Month: August 2016

Review: Lobster on the Wharf

2 Prince St., Charlottetown, PEI – Website

Lobster Wharf 1B

Date of Visit: July, 2016

This place, as the name suggests, sits right on the water about a block or so away from the Convention Center on Queen St. It is a very attractive building from the outside and has outdoor decks on three levels, the last of these being on pilings right over the gently lapping harbor waters. I had already had one fix of boiled lobster on my summer visit to the island but I had to have one more before going home. I have to say that, after my meal on the pleasant outside deck, I wished I’d come here first… Continue reading “Review: Lobster on the Wharf”

Notable Nosh: George’s Jumbo Oysters

Georges Jumbos 1

The beauties you see pictured above are the largest oysters I have ever come across on the East coast. You can probably get some idea of the scale from the lemon wedge at the bottom of the platter, but, for reference, the largest was easily the same length as my hand from my wrist to the tip of my middle finger.

Many years ago, my wife and I came across a number of really large ones on the beach at low tide whilst on a vacation on Vancouver Island. We grilled those (leaving them over the flames just until the shells popped open) and they were really delicious. Still, I always rather regretted not sampling one raw from the shell.

I got my chance to try these giant ones at Gallant’s Oyster Bar in Charlottetown, PEI, during my summer vacation. The guy who shucked them for me told me that the name is not an official one. Rather, they are harvested in the same area where the variety known as ‘Green Gables’ are harvested, and he just calls them ‘George’s Jumbos’ because the guy who fishes them happens to be named George. I am not sure, but judging from the shell, these ones must be about 10 years old, or so.

Anyway, I have to say that they were rather a revelation. I had rather suspected that (as with many things) oysters would get tougher and less delicate in flavor as they got older but this proved not to be the case. George’s Jumbos turned out to be every bit as sweet as many of the smaller types I had on that visit to the island. They weren’t quite as briny as, say, the Raspberry Points, or Malpeque’s, but they ended with very pleasant cucumber notes and had a great, chewy texture. I rated them at a decent 3 out of 5.

The Denver Quesadilla

Denver Quesadilla 1

I wonder how many of my readers can remember the Western Denver Sandwich?

At one time, back in the 70’s, they would tend to appear at any restaurant with a Club Sandwich on the menu and I daresay I must have made hundreds of them during my various stints as a short-order cook. Sometimes it was just called a ‘Western Sandwich’, sometimes a ‘Denver Sandwich’, but whatever the moniker, it was pretty much a small omelet containing ham, green pepper and onion, sandwiched between slices of buttered toast (usually with a little Mayo). It was a simple affair (ordered almost always by women, as I recall), but it seems to have gone out of fashion these days and you rarely even hear of them anymore. Tastes change, of course, and fads come and go, but I was thinking that maybe the general idea could make could make a bit of a comeback if it was just jazzed up a little… Maybe with a little American-Mexican fusion? Continue reading “The Denver Quesadilla”

Review: The Brickhouse Kitchen & Bar

125 Sydney St., Charlottetown, PEI – Website

The Brickhouse 1A

Date of Visit: July, 2016

I walked by this place on my very first exploration of downtown Charlottetown and the menu posted outside caught my eye. In particular, I wanted to try their ‘Clam Po’ Boy’ and so I made a point of returning the next day for lunch… Continue reading “Review: The Brickhouse Kitchen & Bar”

Notable Nosh: The Duck Burger

The Duck Burger

My few experiences with Confit of Duck have pretty much been as part of high-end Charcuterie plates, or other expensive restaurant dishes, so I was interested to see this gourmet specialty included in a burger. The impressive sandwich you see pictured above is actually named the ‘Luxe Burger’ and is named (presumably) after the Luxe Bistro where I ate it. It is described on the menu as containing ‘Duck Confit, Cheese Curd, Duck Jus, and Caramelized Onion Mayo’, and it sounded interesting enough to make curious…

By the way, Luxe Bistro, I saw, also does an ‘Obama Burger’, which features grilled pineapple and shaved ham, as well as the simply named ‘Lobster Burger’, which is made with sautéed Lobster, Fontina Cheese, and Garlic Mayo. The latter sounded pretty interesting, if a little rich, but I was on my way to PEI (with expectations of at least one lobster feast during my stay), so I decided against trying it.

Anyway, the Luxe Burger, it turned out, actually contained a regular beef patty with a the duck meat on top. I had expected there to be just the confit meat so I wasn’t sure if I was pleased or disappointed by the actual state of affairs. On reflection though, it strikes me that, without the patty, it wouldn’t, strictly speaking, be a burger, rather just a duck sandwich on a bun.

Well, to cut to the chase, the combination of the beef patty and the duck meat worked very nicely. To be honest, without knowing the additional meat was duck, I might not have guessed what it was, but the combination made for a very rich and meaty goodness that either alone couldn’t have achieved. The burger was garnished with pickle, tomato and lettuce, all of which I like, but I hate burgers that are so stuffed they make messy eating so I ate these separately. I can’t say I could really detect the caramelized onion mayo in particular, but the whole affair was very juicily moist and had a nice additional sweetness so I presume that this came from the condiment. In short, I very much enjoyed this and it has inspired me to maybe try using duck confit in something similar… a tortilla wrap, or taco shells maybe?

My Onion Steak Sandwich

Onion Steak Sandwich 1

I was inspired to make the above sandwich after trying a ‘Texas Beef Brisket Sandwich’ from a local take-out eatery not long ago. I didn’t actually try to reproduce that sandwich exactly, rather I deviated quite a bit from the original while keeping  the two main qualities I really liked. For starters, brisket is not a commonly available cut up here and I needed to substitute for that. Also, whereas the take-out version just used mayonnaise on the buns, I jazzed up my condiment quite a bit.

What I really enjoyed about the Texas sandwich was that the beef was cut into meaty chunks rather than slices or shreds, and, better still, the topping was composed of the those Crispy Fried Onions that I blogged about just recently. As I hinted in that post, I actually made that particular batch of crispy onions with this very sandwich in mind… Continue reading “My Onion Steak Sandwich”

Review: Merchantman

23 Queen St., Charlottetown, PEI – Website

Merchantman 1A

Date of Visit: July, 2016

On the third evening of my visit to Charlottetown, I planned on steak for dinner. Unfortunately, within 5 minutes of ensconcing myself at the restaurant of my choice, a freeform jazz trio started to perform, very loudly, right across the street. Now, I find jazz to be marginally more pleasurable than having shards of glass shoved into my ears so I quickly extricated myself and walked the three blocks or so down Queen Street to the Merchantman. Now, they say you should never order steak in a seafood restaurant, or vice versa, but sometimes, happily, ‘they’ turn out to be wrong… Continue reading “Review: Merchantman”

Notable Nosh: Grilled Salmon Skin

Grilled Salmon Skin

Whenever I grill Salmon or Arctic Char fillets with the skin still attached, I always grill it meat side down for a minute or two just to caramelize the surface, then I finish skin side down for the remainder of the cooking time. The result is a wonderful crisp skin that makes for a lovely tidbit for after the flesh has been eaten. Naturally, you are not limited to just cooking it this way, and the skin can be always be done separately if you are serving skinless fillets. Some like to deep-fry them with a little salt but others (the Japanese in particular) like the smoky depth you get from the grill.

I have featured the dish you see pictured above because it was not only well cooked, but presented very nicely too. Here, the salmon skin has been cut in to neat, uniform rectangles and is obviously not ‘leftover’ skin from a small fillet but rather belly skin intentionally reserved for this purpose. This is a nice choice because of the layer of fat that is absent elsewhere on the fish. The chef, in this case, served the finished pieces over extra thin cucumber matchsticks, and then drizzled everything with either oyster sauce or eel sauce (they taste quite a bit a like). The latter was nice with the cucumber and added just a little extra sweetness to the skin, but it was probably a bit superfluous other than for the nice visual effect…

Anyway, the grill job in this instance was really well done. Often, salmon skin is served very crisp (and this is particularly so with thin pieces without much fat). With the additional smokiness that comes from grilling, I find that the more crisply done pieces have lovely highlights reminiscent of bacon, with the mouth-feel even sometimes being quite similar. Here, though, the slightly fatty pieces have been grilled just to the point where they are crispy on the outer surface but with a lovely unctuousness on the other side. Really, it’s like enjoying uncured pork belly with the added bonus of a wonderful hint of the sea…

Risotto Inglese

Risotto Inglese 1

I had some braised beef leftover from another meal and I ended up using it in a type of dish l I cook for myself quite often. I decided to share it with you here as it is not only a genuinely good comfort food, it illustrates a particular method of rice cookery.

Now, I should begin by saying that, though I grew up calling this sort of meal a ‘Risotto’, it is actually more of a Pilaf. A proper Risotto is made with short-grain rice and a fair amount of hot broth is stirred in a little at a time to produce a creamy, sometimes even ‘soupy’ result. In my family, however, what we call Risotto was always made with long grain rice and was a much drier dish. The flavor was pretty much Italian, though, and we always served it with Parmesan Cheese, so, since this particular version of ‘Risotto’ has its roots in my English childhood, I am going to henceforth call it a ‘Risotto Inglese’… [ Continue reading “Risotto Inglese”

Review: Brakish

2 Lower Water St., Street, Charlottetown, PEI – Website

Brakish 1.jpg

Date of Visit: July, 2016

Brakish is housed in a quaint little building on the waterfront beside the downtown Charlottetown Convention center. It has a good selection of craft beers (and describes itself as a ‘Drinkery’), as well as a decent pub style menu which includes lobster. What enticed me to the  place, though, is that it hosts Gallant’s Oyster Bar on its pleasant back patio overlooking the marina. I had a hankering to try yet more of the local varieties of oyster and, accordingly, I made my way there late on a Sunday afternoon… Continue reading “Review: Brakish”