Tuesday 23 June 2015

Are You There Wine? It's Me, Potato. My Trip to PEI.

We are still in Atlantic Canada and I'm sure Atlantic Canada is thrilled with that.

We recently visited Prince Edward Island for the weekend. As we have discussed before, I'm not afraid to travel, well, I'm terrified but I never give up on something that scares me. Never.

The best things in life are those things that scare you the most.

 Celiacs is something that I have, it doesn't have me. Nothing decides my life for me, least of all a selfish bitch like Celiacs. So, I went to PEI because no one is going to do it for me.

Prince Edward Island is the smallest province in Canada. It's so teeny tiny that you can drive from tip to tip in about 4 hours. It is just about the most beautiful place in the world, which is why it has changed hands so often. PEI was originally (like everything else) the home of the native Canadians who believed that the Great Spirit placed the red clay in the ocean in the shape of a crescent.

What a beautiful thought. Hey, let's ruin it.

The French then took it over and the British took it over from the French. At one point, the Americans tried to take it over during the revolution. Finally, like the Kardashian Clan they are, the British Monarchy named it Prince Edward Island after the Duke of Kent's son, Edward.

Daddy loves me so much he took over an Island and named it after me. #Blessed #BitchesLoveTheIsland #Balling

The most famous city in PEI is Charlottetown where the Canadian Confederation was signed in 1864. It's all very historical and pretty and lovely.

Is PEI Celiac friendly?

In a word? Yes.

Mainly because it grows the best potatoes in the world and has gorgeous wine to go with it so I was a happy Celiac for most of the time.

We are not a family that can just figure things out as we go. I wish we could but because of my Celiacs I have to plan ahead. I am a spontaneous gal (read, spastic) and like it when things feel organic and magical but my Celiacs determines that planning ahead has to happen. If not, I will spend all vacations either sick or starving. In order to balance out the two sides of myself, I make a list.

I research every single Gluten Free option in a 50 Kilometre radius of where we are going. I either save them on my phone or write them out and keep it with maps and travel paperwork. This list includes, every restaurant or bakery that lists itself as gluten free, every chain restaurant that I know I can eat at from experience (although, I hate eating at chain restaurants while we are travelling, seems like a waste), every grocery store that in a pinch can provide me with a frozen gluten free meal and finally, the most risky option, the restaurants that I think I could probably eat at but they don't list themselves as gluten aware.

That way, we can wander and feel aimless while I still have options to eat.

I, of course, had to bring a cooler full of boiled eggs, GF pepperoni sticks and gluten free crackers in case there was nothing I could eat, anywhere. This is the worst case scenario. There is nothing quite so pathetic as biting into a cold, old, hard boiled egg while your family eats hot dogs and ice cream cones. I always feel like Charlie Brown when he has that sad rain cloud over his head.

I have a sad food cloud.

It's better than getting sick I guess.

So armed with my list, we set out for PEI and were amazed by the beauty of the Island but overall weren't too dazzled with the people. We went at the end of June and were continuously faced with locked doors and closed signs with the explanation that 'it wasn't the tourist season'. I found this to be a very bizarre policy. Here I am, a tourist, with money to spend and I was informed that it wasn't my time to show up.

How about if I decide when I want to show up because I 'm the tourist? How bout that?

Still, we saw most of the Island and all the important parts including the areas where Lucy Maude Montgomery was born and did most of her writing. Don't know who LM Montogomery is? She wrote Anne of Green Gables. Don't know who Anne of Green Gables is?  Don't admit that in public, especially in Canada. Google it. Don't ask anyone because you will lose all their respect. Look it up now because I am going to mention it again in this post and I'm going to get pissed off if you keep asking stupid questions. Go, google it. I'l wait....

You back? Excellent. Let's move on.

We went to the wax museum where everyone from Princess Diana to Michael Jordan just looked like different versions of Nick Noltle. The kids loved it though. We also saw the Ripley's Museum which was far more impressive than I expected. We also went to Sandspit Amusement Park which has a wicked fun roller coaster.

We saw the gorgeous red shores, blue water and vibrantly green grass. Basically, PEI is shockingly beautiful. It's so gorgeous that you expect Peter Pan or a Hobbit to walk past you at any moment. You have to see it, you just have to.

Where did I eat? Here's the list.

1) The Rodd Charlottetown Hotel- This is where we stayed and I loved it! Loved! It's an older hotel with all the charm of the set of Downton Abbey. Gorgeous views, right in the middle of downtown and amazing staff. I had breakfast there and the staff had no problem with my special order. They offered Gluten Free toast but I wasn't in the mood. We really enjoyed the lounge with the bartender Kim and oh look, wine.

2) The Dundee Arms Inn- This is an Inn right beside ours. It looked like a really cute place to stay too. We ate dinner there the first night and man was it great. I had The Island Potato Bruschetta.
This dish was crazy good. It was like an elevated potato skin. Delish. Loved it. Great service too. Wine list was extensive and not overly priced. Had two glasses, they were large and in liquid form.

3) Fishbones - Located on Victoria Row the pedestrian walkway in Charlottetown that is filled with bars and restaurants. They were playing live music and we had to wait for the patio which was worth the wait. It was my favourite meal in Charlottetown. I had the Lobster Risotto and it was amazing. Service was good. Another great wine list, a little pricier than the other places in town. The only weird thing was that the live music stopped at 8pm. The patios are full, people are milling about and enjoying the only warm night of the week and the city pulled the last performer off the stage. It was strange. Like we had all been bad at a kids party and the clown was refusing to work under these conditions.

4) Shaddy's Restaurant - Located in Charlottetown. Had this place on my list as a huge hopeful for a great family meal. We didn't even walk in. The windows were dark, the sign was falling off, there was vomit on the sidewalk outside and the door handle was sticky. Ewwwww. This is where I pulled out my list and got to work finding an alternative. We ended up at Fishbones and were happy with the change.

5) Fisherman's Wharf Lobster Suppers - Located in North Rustico. Lobster Suppers are the best thing ever. It's like all you can eat, only with mussels and lobster. They all feel a little touristy but they are awesome. I had lobster and, of course, wine....shocker.

6) Reds Corner Restaurant - Located in Montague (the town names are awesome) PEI along the coastal highway drive. We stumbled upon it on Trip Advisor and could not have been happier. I, again, had a baked potato and a Greek Salad. They were great. Our server Stan seemed to have a great understanding of Celiacs and did a great job taking care of the whole family. A must stop on the way to the Wood Island Ferry.

7) Red Island Baked Potato - Left the best for last here. I can't tell you how much I loved this place. It is tucked away in Avonlea Village in Cavendish. (Avonlea is the small town near Green Gables where Anne (with an E) lived in the book written by Lucy Maude Montgomery who lived....you know what? Fuck it. If you haven't Googled it by now, you suck. )

Refocus - Red Island Baked Potato is a gem of a place tucked in this little touristy boardwalk village. I stopped there because they had a sign out front that said they had Gluten Free Options. I would encourage all places to have a little sign out front to advertise gluten free options. I'm not going to go into every single restaurant I see to ask you. I'm either too lazy or drunk so just put up a sign okay?

Red Island Baked Potato sells just that, Baked Potatoes with a kick and a side of love. It is run by Lucie and Mark who were the only Islanders who didn't berate us for having the audacity to show up three days before tourist season. They welcomed us with open arms and told me all about the menu and the gluten free options. Everything looked fantastic but I settled in on "The Islander" a baked potato with all the fixings and a side of slaw and pickle.

I got to eat this....I'm not kidding. I got to EAT this instead of eating my sad food.

If you are going to PEI and you go to see the Anne of Green Gables stuff (again, google it) you simply MUST stop here. Great food, great people and one happy Celiac.

So overall, PEI offered up some solid Gluten Free options. Don't be afraid to add it to your bucket list. In fact, I insist upon it. Make a list, take a deep breath and hope for the best.

Celiacs doesn't mean you can't be you anymore. It means you just have to make a list now and then. It means you have to take a calculated chance once in a while. It means you can't be as spontaneous as Anne and Diana when walking past the Lake of Shining Waters (for fuck sakes look it up!)

 Celiacs also means that you might just find gorgeous food, made by wonderful people on the prettiest island in the world, even if it was named after a spoiled little prince.

Go be a Celiac in PEI....I dare you.


  1. Hey, it's Marc from Red Island Baked Potato. We opened a permanent location in Cornwall, PEI. We're doing very well and we have even more GF options. Check out out FB for dets.

  2. Marc from RIBP sent me to your blog... enjoyed the write up...great balance of humour, education, wine, and a sprinkling of F-bombs...

    yeah "tourist season" is weird here... truth be told if those places with the boarded up windows tried to open in "non tourist season" they'd lose money... sometimes us Islanders like to hide in our Hobbit holes and forget to try new exciting things that tourists love...

    I'm off the Island at the moment but I'll be heading to RIBP sooooooooon...