Thursday, 29 May 2014

A Lobster Extravaganza at The Row House Lobster Co.

Happy One-Hundred, everyone! This post is number 100 in all of the adventures that I've shared with you and as I sat back and tried to decide what would mark this fantastic milestone something jumped out of me in all in shiny and new glory!

What's that something, you ask? Well, it's actually some place and it just happens to be one of Downtown Charlottetown's newest (and in my opinion hippest) restaurants! The Row House Lobster Co. is nestled at the center of Victoria Row and everything about it speaks to Summer, enjoyment and the freshness of the sea itself. Everything at the Row House is infused with Island charm that'll steal your heart from it's rustically chic atmosphere right down to the menu which is loaded with inventive and delectable takes on Lobster.

Now you understand why I chose to pay the Row House a visit for number one-hundred, don't you?

Oh, and did I mention that I'm practically a lobster virgin? It might be difficult to believe, but in my life I've had all of two, minute tastes of lobster. The Row House changed all of that, turning me into a total lobster lover! And truly, I'm never going back! This taste of pure PEI was way too impressive and I have a feeling I'll be trusting the Row House with all my lobster needs in the future, because honestly, that food was good enough to marry.

Chef Erin Henry worked magic with these fantastic crustaceans that must be tasted to be believed! Offering everything from Tacos to Lollipops and of course the ever classic Church Supper, lobster gets the five-star treatment in every way. It was so difficult to choose from their menu that the only way I could decide was to tell myself that I'd be back again and again to sample the entire thing!

As for today, I tried two different takes on lobster and dessert; so I'll stop torturing you and let you in on the goods!

For starters I went with the PEI Lobster Poutine, which consists of hand cut, PEI Potato fries, butter poached, lobster, béchamel, cheese curds and a touch of "this is the best thing ever". Right from the start, this poutine has a presence that commands your attention, with its colorful and artistic presentation to the scent of heavenly creaminess. It's two of PEI's flagship foods, in one uniquely Canadian dish that pleases from every aspect. The first bite is an experience in and of itself as generous chunks of rich, melt-in-your-mouth lobster enrobed in buttery béchamel and melty cheese curds mingle with deliciously rustic fries. Talk about decadence, this is a purified bowl of decadence topped with just enough crisp green onion to create a contrast of flavor that's perfectly artistic. Unbelievably smooth and a paragon of awesome, this poutine is way too good to share.

Have I got your attention yet? Well stop drooling on your keyboard, because there's much, much more! Chef Erin had even more heart-stealing tricks up her sleeve for me today.

But before I go on, all due tribute needs to be given to the fact that everything that comes from the Row House's kitchen is made in house. Preserving the timeless Island tradition of down to earth, home made cooking under the influence of an inventive and current menu. I really feel that fact speaks for itself, but I'll just add that you can taste it in every single bite and see it on every plate.

And next I went for a classic, the Row House's Mini Lobster Roll, which is served with their slaw and I added on a side of Potato Salad. Because who can have chilled lobster without potato salad?

Starting with the potato salad, I've got to say something. Remember how I just said everything is house made? Well the Row House's mayonnaise is too and it's so light that I could swear this mayo's been whipped into perfection! Covering the perfectly cooked potato gems, there's a lot to love about this salad. Crisp and cool, indulgent and oh, so fresh. It makes the lobster proud to share a plate with it and it makes me proud to say I've eaten it! I could go on and on just about the potato salad, but I know you're just waiting to hear about the lobster roll.

As you can see, it's plated so sweetly that honestly my sense of aesthetic just wanted to sit there for eternity and stare at it's loveliness. Thankfully, my sense of smell and taste were way too excited to sit still and I went for it! The roll is done just right, fluffy on the inside with a slight crisp on the outside thanks to being perfectly toasted with lobster's best friend; butter! The lobster...oh, for the love of lobster! It was creamy, smooth, savory, buttery, delicious, with a hint of sweet and...uh, let's just say it's quintessentially PEI, because I've exhausted most of the positive words in my food repertoire. Seriously though, the lobster was just that stupendous! The way the Row House treats lobster is exactly what converted me into a lover and I owe them a lot in that sense. A kitchen party on the palate, this is one gourmet lobster roll that you cannot miss!

Of course, just like everything, the slaw was perfectly matched to the lobster with it's light body and bold flavors. Crisp veggies are complimented with a kick of citrus infused vinaigrette that sings on your taste buds. It's like the bow on the plate that's an invariable Epicurean's picnic!

Now, before I lead you into the endless pleasure that was my dessert, I have to give a shout out to both Cynthia and Jessica. Wholeheartedly devoted to the Row House, Cynthia is a sweetheart who takes pride in the work she has done to bring the Row House to the successful and undoubtedly perfect sensory experience that it is. Talking to her, it was easy to see how, with her motivation, the Row House is what it is. And then of course, there was Jessica who is just about the kindest waitress ever! Miss Congeniality? You bet! As we spoke, I thought to myself how perfect it is that Tourists who come into the Row House will be meeting her since she's got the heart of Island hospitality down to an art!

Let me say this about dessert; Turtle Cheesecake in a Jar. Now, I just want you to take a second and prepare yourself because its even better than it sounds! (Not entirely sure how that's possible, but it is.) The miniature mason jar that it's presented in yet another adorable nod to the Island's culture. Disarmingly rich from the first, purely indulgent bite, this cheesecake is perfect in every way! So sweet and pure, it sent me on a round trip to Heaven! Layers of pecans, caramel, chocolate cheesecake and a crunchy cookie bottom topped with whipped cream could easily make Turtle, chocolate or otherwise, incredibly jealous! The epitome of richness, smoothness and velvet in  your mouth, I wasn't going to miss a taste and got that jar clean in order to enjoy every. single. bite.

The perfect end to the perfect meal with a cup of my favorite drink; coffee!

After my visit today, I could see, taste, smell and completely understand that the Row House does our Island proud. Their heart goes into everything with a respect for the food that is truly mirrors the effort and dedication of our lobster men and women. From the very first minute to the very last bite everything at the Row House is polished and flawless.

On PEI, everyone has to get a feed during Lobstering season a boy did I get mine. The Row House has only just opened but I predict that they're going to be a wildly popular fixture on Victorian Row for generations to come.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

New Festival of Wines PEI: Day Two

There's so many reasons to love wine! The way it awakens your senses, how it's a catalyst for great conversation and even how it brings you to that special "me" place of relaxation. But out of every reason there is to hail this internationally adored drink, I had two very special ones this weekend thanks to the New Festival of Wines in Charlottetown, Presented by Investor's Group!

Having been to the Festival the night before, I already had my eye on some amazing wines, but with over 260 offerings, I took a moment to relax at the Lounge sponsored by Cox and Palmer to check out my Festival guide and select even more! Award winners to locally sourced wines, each bottle is an experience and what's great about the Festival is that you can go to the on site store to purchase any or even all of your favorites.

So after marking my guide, writing book in hand, I set off to my first wine of the evening!

A fun and fresh start to my evening, Yellow Tail Sangria is an Australian Wine that was prepared over ice with some delicious citrus fruit for this tasting. It has a refreshing scent and reminded me of carefree Summer Days. From the Festival's spotlight Country, I was inspired by this almost flirty drink to start planning my activities for the next season, most of them turning out to involve a beautiful crystal punch bowl filled with this wine for my friends to partake in! Viva la Summer with this fruity and flirty Sangria!

Moving along to something a bit more intense, I found Cantena Alta, which is an extraordinarily concentrated Malbec with a 2010 vintage that made my senses absolutely soar! Rated at 91 by Wine Spectator for a reason, this wine has the color of a gem, which is exactly what it is. So warm and inviting, this red wine is impossible to resist and let's face it, being that good, who would want to resist it?

Speaking of things that are impossible to resist, the food from the Redwater Grille by Chef Jane Crawford is certainly one of those things. As you can see on my blog, I've been a fan of the Redwater for a very long time so you can imagine my excitement at seeing such glorious food before me!

My first taste was Asian fusion at it's best! The Korean Short Rib Tacos were loaded with fresh flavors and crisp ingredients that paired stupendously with the buttery short ribs and creamy ginger aioli. The Cilantro Sesame Slaw cinched the perfect Asian tone of the taco while the soft flour tortilla was a lovely base. Honestly, all I could say eating this was yum...because I was way too busy eating them!

That was only the beginning of all the imaginative food that Chef Jane was serving up, since the next thing I had was Candy Apple Chicken Wings with Blue Cheese Power and Green Onion. Can I get an OMG? I mean Candy. Apple. Chicken. Wings. It nearly blew my mind so much that I had to take a second to process how amazing it was. Sweet and savory with a kick of blue cheese and fresh green onion, there was everything to love about these appetizers! Let's face it, these are wings as only Chef Jane could create them!

Next was the Haute Poutine, a couture twist on this Canadian classic! With the most flavorful gravy, I've had to date, it had to be the duck confit in this gravy that made the difference. It was pure, decadent and bold with all that savory, creaminess that every gravy could aspire to. With melt in your mouth duck and picked onions melting in your mouth, this was a fork-full of perfection. All over super crunchy PEI Potato Hush Puppies, those cute little morsels add a fun crunch to such a classy take on poutine!

And after all that, you couldn't imagine anything getting better. But it does! If you're not sitting down, you better be before I tell you the dessert that Chef Jane served. Maple Cheese Cake Bites graced the Wine Festival like a chorus of angels singing to your mouth! These sweet and salty heaven scents were a party of their own as the came together with flavor and texture. Pure Maple-y silk on the inside with a crunch of decadent Dark Chocolate and the wow-inspiring Salted Bacon Brittle! I could eat these forever guessed it, ever!

Well played, Chef Jane, well played. You stole my taste buds again and again and again with all of these taste tempting foods. It just goes to prove that I can never go too long without your culinary creations, it's just the way life works.

After all the inspiration I wanted to pick a wine that would steal my heart away and so headed over to the Peller table, because who can beat a classic Canadian Winery? Their Ice Curvee Rose was exactly the wine I was looking for! This Chardonnay has delicate bubbles that tickled my tongue with it's sophisticated balance between sweet and intense. Special enough that it could be saved for special occasions and yet fun enough for even a picnic at the beach, the only was I can describe it is playful and elegant, kind of like the Marilyn Monroe of wines.

Staying within our great Country's borders, I moved onto some selections that are close to heart and home! Rossignol is located on the picturesque South Shore of PEI and offers a huge and eclectic range of wines and liqueurs that are unique and PEI-centric. I had three specific drinks in my mind, three liqueurs that I've known about but never had the chance to sip. Well, this was my chance!

First from Rossignol was their Rose Liqueur which is presented in a stunning violin styled bottle. That translates perfectly to the flavor in your mouth, each sip blossoms in your mouth with a sweetness that shows it's bold side the more you get to know it. If I could pick one drink that could characterize my personality, I really think it would be this. I much prefer my roses in a liqueur than a bouquet, thanks to Rossignol!

Then the Cassis and Maple Liqueurs battled it out for my affection! But, and this might sound cliche, I loved them both equally, but for such different reasons! Deep, sweet and intense, the Cassis was like the tastiest wake up call I've ever had, luscious warmth and fruitiness made it perfectly memorable with every taste. Opposite from the Cassis, the Maple Liqueur was light, sweet and should be Canada's national drink. It would be so delicious in coffee, over vanilla bean ice cream, on pancakes or pretty much anything.

After all of that excitement courtesy of Canada's wine-makers I had to move along and pay tribute to something else that's equally as Canadian, Cheese! With two exhibitor's sharing their cheeses, I was so excited to see what they were offering.

Cow's Creamery came with a trio of cheeses; their Cloth Bound Avonlea Cheddar is the perfect cheese for wine! We're talking the height of sharpness and depth of flavor; it's earned every single award it's received and completely won my heart! Prepared with a special time-honored process, you can taste the years of tradition that stands behind this cheese. Their Cow's Creamery Applewood Smoked and Creamery White Cheddar are both classics and creamily delicious! The Applewood being every beautiful thing that the White Cheddar is but with it's smokiness, it would be the prefect compliment to earthy wines in my humble opinion.

Next, for more cheesy goodness was the Dairy Farmers of Canada with three unique cheeses. A creamy Boursin Red Chili Pepper spread on delicious breath was pleasure with attitude! Irresistibly smooth, it's perfect for parties or even just relaxing and indulging. I think I'll have a fun time pairing this fiery cheese!  Seeing the ADL Cheddar felt like coming home. This cheese, cultivated on PEI is so fresh you can taste it in every creamy bite! Last of my cheeses was a Swiss that hails from Quebec that had me from the first sniff! This cheese is the perfect Swiss that's enjoyable for everyone because of it's mild and still uniquely Swiss flavor.

After that I went to try out the Medallion Smoked Salmon table where they were serving up some of the best Salmon this Isle has to offer. Smoky and smooth, with all of the freshness of Salmon, I could think of a thousand different culinary uses for this Salmon. I can't wait to go and purchase some for myself because it belongs just about everywhere. At breakfast on bagels, lunch on pasta and dinner with some elegant dish dreamed up by an Executive Chef; Medallion Salmon wins best in taste!

Making my way across the room I was cheerfully greeted by the people from the PEI International Shellfish Festival! With all the flair of true Island hospitality they were serving up oysters and shucking people in. I was just a spectator since I've yet to build up the courage to try my first oyster but they made it look like so much fun that I'm marking my calendar to save the dates (September 18 - 21) for the Shellfish Festival so I can get shucked in myself!

And so, with the night coming to a close, I knew that I would have to pick two last wines that I could indulge in and savor as the last two cheers of the festival.

The first of the last was 3 Bridges an Award Winning Shiraz from Australia that fully expresses just how profound they are as a wine making Country. Full and spicy, this wine was seductive and all too tempting with it's cozy embrace on the palate, powerful mouth-feel and hints of vanilla and oak that made it something very special for me. Magnificent and flawless would describe this wine from the first sniff to the final sip!

Last was a super impressive, another award earning wine Les Jamelles trio of grapes from France with big, bold flavor! The Grenache, Syrah and Mourverde come together with spice and warmth that still surprisingly hosts a juicy nature with plum-like notes. Which all adds up to a complex wine that represents a unique blend of what France can offer to us, the wine lovers of the world.

And so with all of this said and all these wines later, I'm left with only one question... Why can't we have a month-long Festivals of Wines? It's a celebration of local talent, word class wines and grapes. Because let's all remember that this event starts with the earth and grapes that once cultivated by passionate humans become a drink that has inspired a broad range of people to greatness.


Oh...and I couldn't leave without another stop at the Property Guy's photo booth to hang out with the morphsuit men and take a fun snap shot!

Say, Cabernet Sauvignon!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

New Festival of Wines PEI: Night One

Well, there are few things in this world that a woman can resist, chocolate, good music, a perfect book, fine food and if you're me, then wine. Yes, the endless variety and the thrill of encountering new and deep flavors leaves me wanting more when it comes to well-crafted wines. That said, where better for me to land than at The New Festival of Wines being hosted May 23rd and 24th?

We're talking about 2 nights packed with over 260 wines that come from 13 different Countries! That alone has the appeal of a lifetime of amazing packed into two evenings spent floating from one station to another, partaking in some of the best limited edition and award winning wines you could ever taste on Prince Edward Island. Pair that appeal with food and cheese that could sweep me off my feet and you've got two of the best nights of the year!

Walking in I was taken with all of the glittering lights and the heady scent of wine that lingered in the Eastlink Center, beckoning me to join them in this evening of enjoyment. Entirely circling the broad Center was a perfectly organized set of Exhibitors boasting a smorgasbord of wine. Glass in hand with my guide and writing book in the other, I was a woman on a mission!

But of course, before I went out to enjoy myself, I was able to do some good too. With two Charitable initiatives at the Festival supporting Hospice, I grabbed a ticket for their draw with a Grand Prize of a Wine Fridge and 24 Bottles of Wine and the Coat Check too was also in support of this truly worthy cause with all proceeds going directly to Hospice.

Heading straight over to the Wines, my first was an Award Winner from Spain, talk about starting off with a bang! Considered one of the top ten wines in the world, according to the Exhibitor this Spanish Wine speaks the language of love. Baron de Lajoyosa Carinena Grenace is extremely full in it's body with stellar notes of spice and tantalizing earthy beauty. This 2005 vintage easily earned it's title with exceptional in mouth and lovely exterior presence this wine was the perfect starter!

Next on my list was a wine that I've been pining for since I heard it announced at the beginning of the year! Choco Rouge, Sweet Red, hailing from the US is a wine that pairs two of my great loves. Chocolate and Red Wine. Truly pleasure in it's purified form, this wine was everything I expected and more. The scent is beyond heaven, intoxicating with it's clear chocolate and high-quality red wine. A true nectar, in my opinion, I've never met such a versatile wine and I can't wait to pick up a couple of bottles to test out some amazing theories including drizzling it over chocolate and ice cream or even in hot cocoa or a milkshake! I know exactly who I'd love to share this wine with~

And next heading over to a very popular Canadian Winery's offering, Quail Gate is one of the most up and coming Wineries in the Country and has even been featured as Pit Stop on the Amazing Race Canada! So as a fan of wine and the Race this was an exciting try for me. Their Old Vine Foch was filled with warmth and gentle spices that created a powerful presence that can easily make Canada proud of this wine!

After trying out a few of the wines, I was able to say hi to a couple of friends who just happened to be enjoying the show and then made my way over to the Photo Booth sponsored by The Property Guys for a little bit of fun. With frames to create your own "Wine Inspired" photos, the booth was the picture perfect way to commemorate the evening and I got to turn the camera on my amazingly talented photographer who you can see below!

Then came the Food, the glorious food from Friday Night's feature Chef! From Red Shores Race Track and Casino came Chef Andrew Smith and brought with him a host of talented sous Chef's and a taste for the delicious!

The Shaved Crepes Topped with Diced Fruit and Finished with Mango Chantilly Cream were the epitome of fresh and fruity! Light and perfect with a Sparkling White (I tested that theory), the Chantilly Cream was so light, yet decadent and creamy with that kiss of sweet mango. All together a fusion of crisp flavors brought on by fresh fruit, rich cream with the lightly shredded crepe, we're talking yummy.

Onto the Pulled Beef on a Pomme Puree with Chive Hollandaise, I found that this luscious hollandaise sauce went perfectly with crispy and light chives! Topping the juicy pulled beef, I had never experienced beef like this before (and as we know, I've had many an affair with beef). It's clean and meaty notes were perfect for my discerning tastes in meat. On a base of velvety Pomme Puree, it took PEI Potatoes to a new level with it's silky smoothness.

After that awesome meaty rendezvous, I was met by...even more! The Warm Pork and Duck Confit Salad Blili with Sweet Pea Splash was divine! So artistic in it's presentation, this savory bliss hit a perfect warm and cool balance of awesome. With a lightness of flavor, the tender duck was perfectly satisfying with pork, the two meats together blended perfectly and so Chef Andrew has gotten into my very good books with this little gem! All on top of a blini (amazingly delicious pancake for us laymen), that was so buttery and indulgent which made me wish I could take a stack home in my purse!

The last of the night's appetizers was a creamy Mini Caesar Salad with a Crisp Phylio Cup topped with Parmigiano Reggiano. I'm a big fan of Caesar Salads but this was the ultimate! The dressing was beyond compare with it's bold flavor, true crispy bacon bits and all put into an adorable little phylio bowl made from layers upon layers of flaky goodness.

All of these apps made me want to head straight to the Top of the Park Restaurant! A huge shout out to Chef Andrew and his Team on an incredible job!

Then, of course, it was time for, what else? More wine! This next trio of American wines all come from different areas in California and are all uniquely awesome.

The Dreaming Tree Crush Red is a Cabernet Sauvignion that's super easy-drinking and perfect for those wanting to start out with a wine that's perfect for any occasion and that's also got a very cool duo of creators behind it. One of the best Wine crafters in California collaborated with Dave Matthews of the infamous Dave Matthews Band to create this series of wines. Don't forget to save your corks from these bottles since each one is decorated with unique Dave Matthews Band lyrics for a personal touch.

And of course, since I have such a great relationship with cake, I just couldn't miss Cupcake Red Velvet, this Zinfandel captured my attention immediately with it's commanding spice, vanilla and cocoa notes that are fragrant and warm that's deep in deliciousness and flavor just like it's namesake. I wouldn't be surprised to find myself with a good book and a glass of this in the future.

Next in these California wines is a Pinot Noir that came to PEI from the Sonoma Coast! La Crema is a dark and intense wine that's ripe with black fruits that give it a bold presence which lingers on the tongue pleasantly.

After those wines, I was tempted by the siren song of PEI Blossoms! The fruit bouquets that Blossoms creates are always beautiful and they brought an assortment of chocolate covered apples and strawberries which were perfect for the occasion. Crisp and sweet, these were almost too pretty to eat. Almost. In the end, the yumminess took over! The apples had a perfect crunch, as if they'd just been picked and those strawberries were beyond juicy! Just like the wine that was surrounding me!

Now let's face it, it's no secret that I love Jeff McCourt's Cheese. Seriously. He's come up in many of my reviews and each time I fall deeper in love with his Glasgow Glen Farm's Cheese Lady Gouda. Of course brought along an assortment of my favorite cheeses which drew me in with magnetic force! The variety was fantastic and even boasted a cheese I had yet to try! A Gouda after my own heart, the Sydney Street Gouda is made using the Gahan House's hand crafted Sydney Street Ale and lingers with hints of the beer's head notes mingling with the rich Gouda. A match made in heaven? You bet! Along with the cheeses, Jeff brought along his amazing date preserves which are soaked in brandy and then brought to you in all of their perfected glory. Paired with the wine, both of these indulgences are what makes a perfect pair!

Right near the suburb Gouda was Liquid Gold! That awesome Olive Oil store that's a must visit in Downtown Charlottetown. They brought an amazing offering of pure and versatile olive oils and balsamic vinegar. Along with Chef Pendergast's Bread from Young Folk and the Kettle Black, it was topped with some of Liquid Gold's Tomato Pesto and made my taste buds sing! A huge shout out to the super friendly girls at their booth! They've got so much passion and energy for food that it's definitely inspiring to someone like me.

I obviously wasn't done with wines yet and so after getting eating my fill of more Island inspired morsels, headed off for some more sampling.

Next was a wine from France that I was very excited to try. I had already heard great things about it, but Bouchard Pere Fils & Gevrey Chambarlin's Pinot Noir completely went beyond my expectations! Complex and earthy, it picked up on some of my own personal favorite tasting notes. This wine filled all of my senses and enveloped me immediately in it's richness so that no matter what was going on around me it was just the Pinot Noir and I. Talk about a captivating glass.

Heading over to one of France's neighbors, I partook in a couple of Italian wines! First, Ruffino Reserva Ducale is a Chiati from Tuscany with beautiful body that lends itself to all of the hype Italian wine inspires! Beautifully crafted with a notably full mouth-feel that comes along with a complex host of flavors, it pays tribute to the grapes that are a huge part of this carefully crafted bottle of wine.

After that came a real mouth full to taste and to say! Il Vino del Poeti Brunello Di Montaldno Bottega is just as special as it sounds and I've got to give mad props to the Exhibitor at this table because he spoke the name of this wine with flair and romance. Which is exactly what it's made up of! This Sanvogese transports me to Italy, it's flavor mimicking the lush landscapes of the Country and it's passionate in the mouth as a testament to the heart that goes behind wine making.

After that I wanted to try a wild card, a wine I had never even heard of! The Grape Grinder Pintoage from South Africa is fun, flirty and thoroughly modern! From the first sip I was completely entertained by it's hip fusion of flavors and feel that it would be perfect for a Summer Picnic date!

Last, but certainly not least for the night was an Australian Wine! The spotlight country at this year's Wine Show, this award winning wine is truly and experience. Deakin Estate brings forth a Pinot Noir that's a white wine all dressed up as a red, giving you the very best of both worlds! With fragrant strawberry on the nose and a savory, silky and fruity finish in the mouth it's easy to taste why this award winner earned it's accolades!

After all of that wine enjoyment, I made my way over to the Hot 105.5 Lounge to relax and take in all of the enjoyment around me. Big shout out to Hot 105.5 for hosting this Lounge in the center of the action and to Leon's Charlottetown for all that comfy furniture. I really didn't want to leave in all that comfort.

Amazing wine, incredible food, comfortable atmosphere and tons of happy people...can I move in? Pretty please?

While I might not be able to move in, I can certainly return today for another night of fun! This even is ideal for anyone who's passionate about the finer things in life! With night one of bliss completed, The New Festival of Wines has been one of my favorite parts of May and I can't wait to share tonight's discoveries with you soon.

Keep Pouring!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Charlottetown Tulip Festival Art Show at the Guild - "Two Lips" Progresson

Hello Readers! Whether you've come upon this post from scanning the QR code next to my art piece that you're (hopefully) looking at with some sense of admiration, or just happened to find this post some way else... I'm glad you're here!

This year marks the first Charlottetown Tulip Festival, which is very exciting since tulips are extremely pretty and we all need a super dose of Spring! As part of the festivities The Guild on Queen Street is hosting an Art Show dedicated to the theme of...what else, Tulips! With a host of talented Islanders, there plenty of beautiful pieces for your viewing pleasure and I'm lucky enough to share a wall with some of these incredible people!

And as you'll notice, if you're looking at the art, I had a bit of fun with the theme. "Two Lips", while having plenty of two, plenty of lips and plenty of tulips does have symbolism that's beneath the surface of this piece.

That there is the rough sketch, as you can see the couple, Nakomis and Lars are their names, are having a sweet little lip lock there. But hark! There's more. Those tulips that their holding and wearing are going to be symbols once they're colored. As for doing the sketch itself, it was quite entertaining. I haven't actually drawn a couple kissing since...2006. So I was very pleased once it turned out to look like a pleasant little pucker.

Ah, the next phase. First inking. Done with a Sakura Micron Size 8 Pen was one of my favorite parts. I love inking, creating lines and then deepening them as they go along is something very bold, very tangible that takes a sketch and gives it some sort of different intensity. I'm very attached to my lines, which is a good thing since permanent markers aren't much for temporary relationships.

Next comes the second part of the inking. You can see that it's starting to get a bit more dynamic. I'm usually pretty playful when it comes to inking. I don't like to let lines linger or be missed so by making each one a piece in and of itself, there's a lot more for people to take it.

And...we have skin! Not too much to say about this aside from the fact that I like how it shows what color does to a straight black and white piece. You really start to get excited with that first layer of color going down!

...More color! I would have taken you through the whole thing, but let's face it, you've got a lot of other art to look at and basically it's a lot of alcohol based marker going down which is only interesting to people who get extremely technical when it comes to art (me). What I will say is that you can now see the color of the tulips that I mentioned earlier. Red Tulips are known to represent everlasting love, which is perfect for this couple. Why? Well, the White Tulips in Nakomis' crown will give you a hint to that. While human there, she goes on in her own story to become an angel, which within the realm of these two means an almost immortal existence. Everlasting? I think so. And while Lars' might not live forever, like his girl, I think his half of everlasting love definitely represents our human sense of love. Even after death we can still love greater, whether from our spirit or from the love that we shared with others and is carried within them.

Oooo, I'm getting kinda deep here.

Well, moving on to the next color, the Purple Tulips represent Lars' position as royalty. Oh yeah, he's a Prince, did I forget to mention that? Well, he is and one that goes on to be a King and since this color Tulip is undeniable sign of royalty, it was the perfect choice.

Now I'm sure a few of you are wondering why the background is white. If you know my art, you'll understand that it's just something I 'do'. I don't like to detract from the character design, which is a big part of what my art involves and also, with this particular piece I wanted to point out how when two people are sharing a moment like that; nothing else is around.

And now, I thank you for listening to me banter on about art! I hope you enjoy my piece and all of the stupendous pieces at the Tulip Festival Show. I would love to hear from anyone and if you have any other questions about "Two Lips" feel free to post, tweet or facebook me.

Have fun at the Festival, all!

I know Nakomis and Lars are...

Monday, 19 May 2014

Chicken Shawarma at Cedar's Eatery

Well, after a month of beefy goodness, I'm back in action and eating exactly what you'd expect!

...Chicken! I know what you're thinking: "No beef? What's going on here!?". My friends, beef isn't the only incredible edible that PEI has to offer and so I set off to try out a dish that's been a-buzz around the Island for, well, years! Cedar's Eatery has been considered one of Canada's Best Restaurants since 1979 and every local foodie I've met has been there to try out a spread of their Lebanese and Island-Inspired fare. That said, I knew I was in the best of hands when I went in to try their Chicken Shawarma. Especially with their family-friendly atmosphere and the caring attention of their warm-hearted Hostess Gwen, super Waiter Kelly and awesome duo of Chefs, Matt Hollis and Matt MacFadden! 

With a fantastic reputation that precedes it, the Shawarma at Cedar's can be ordered with either chicken or beef and either regular or grilled. I went for the whole experience and got my Chicken Shawarma grilled and with an order of half their aromatic Lebanese Rice and yummy Fries on the side! I just couldn't wait for my plate to arrive at the table and so browsed their delectable dessert menu to pick out the perfect sweet ending! Don't worry, you'll hear more about it soon...

But first, the Shawarma! The Shawarma! We're talking super taste tempting here. It's got this beautiful smell of rich heady spices and charmingly smooth garlic. Honestly, just looking at the plate made me want to hop a plane and head for Lebanon. We've got our own little slice of their terrific cuisine on the Island thanks to Cedar's! And that first bite had me hooked. The cool creaminess was one great aspect, but what got my taste buds going was the spice, which is, very, very (no pun intended) nice! It felt like I was getting a warm hug from this wrap of epic yum and when your food hugs you, that's when you know it's awesome.

And just so everyone knows, when I say spices, I mean those warm, embracing kinds. The Shawarma at Cedar's is ideal for anyone who loves big flavor! There's no heat here, just a fireworks show of taste and yumminess.

The grilled aspect made added to the unique juxtaposition that comes from the cool sauce and spiced chicken. It gave an extra aspect to each bite and became a great part of that balance. Warm and toasty while being completely refreshing. Generously packed with chicken and veggies, this Shawarma just left me saying..."wow". It's a getaway for all of the senses and served up with Cedar's endless hospitality and charm, that's a winning combination if you ask me.

As sides go, the Lebanese Rice and Fries were a lovely combination. First, the rice was just as aromatic and tempting as the Shawarma itself. Plated up with similar spices to the Shawarama and added beef and toasted almond slices, this rice was outstanding. I'm a rice lover in general, but this Lebanese Rice beats them all with it's traditional flavors and those almonds with add an extra crunch and pleasant nuttiness. Next to that was some super classic fries with a majorly thick cut twist! I don't think I've ever seen fries so big before! It was awesome because they were fried perfectly so I got these incredible crunchy, golden nuggets with a soft potato inside.

So yes, I imagine you're very hungry and feeling a strong urge to satisfy your appetite with some Shawarma-tasticness. Well then, you'd better head to Cedar's! ...But not before hearing about the awesome dessert I tried out!

Baklava. If you haven't had it, you've got to. The best way you can describe the way it tastes to me is to say that it tastes even better than all of my favorite things and then is wrapped in the most amazing pastry ever! As you can see from the photo, Cedar's does Baklava not only deliciously but also beautifully, this plate looks like a pretty package with a sugary bow. These little desserts are dainty and oh, so adorable! With the two little "fingers" you could easily share this with someone. Although you'd have to figure out who get's the beautiful blossom shaped one, which is very appropriately shaped because this Baklava blooming with flavor! The pastry was the most flaky I've ever had and let's just talk butter. Because this butter was rich and so decadent! I belong to those endless layers of pastry with their buttery amazingness. With the sweet and pure tasting honey along side the nutty pistachios this was the perfect way to end an exotically satisfying meal!

So after all that, what else can I say about Cedar's? Well, I'd eat there again in a heartbeat! And I'm super excited to try Baba's Lounge which is upstairs at Cedar's, it's totally made for the hip, artistic scene and so it sounds like a great time to me. Of course, with the incredible food a la Cedar's it's bound to be the best!

P.S. Cedar's is a great place for people who are Gluten-Free, Vegetarian and Vegan. Their menu accommodates all three needs and quite deliciously! Check out their weekly Lunch "Flight" Menu!