Monday, July 09, 2012

From PEI to the Maggies: Top Twelve Lessons

Île du Havre au Maisons
Vinyl Café on the radio as my wife and I drive from Naufrage to East Point, Prince Edward Island, we enjoy Stuart McLean’s insights about anthemic songs, such as Guy Lombardo’s Auld Lange Syne as performed by the Good Lovelies.

“I didn’t know Guy Lombardo was a Canadian,” my wife says. Nor did I.

I present, in no particular order, twelve other tidbits I learned during our adventure to PEI and the Magdalen Islands:

1.      At Arthur Mooney & Sons, a haven for potato mavens, I learned that the Russet Burbank and Shepody are the best spuds for making French fries.
2.      Tout à fait is, according to Jocelyn Martin of the Route 3 Eatery, French for “yes indeed,” my new catch-phrase.
3.      From French phrases to fiddle and folk music featured at other PEI restaurants: Fiddler’s Sons, whose CD gets airplay at Windows on the Water, and Tim Chaisson, whose music you might hear at Rick’s.
4.      Best information booth hosts in PEI: The Donnas in Morell because they aided helped my wife identify Covehead Lighthouse and gave me a copy of The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, by Wayne Johnson.
5.      French lesson #1: Per Le Parler Québécois Pour Les Nuls (Speak Quebecois for Dummies), the book I consulted during a five-hour ferry ride from Souris, PEI to Les Îles de la Madeleine, the phrase for “beer league” is ligue du garage.
6.      Les Îles de la Madeleine has two hockey rinks according to local singer/songwriter/hockey player (do I get two minutes for slashing?) Claude Cormier.
7.      Best place for local music and tapas: Vent du Large, where we listened to Cormier sing about his love for Milwaukee.
8.      French Lesson # 2: Cormier’s song “Hockey” is about my favourite sport, not a city in Wisconsin.
9.      La Grave: The historic section of Havre Aubert is home to Vent du Large, idyllic sunsets and the best grilled cheese and accordion music (Café de la Grave).
10.  Boulangeries abound. We especially loved LaFleur de la Sable. Les croissants aux chocolat sont parfait pour un picnic. And the workers were patient with my faltering French pronunciation (see French Lesson #3).
11.  French Lesson #3: You don’t pronounce the “g” in L'Étang-du-Nord, another noteworthy area to visit.
12.  Havre-sur-Mer, Sympathetic Inn: The best host, the best French lessons, the best breakfasts, the best of the best, la crème de la crème. Calme et à la sérénité, tout à fait.