Farm To Fork

Inn at Bay FortuneMany people today are more and more willing to try flavours from other countries and cultures around the world.  In part, this is due to the convenience of travel, making the world a smaller place and making previously exotic ingredients more readily available.  The desire to make each other’s cuisine at home and the demand for ethnic cuisine in North American towns and cities is growing.  Here on Prince Edward Island, you don’t have to look far for food culture, and you don’t have to go far to find the ingredients as many local farmers are now growing a greater variety of ingredients to meet increasing local demand.  Our picnic basket has developed quite a refined palate over its journey around the Island – from exquisite breakfasts to delightful afternoon treats.  The basket has had a wonderful adventure to this point, but it was looking forward to its next objective – appearing at an inn known as being a fine dining culinary destination.

Our picnic basket arrived on the beautiful veranda at The Inn At Bay Fortune.  The Inn is best known throughout Canada for its “Farm to Table” philosophy and innovative use of Island products from both local farmers and fishers and also from its own garden.

In meeting innkeeper David Wilmer, the basket learned that the Inn was originally the private summer home for Broadway Playwright Elmer Harris, who purchased the property in 1908 and built what is now the Main Inn as his summer home in 1913.  The Inn also has its own connection to Anne Shirley, as it  was also the former summer home of actress Colleen Dewhurst (Marilla in the Anne of Green Gables TV Series).  In 1988 David and his family bought the property and renovated it into an inn  and restaurant, now in its 26th year of operation.

The Inn is also proud to be the home of the former TV cooking show “The Inn Chef”, which featured Inn at Bay Fortune chef emeritus and popular Food Network Canada host Chef Michael Smith.  The television series began airing in September, 1998 on the Life Channel .  the show was in production throughout the summer of 1998 at the Inn.  Another season taping began in April, 1999, and again in 2000.  A total of 65 episodes were filmed at The Inn At Bay Fortune.  The series showcased the kitchen gardens of the Inn with an interesting format demystifying the creation of haute cuisine and making it accessible to the home cook.

From The Inn At Bay Fortune and a variety of locations throughout Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, host and chef Michael Smith created imaginative , artistic menus catering to the connoisseur, the traveler, the comedian and just about anyone who loves food.

Gardens at the Inn at Bay FortuneThe first step in being a foodie is to be curious about food.  It’s no great secret that the picnic basket is a foodie – after all, it is what it contains best.  Ever the wanderer, the picnic basket definitely got around and into the thick of things quickly at the Inn.  First it checked out the kitchen –  hanging out at the Chef’s Table, then into the walk-in cooler to check out what was in store for dinner.  One of the things that can make or break a good meal is the quality of produce you use and it isn’t hard to find good produce on Prince Edward Island, especially when it is grown and picked fresh from the garden directly outside your kitchen door. Later that day, the picnic basket was out in the garden with Chef Dana Wood to see what might be good on the menu for the evening entrees.  The garden was bountiful, as Chef Dana and his kitchen crew stuffed the picnic basket  with more than one could eat at a single sitting.  Guests taste-buds were going to be singing!

Picnic Basket in the Inn at Bay Fortune KitchenNext the basket was given an opportunity of a life time in helping Chef Dana select the wines that would be paired with the menu for the evening.  It got a little overzealous, as it couldn’t resist the vast selections it found in the wine cellar.  The basket was caught sneaking into the wine cellar and filling its woven-self full of wines from the nova Scotia winery Benjamin Bridge.  An excellent choice!  Perhaps it was doing a bit of research before offering feedback to Chef Dana.  Hmm, we’ll go with that.  Chef was starting to think this picnic basket was a foodie, as it nearly spent all of its time perched comfortably in the kitchen – asking about seasoning food, observing knife techniques, and carefully watching how to artistically plate the food.

As exciting as it was for the basket to be a part of the kitchen service for an evening, it quickly learned from Chef Dana that you can’t learn everything there is to learn about food in one day.  You continue to learn everyday and if you keep everything balanced and absorb all things in moderation, you will be a foodie in no time.  Don’t be afraid to try new things, you never know where they will take you!

Do you consider yourself a foodie?  What is the most exotic ingredient you have consumed?  Share with us your story by commenting below.  We can’t wait to read your stories!