On my last bit of writing about the delicious dishes that we sampled along the East Coast and up in Canada, I mentioned (and cooked) the "Pappardelle Pasta with Lobster in Cognac Cream Sauce" for Patrick's birthday dinner last weekend.
This creamy and rich pasta dish was one of our highlight meals enjoyed at an amazing resort, The Dalvay-by-the-Sea on Prince Edward Island. Along with this "pappardelle pasta" dish, we enjoyed many steaming bowls of clam chowder, lobster chowder, and a wonderful seafood stew.
Because I love big generous bowls of soup, chowders, and stews, I knew that recreating a Seafood Stew for us to enjoy for Sunday Supper would be a wonderful way to recapture some of the fresh and briny flavors we enjoyed on the island. I enjoyed picking out fresh clams, shrimp, and and an assortment of fish to make up the stew. Along with a loaf of hearty sourdough and a bottle of white wine, we enjoyed a simple supper filled with memories of a wonderful summer road trip.
Also, down here in Texas, the markets are still stocked with beautiful peaches. Summer extends well into September here and I couldn't end the summer season without checking off something made with the beautiful creamy yellow peaches with white flesh that I've noticed at the market.
White fleshed peaches are something new to me in recent years. Their origin is Asian but they are now grown more and more here in the U.S. The flesh is a pale blush champagne color and the flavor is soft and sweet. In a blink, they'll be gone so we were determined the weekend would include using my abundance of peaches by cooking them into a peach pie.
So much of the land we travelled this summer on our road trip was maritime. The briny air and the small colorful harbor town residents make their living off of the fruits pulled from the sea. Everywhere we stopped for a bite to eat, the menus were packed with dishes that included lobster, clams, mussels, oysters, and shrimp. From soups and stews to lobster quiches and lobster rolls, the influence of the sea is found everywhere along the coast.
I was looking for a nice white wine to have with our stew. At the market, my eye caught the label of a bottle called Lost Maples. We really enjoyed the light crisp but not too sweet flavor of this label. After a little research, however, I discovered that the grapes are not grown in Texas, just bottled and cellared in this state.
Disappointed a bit at first, we ultimately decided that it was a good bottle, it went very well with my seafood stew, and that we would probably buy it again...but know that it is not "Texan" in truth.
What I can "sing the praises" of, however, is this White Peach Pie! I struggled with the crust. I don't have a terrific amount of patience with pie crust. I am so afraid to over handle it that I usually err on the side of underhandling to the point where it is difficult to roll out.
I keep trying to put parchment paper on the bottom and another layer of parchment paper on top so that the dough will not stick to my countertop. Over and over again, I resort to using a strip of saran wrap (cling wrap) for the bottom layer and the top layer. I find this much easier to handle as well as easy to transfer to my pie plate.
All that being said, this is an excellent pie crust recipe. The combination of butter and lard yields a wonderful flaky crust. As I was cutting out the fall leaves to wrap around the edge of the pie, I could see the layers of crust in the cutouts indicating how flaky the end result would be. Delicious. Pie on the weekends at our house, means leftover pie during the week!
We've had fun telling Patrick the stories from this trip. After assembling the photos, I tell him about each segment of the trip as I pull the images together.
This was the sight before us during our last leg up to P.E.I. This is the Confederation Bridge that links the northern tip of New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island, Canada. Riley and I were beaming from ear to ear. We made it! On the other side of that bridge was our destination. From deep southern Texas, to Cape Cod, to Maine, and then finally up to P.E.I. What a journey it was!
We were thrilled to be the guests at the gracious Dalvay-by-the-Sea, dine in their restaurant, and indulge in their English High Tea. I had poured over their website and was eager to experience a resort not only with such wonderful history but located so remotely on the northern side of the island.
From an aerial photograph that I saw, there is the ocean, the dunes, and then The Dalvay...with not much else around but natural wild coastline.
So first we had to get across this enormous and breathtaking bridge, cross up and over lush green rolling hills and pass one quaint farm after farm filled with fields of plump round balls of hay. It was hay gathering season on the island and hay trucks were moving these big round balls all over the island to prepare for winter.
We arrived on the island close to dusk. I think what I love most about Prince Edward Island is the evening light. The combination of the way the light falls on the various fields of green, taupe, yellow, and plum shades of color paint the scenery in such a way that looks soft and gentle. No wonder the island is nicknamed "The Gentle Island".
We were rolling along for about 40 minutes, crossing the island, when I noticed that my GPS was not telling me what to do. With the dawning realization that the GPS would not work on the island, Riley and I looked at each other with complete helplessness.
The light was quickly fading, the terrain was becoming increasingly remote, and we had no idea how to proceed further. The Dalvay is located on the very edge of the sea on the northern side of the island, so we knew we would be driving in an isolated area as it is.
Technology is such a best friend when it is working, but when it is not, it is a pretty miserable state of affairs.
After becoming hopelessly lost, we stopped at a teeny tiny and what appeared to be the only little shop around. The door creaked loudly when we walked in and there was only a faint light streaming in from the window near the counter.
A very old man was sitting there. He chuckled when he heard our dilemma because apparently we were one of a string of lost Dalvay resort seekers, seemingly desperate, with a look of mild panic in our eyes...forlornly lost, without the aid of technology...or any landmarks of any kind really to guide us in the inky darkness of this remote area. He calmly took a napkin, drew us a simple map, and with a twinkle in his eye, sent us on our way. Fortunately, we were only about 2 miles away.
Dalvay-by-the-Sea. Isn't she lovely? This was the morning view early the next day right after the sun slid over the water and cast a rosy glow over the restored home, now resort.
Even in the darkness of the night before, as we finally turned into the drive that brings one to this serene spot, we could tell we were in a special place indeed.
Completely exhausted from arriving late in the evening, we could think of nothing but moving very slowly the next morning. True to my nature, however, I was up with the roosters...or the geese, I should say. The geese were honking loudly in large flocks that swooped down and settled right down on the sweet lake...that was right outside our room. It was beautiful, and magical...the sounds of the honking was so foreign to my ears. They were beautiful as they floated gracefully in a group and gently landed in pairs on the shimmering surface of the water.
|Sunrise across the road from the Dalvay-by-the-Sea|
While I was laying in bed, watching the activity on the lake outside, thinking how absolutely fortunate I was to have this experience, I heard faint keynotes of sound.
The Dalvay plays soft piano tunes throughout the resort early in the morning about an hour before the dining room opens for breakfast. The piano notes seemed to come out of some historic time period. One can't help but think of what it must have been like for the family that built and lived in this remote and hauntingly beautiful island spot.
Downstairs, hot coffee and tea are laid out early in the morning for early rising guests (like me) in front of a roaring fire. A huge handsome grey stone fireplace lines the wall and the crackling of the wood burning against the faint crooning of the piano was the most pleasant way to start the day.
Downstairs, I settled into one of the comfortable chairs and turned through the pages of an enormous old photo album of the MacDonald family. The sense of history permeates the Dalvay-by-the-sea, and learning about its past cannot be avoided and must be appreciated. Just a few years ago, Prince William brought Princess Kate to the Island and they spent a few days right here in this very resort. Certainly, more history is being made that will be remembered for years to come.
The Dalvay was built in 1895 by Alexander MacDonald, a successful businessman and one-time president of Standard Oil Company with John D. Rockefeller. Originally from Scotland, MacDonald left home to seek his fame and fortune in the U.S...and that he did.
Alexander and his wife, Laura, raised a daughter who unfortunately died as a young mother. She left behind 2 daughters who were not only raised at The Dalvay home on P.E.I., but travelled with their grandparents all over the world.
Dalvay-by-the-Sea was named after Alexander's boyhood home in Scotland. It was on one of their many travels that they discovered Prince Edward Island and bought the spot where the resort now resides.
In 2000, a full dining room expansion was completed. The new dining facility is a gently curved room off the main house, offering views of Dalvay Lake from every table. All original materials were used to create the addition so it would retain the look and feel of the original part of the house.
After having walked the beach at sunrise, lulled by the soft music playing throughout the house, I was ready for Riley to meet me in the breakfast room.
The dining room is elegant with a touch of old world Scottish comfort. The view is relaxing and the windows open out allowing for soft breezes to fill the room.
We were so happy to finally have arrived at our destination. No more driving for the next week...just relaxation, reading, biking, and exploring the island.
I asked Riley what he wanted to do first thing. He wanted to go bike riding along the ocean. The Dalvay is so remote because it is located within the Prince Edward Island National Park. The island has transformed an old railroad track that runs all along the northern rim of the island into a biking pathway. Many people come to the island just to ride the length of the path, now called "The Confederation Trail".
We rented bikes at The Dalvay and pedaled our way along the trail which is across a little park road from the ocean. When we were tired of riding, we parked the bikes and walked for miles along the almost desolate ocean.
We truly felt as if we were at the tip of the world. The water was chilly and the dunes extended out as far as the eye could see. Imagining the family living here so long ago and walking along this very ocean created a indelible image.
After a couple of days of resting up, biking, and beach walking...we were curious to see other parts of the island. We drove over softly rolling hills and working farm towns out west toward the little town of Tignish.
There is a map of potters that direct people from one adorable pottery shop to another. As we moved from one stop to the next, I couldn't help imagining what it must be like going through a winter on the island after all the tourists depart.
When we got hungry, we stopped at a little seafood stop called Carr's Oyster Bar near Stanley Bridge about 30 minutes west of Cavendish. As we were enjoying oysters and lobster stew, the oyster boats were literally puttering in and out of the harbor directly across from us.
We thoroughly enjoyed watching them hoist the sacs of oysters from the boats, load them into trucks and trundle away to the warehouse for cleaning and transporting.
We were soon drawn, however, back to the sereneness of The Dalvay-by-the-Sea. I believe it is one of the most beautiful spots on the island. The air of gentility and old world decor is so handsome and relaxing.
Much of the stone used to build the home and the fireplace came from the island. The way the light filters in through the resort is soft, alluring, and gives the impression of being only candlelit.
And who isn't a fan of the classic books Anne of Green Gables? The Dalvay played an enchanting role as the backdrop for some of the scenes of the movies. The producers of Road to Avonlea first used Dalvay for the Anne of Green Gables movies showing Anne (Megan Follows) going to a recital at the White Sands Hotel. Anne loses her paper sheets all over the dunes with the hotel in the background. Imagine!
We were invited to dine in the dining room for an evening meal one night compliments of the Dalvay. At this point, I had grown fond of the staff at the Dalvay and enjoyed hearing bits and pieces of their life stories each day.
There was kind John, who recently studied hotel management in Dallas, Texas. He was excited that we were from far away Texas as he just experienced a bit of our very southern culture. If I needed bug spray the sweet girl at the front desk pulled some out of a drawer and loaned the bottle to me. Coming in exhausted one day, I was brought a cup of hot Lady Slipper tea to my room.
As we watched the golden glow of sunset hour touch upon the lake in front of the Dalvay, this creamy dish of Pappardelle Pasta with Lobster in a Cream Sauce was brought to the table. I knew after the third bite it was going to be recreated in my kitchen after the trip. I wrote about it here for Patrick's birthday last weekend and I've already been requested to make it again in the future.
Our young waitress was from Nova Scotia and I found her accent delightful. I was slowly picking up on the different lilting qualities of the accents from Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Foundland. There is a little bit of a Scottish lift in the pacing of the words along with the more familiar earnest rounded vowels of the Canadian accent.
I do believe Sticky Toffee Pudding (bottom:right) is going to land on my Christmas menu this year. I had never heard of this dessert but I'm thrilled to make its acquaintance now. Delicious thick cake heavily spiced with ginger and dates sits in a pool of warm caramel toffee sauce with hints of vanilla. I can very honestly say the food at The Dalvay was delicious, classic, and well presented.
One of the splendid highlights of our stay was indulging in an afternoon of English High Tea in the dining room. Thank you to the Dalvay...our afternoon enjoying the graceful presentation of three tiers of finger sandwiches, fresh fruits, and an assortment of sweets was...indeed a highlight.
Eight varieties of tea were offered and I chose the "Lady's Slipper" blend. I enjoyed it so much I have been hunting for it here in Houston, but without success. Here is the description of the tea:
"Please your palate with this amber-hued smooth, elegant blend of high quality black teas from the verdant tea plantations of China’s Hunan province. A complex, full-bodied tea infused with citrusy oil of bergamot from Calabria’s lonian coast and warm delicately floral notes of Vanilla."
|wild heather grows all over the island|
As daintily as we could (Riley isn't dainty, but he had no problem enjoying these sumptuous treats) we enjoyed scones with Devonshire Cream topped with vanilla sea salt, prosciutto wrapped around asparagus and cream cheese, cucumber sandwiches and little morsels of that delicious Sticky Toffee Pudding.
After the delightful high tea, I spent some time enjoying the kitchen garden on the side of the house. A few hummingbirds flitted in an out, tomatoes, cabbages, peas, and all sorts of herbs found a spot in the garden.
It was with a heavy heart indeed that I said goodbye to the Dalvay-by-the-Sea. We had such a rejuvenating stay there playing tennis, reading, taking walks along the beach and enjoying lovely meals.
If there must be attention paid anywhere to this historic resort, I would steer efforts towards updating the rooms to bring them up to caliber with the resort as a whole. In keeping with the historic atmosphere of this unique family home, the rooms need to gently move into a more modern era in terms of attention to detail and updated amenities.
We pulled out of the long drive leading away from the resort, away from the flocks of geese and the soft lulling piano tunes that gently wake up the guests. We steered to an area called St. Peter's Bay.
St. Peter's Bay is an area to the east of The Dalvay . With our remaining days left on the island, I wanted to experience a family home...a B&B.
In planning the trip, I settled on a cozy B&B called "Shady Lane" and we drove away in search of our next destination on Prince Edward Island.
So this story doesn't end here. There is just a bit more sweetness and scenery yet to come. We spent 3 days with the endlessly delightful couple, Ian and Pam Rowe in their tucked away home off of St. Peter's Bay on a windy little shady lane. Here we truly felt less like tourists and more like locals as we ate Ian's wonderful egg cups with freshly made pesto and Pam's Apple Betty for breakfast. We shopped, biked, and enjoyed the little town of Morell and St. Peter's Bay.
More to come...