Prince Edward Island's culinary paradise revealed by local chefs in new book

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A definitive guide to province's tasty wares

Regions such as Tuscany in Italy and Nantucket in the United States are known for their definitive guides to food and wine.

Now three chefs based in Prince Edward Island want visitors to their shores to come away with memories of their very special cuisine.

Regions such as Tuscany in Italy and Nantucket in the United States are known for their definitive guides to food and wine.

Now three chefs based in Prince Edward Island want visitors to their shores to come away with memories of their very special cuisine.

That starts with their newly released cookbook "Flavours of Prince Edward Island: A Culinary Journey" by Jeff McCourt, Allan Williams and Austin Clement (Whitecap, $39.95, paperback).

"P.E.I. is truly a network of fishers, farmers and cooks," says McCourt, speaking on behalf of his fellow authors.

"And it's that kind of relationship we have built up over the years," he says, citing a local market gardener he has cultivated.

"This lady supplies half the city of Charlottetown with fresh herbs," he says. "She calls me every winter and we go over her seed catalogue to see what other produce she wants to grow (for me) in the spring."

Renowned chef Michael Smith who penned the foreword and lives and works on the Island, writes that "we are blessed to know the people that produce our uniquely local and globally special food."

And that is evident throughout the book as chefs McCourt, Williams and Clement tell stories about the Island's cooks, farmers and fishers and their own heady experiences with freshly caught lobsters, oysters, mussels and clams.

And that's not all their tales contain. They write about foraging for mushrooms, buying artisan charcuterie at a farmers market and harvesting fresh cranberries from a local bog.

Other delicacies from the Island pantry are blueberries, potatoes, beef, pork, cheese and, to wash them down, fruit wines and spirits.

Scattered among the prose and recipes are stunning photographs from this culinary paradise by Nova Scotia photographer James Ingram.

P.E.I. mussels are considered "Island Gold." Over 17 million kilograms (38 million pounds) are harvested and shipped worldwide and are served in restaurants as far-flung as New York, Chicago and Tokyo.

Here from the book is a recipe for mussel salad.

Marinated Mussel Salad

125 ml (1/2 cup) sliced white onion

50 ml (1/4 cup) minced garlic

30 ml (2 tbsp.) olive oil

125 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine

2.2 kg (5 lb) mussels, cleaned

125 ml (1/2 cup) thinly sliced fennel

125 ml (1/2 cup) thinly sliced carrots

125 ml (1/2 cup) thinly sliced red bell pepper

125 ml (1/2 cup) thinly sliced green bell pepper

125 ml (1/2 cup) thinly sliced yellow bell pepper

50 ml (1/4 cup) chopped fresh basil

50 ml (1/4 cup) chopped fresh parsley

30 ml (2 tbsp.) chopped fresh tarragon

15 ml (1 tbsp.) lemon zest

175 ml (3/4 cup) citrus vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Salt and pepper

In a medium pot, saute white onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add white wine and mussels, cover and cook on high until the shells open, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove mussels from pot, allow them to cool and remove meat from the shells.

Reduce juice that is left in the pot by half. Let cool and reserve. Toss mussel meat, vegetables, herbs and lemon zest with 250 ml (1 cup) of the cooled cooking liquid.

Add citrus vinaigrette and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 servings as a main course and 8 as an appetizer.

Citrus Vinaigrette 50 ml (1/4 cup) white wine vinegar

30 ml (2 tbsp.) orange juice

30 ml (2 tbsp.) lime juice

30 ml (2 tbsp.) lemon juice

30 ml (2 tbsp.) chopped chives

15 ml (1 tbsp.) chopped tarragon

10 ml (2 tsp.) Dijon mustard

250 ml (1 cup) extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except oil, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Vinaigrette can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Makes 375 ml (1 1/2 cups).

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Tuscany, Italy Nantucket United States Charlottetown Nova Scotia New York Chicago Tokyo

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