty bread and cooked on the back of Greenwich Village trucks. HG encountered some great snacks during international travel. Hot chunks of garlic sausage were sold with robust bread and mustard on the streets of Prague (just months after Czechoslovakia became a democratic country). There was another interesting treat in that beautiful city: “Vaffels.” A window would open in a nondescript building. A sign was hung: “Vaffels.” A crowd would gather. And, out would come the treats. Warm waffles covered in bittersweet chocoate syrup and fresh whipped cream. The cost: Five cents American money, Preposterously delicious. Possibly the best of all street treats are the northern Chinese BBQ carts in the Flushing section of Queens. Truck pulls up at a corner with a retro-fitted charcoal oven. Old lady begins laying out various meats, veggies and seafood over the smoking coals. Dusts them in a mysterious blend of cumin, hot pepper and other spices. Served on a wooden skewer. She’s famous. There’s a long line. Worth the wait. Best chicken in the world.


Celtic Delights. Musical And Culinary.

July 22nd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Seems like everyone —young and old, male and female– on this very Celtic Prince Edward Island plays a musical instrument (mainly fiddle and guitar). And, those that can’t, sing and step dance in lusty fashion. Every town has a weekly Ceiligh (pronounced Kay-lee). This is a traditional Gaelic social gathering with Gaelic folk music and dancing Though it originated in Ireland, Ceilighs are prevalent throughout the Irish and Scottish diaspora (exemplified by PEI). HG and BSK reveled in the sounds of Celtic music on the banks of Rollo Bay at the annual Rollo Bay Fiddlers Festival. This was toe tapping music supreme.

As HG neither dances, sings, fiddles and can barely manage a hand clap in rhythm, he pitched in by consuming an impressive amount of nice, home style, pan fried haddock sandwiches.

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