Spring is in the air! With good weather on the horizon, that means we will soon be sitting on patios and eating outside. Last summer saw the arrival of some cool new food trucks on the scene and that list will only grow this year. On top of this, the winter provided the opportunity for cooks and bakers to try their hand at something new and I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the awesome pop-ups I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy.
First up is the Local Supper Club. Headed by some of PEI’s best young chefs (Hunter Guindon, Lucy Morrow, Cobey Adams, Logan Rafuse, among others) this monthly event has been one of the most exciting culinary events I’ve attended in a long time. These dinners have showcased the wide-range of skills these chefs have obtained alongside their collaborative approach to cooking. One of my favourite courses was a perfectly cooked local lamb chop cut tomahawk-style served with a fermented blueberry sauce. They’ve also consistently nailed their fresh pasta course: at the first supper there was a beautiful double stuffed pasta featuring local duck and a parsnip puree. These dinners are limited and not cheap, but all of the proceeds go to charity and the food experience is one of the most unique on the Island. Oh and you can’t beat the value on the wine pairings, $25 for five glasses of wine, one of the best values anywhere!
It can’t all be about the savoury: sometimes you need something sweet. We’ve been really lucky to have some cool cookie and doughnut pop-ups come along in the recent months. Next Level Cookies, headed by Jordan Cameron, has a unique take on the traditional sandwich cookie. My favourite features popcorn and buttercream.
Representing the eternal battle between yeast and cake doughnuts are Mellow Dough on the side of yeast and Doughnuts by Design on the side of cake. Both do justice to their respective form of doughnut. With Mellow Dough expect beautiful fluffy big doughnuts; Doughnuts by Design have the perfect ratio of cool toppings to cake.
Nigel Thompson of Sneaky Cheats has been doing his thing at the firehall monthly for awhile now, but lately he has been consistently there on Friday nights over the last couple of months. Nigel puts his spin on Southern cuisine. I think the highest compliment you can give a meal is when it is so good you order the same again immediately. I have to say I’ve done that more than once with Sneaky Cheats. Get anything with pork belly, get two bologna sandwiches and if he has any kind of soup on the menu, get on it.
And then there is the king of the pop-up, Robert Pendergast. I’ve never seen anyone wrestle so much flavour from humble ingredients, he’s a magician of a chef. And of course, Rob is as much a storyteller as a chef, he has a seemingly endless depth of knowledge about Island ingredients. If you notice that Rob is out cooking somewhere whether it’s shucking oysters, cooking an Acadian meal or, doing pretty much anything, there’s no question it’s worth checking out.
It is pretty clear that there are a lot of innovative pop-ups happening across the Island. Most exciting, however, is that come Summer we’re going to get to add our favourite food trucks to the list. Some of my favourites are Holy Fox (often at Copper Bottom), Terry’s Berries (lobster melt!) and Truckin’ Roll for their amazing hand rolled ice cream.