Today we checked out of the Hotel on Pownal and headed out of Charlottetown. Our first stop was to the Rossignal Estate Winery at the south-eastern point of the Island (marked on the map above).
The scenery there was breathtaking as you can see. Owner & winemaker John Rossignol wakes up to this every morning.
We first were given the opportunity to tour the grounds: from the vineyards, to the orchards, and even take in the number of sand sculptures that were there.
We then headed inside where John Rossignol took us on an extensive tour of the operations of the winery while we sipped on both white & red grape wines, as well as blackberry mead and cassis.
While we were inside tasting and touring, Chef Ross Munro (and his assistant) of Red Door Oyster Company had arrived and set up his makeshift kitchen in the orchard along with dining tables for us to have lunch:
Before sitting down to feast on our lunch in the middle of the orchard, Chef Ross gave us an in depth talk and Q&A session about oysters. He taught the group how to properly shuck oysters and let us slurp down as many as we could.
I was very impressed. Not only with his knowledge and level of expertise, but also how good they tasted. I have to be honest with you: I have never been a fan of raw oysters and today, these oysters, changed that for me. They were incredible; so much flavour. The first one I had was naked... No, my clothes were on... I'm talking about the oyster here, stay focused. Naked meaning nothing but the oyster; no added condiments or flavours. I couldn't believe how good they were. I then continued to slurp down about a half dozen of these tasty critters. Chef Ross had made a couple of homemade condiments for these that were great: a homemade seafood sauce and a blueberry shallot topping.
We were then seated in the orchard while Chef Ross and his assistant prepared us lobster rolls made with freshly baked Gouda Biscuits and a great tossed green salad.
It was a beautiful day in the orchard as we dined. It was sunny and about 15 degrees with a slight breeze and the food was amazing.
Then came dessert: a cake somewhere in between sponge cake and pound cake in a mason jar, topped with fresh berries, small cubes Apple right off the tree in that orchard, and bourbon vanilla bean whipped cream. We rolled out of the winery with our bellies full of wine and one of the most delicious lunches so far.
On our travels we then stopped in Pamure Island Provincial Park to see the oldest wooden lighthouse on PEI. It was very picturesque:
We then arrived at the 5-Star Inn at Bay Fortune and the home of Chef Michael Smith:
The grounds were amazing:
The aroma of warm inviting wood smoke was the first thing that hit me as we pulled up the drive. they cook everything here with open fires. Good old fashion cooking with wood and that's it.
We were treated with respect and welcoming hospitality as they checked us into our rooms.
These are shots of my room and I really wish my wife Katherine was here to appreciate this with me. It is not the same without her:
We were then welcome to roam the property inside and out:
At 6:00pm it was time to start what they call "Oyster Happy Hour"! There were two outside fire stations (one with duck tacos and one with homemade lamb sausage served with seed mustard and fresh herbs from their garden), and two inside stations (one with salmon on homemade seed crackers, and the other with raw Fortune Bay Oysters served with Bloody Mary Ice - I had about a half dozen of these too!):
Yes, they keep a tally on how many oysters they have shucked each year. I am sure that tonight we brought them to 34,000 - I'll have to check the updated total tomorrow and let you know.
Then 7:00pm came before we knew it and the wonderful Fireworks Feast menu they had planned for us was about to begin:
Here are the 6 courses we were served AFTER the 4 appetizers we had already. We literally sat in the same room where they prepared this incredible meal (and they even invited me behind the counter to prepare the dressing for the salad course). We were not the only ones there for dinner - there were 39 people total tonight (people can come for dinner even if you are not staying at the Inn), but we did receive preferential treatment. Unfortunately Chef Michael had an unexpected delayed meeting in town and couldn't arrive until the dinner was almost through, but he did greet us with open arms and warm welcomes. He was only there for a few moments tonight but the group felt genuinely welcomed by him and he will be with us tomorrow, so expect some more great pictures and stories. I almost forgot: his head Chef Coby dined with us tonight and he will be heading the team tomorrow for another incredible Fireworks Feast tomorrow night, but completely different menu. I need to get to bed now because breakfast starts at 8am and I know it will be just as incredible.
Until next time... Happy Cooking!
Oh yeah, I promised you the pictures of the 6 courses for dinner! Here they are (see the menu photo posted above for descriptions) along with some other fun photos from the dinner:
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