Lobster Crawl: The Hunt For The Best Island Lobster Roll

We are a blended family and we blend really well except for one thing.


On one side of the blend, there is a deep passion for all things that swim or crawl. At least once they are in an edible state that is. My husband and 3 of our daughters love lobster rolls. In fact they even have them on Christmas Eve. The other side of the blend, that being myself and Miss Jade, politely hold our noses and wait for it to be over.

So when Erin told me her plans for her latest adventure, I was not surprised. She and her boyfriend Aidan have that 20-something hard life of attending wine and beer festivals in eastern Canada. “Forced” to work and drink at the latest wine festival in Prince Edward Island and very familiar with pub crawls :), they decided to create the lobster crawl, a search for the best lobster roll the Island has to offer. This is Erin’s account on how it all rolled out.

1. Water and Prince Corner Shop (Charlottetown, PEI)

Least favorite roll on our crawl, great overall experience. This spot came recommended by a couple of our Island friends during our Friday night escapades at Gahan House. Served up on a steak-style bun, this baby was unfortunately not toasted.. or buttered. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll eat lobster in any way, shape, form but I like a little (ok a LOT) of butter on my roll. Perk to this roll; a big-ass scoop of grandma-style, paprika-topped potato salad on the side. Doesn’t get any more Maritime than this. The only sit down stop of the crawl, service was amazing and we even had meaningful conversation with our waitress who was thrilled to hear about our day ahead!

Roll 3.5/5
Experience 4/5

2. The Chip Shack (Charlottetown, PEI)

This stop, recommended by both Cheryl (the best step mother in the world – yes Cheryl did some editing) and other Islanders we ran into was a real treat. Outdoors. Prime spot downtown. Bright and Shiny. Eccentric ‘Chip’ lady running the whole show… Amazeballs. The downside? One frigid, windy pre-summer afternoon on the Charlottetown Waterfront. The goal here was eat the roll, and get out.

The price point was great at under ten dollars, but the most impressive part about this roll was the no-frills hotdog bun used to house the succulent lobster salad. Not only did the smaller bun better complement the amount of lobster salad, but the extra buttery toasted outside was to die for. This roll did not last long. Like I said, it was cold outside, and the roll was unreal! We crushed it and moved onto our next destination. (Side note – the fries or “chips” looked great, we’ll be back to try them out when we’re on a less aggressive eating venture – Cheryl can attest to their unbelievable yummy taste).

Roll 4.2/5
Experience 3.8/5

With full bellies, we hopped in the Jetta and took a lovely coastal drive to Brackley beach, through North Rustico and finally ending in Cavendish. The tourist focal-point of PEI.

3. Captain Sam’s (Cavendish, PEI)

The touristy price point was there, but so was the quality. By far our biggest roll of the day, also came along with a similar steak-style bun as the first stop, but this time with butter. Lots of it. The lobster salad was on point, and the meat-to-bun ratio..perfect. The cheerful lady at the cash looked thrilled to see us! Very well could have been the first customers of the day. When we turned down the accompanying french fries (let’s get real.. we were still too full to be even having another lobster roll), she happily offered us a different side and served us up each a dish of old-school creamy coleslaw.

Having travelled to Cavendish for summer vacation as a child and many weekend-getaways as a teen and early adolescent, I had never quite seen Cavendish like this. Quiet, deserted and slightly creepy? Enjoying our roll, we looked around amazed at our quiet surroundings in a place we’d only ever seen jam-packed with tourists. The only other souls around were Islanders dragging in merchandise to their stores as they clearly began to prepare for the summer months ahead.

Roll 4.5/5
Experience 4/5

Where was the best lobster roll you ever ate? Do you have a family like our’s – with polar opposites for food choices? 

2 Prince Edward Island Restaurants That Shocked Us

It started on Christmas Eve.

My father landed in the hospital, my mother was distraught and we were trying to make something out of nothing.

Dad, feeling guilty, suggested we find a place for supper to somehow salvage the Christmas spirit which was less than flowing in the hospital corridors. It was 7PM.

What would be open?

As we cruised the streets of Charlottetown, it looked dismal. Even the fast food restaurants had closed for the night. Then we saw it…the neon lights beckoning us in. Thank God for The Noodle House. From that moment on, The Noodle House became a symbol of a sad time rectified by a good meal and friendly service.

A few years later when my dad passed away accidentally, we were  grieving and so we returned to our comfort place. After a yummy plate of Singapore noodles, we received our fortune cookies. The fortune cookies, those interesting little “add-ons” read without much thought, had never been my favourite. I didn’t like their taste and their sayings were usually ridiculous.

Until that day.

My dad always said in times of trouble – Keep your chin up! And those were the very words delivered in my fortune cookie that day.

Being more attentive to possible “signs”, The Kitchen Witch, another Island restaurant (image in header), known for its fortune-teller who reads tea leaves, was now on my eating radar. My husband had just received his dream job and was curious to know what the leaves would say. The restaurant, being quirky, quaint, and serving yummy food, drew us in. The tea leaf reader kept us hooked. We waited with bated breath. Then she opened her mouth and mine dropped. She hit all the nails on every head and off to Toronto Chris went.

So if you happen to be in Prince Edward Island and are seeking guidance, we strongly suggest these two restaurants which provide both delicious food and a nod in the right direction.

In the meantime, many fortune cookies later, I have to admit that only some actually “work”. I have become a selective believer.

Some of the fortune cookie messages that I believe! Others... I ignore:)

Some of the fortune cookie messages that I believe! Others… I ignore:)

Have you ever visited a fortune-teller? If so, what was your experience?

9 Tips for Moving With A Teen

What does Jade think? was the common question or should I say concern, when I mentioned we were moving from Prince Edward Island to Cobourg, Ontario.

Jade - a very creative and confident girl who fortunately, enjoys change.

Jade – a very creative and confident girl who fortunately, enjoys change.

And I would respond, she is fine as long as she can walk to school from our house and that she gets to choose how she decorates her room. 

So that all seems fine and dandy however, it is a tad gut wrenching when you are in the middle of it. Jade had lived in PEI her whole life and had many solid friends; in fact the same ones since grade 1. It is hard to anticipate what that will look or feel like when she actually goes to move.

Thankfully, my worries were mostly laid to rest. She moved in the summer, had a fantastic trip to Colombia and Peru, and began school a couple of days later…with little time to think about it… just dive right in.

I am not sure Chris and I breathed much on that first day of school as she started grade 9, the beginning of high school in Ontario. The clock moved slowly as we waited for the verdict at 2:30. Would she hate us for moving or would she be fine?

Thankfully, the latter. She had survived and would continue to do so; each day proving to be more promising than the last. Before we knew it, there was a new list of names of friends and stories to share.

Tips That Worked For Us

1. Really listen. What do they need to make the move more attractive? (in our case it was walking to school and a Moroccan/Indian inspired bedroom with orange/blue walls.)

2. Get in touch with the school ahead of time. Check out its website to familiarize with courses, activities, calendar etc. We discovered that her school was going to Europe this year and we were able to get her registered for the trip so she knew in advance that she would meet a group of similarly minded kids at the outset.

3. Start to explore the neighborhood, community and surroundings as soon as possible. Jade and I felt more comfortable in Cobourg as we discovered the best second-hand stores, the cool restaurants, the library, the scenic walks and drives we could take together.

4. Develop new routines. Jade and I used to love chatting at Harvey’s (I know but it has veggie burgers for me), Splendid Essence and Noodle House (2 favourite PEI restaurants) and these are what we missed most when we first arrived in Cobourg. Once we found some fantastic replacements, these routines made us feel more “at home”.

5. Get involved. Thankfully, there was a musical theatre program for her in Cobourg with outstanding teachers who were both warm and engaging. This made all the difference in the world really. An automatic outlet for her creative talents as well as a place for her to make friends with similar interests.

6. Develop a relationship with the new school. I know that this is high school but this is still important. Once the teachers realized that Jade was new to Cobourg, they went out of their way to ensure she felt included; which I am certain they would have done regardless. We are so lucky. Her school is stellar on all levels.

7. Find a balance between alone time and family time. I struggle with this as I want to be more present than a teen probably likes 🙂 Taking our cues from her, we would ask questions, listen and support if we could. Keeping the lines of communication open are so important during these teen years as well as during the added stress of a transition such as a move.

8. Maintain old relationships which teens of course do so easily through social media. Sometimes I wonder if she talks to her friends in PEI more now than when she lived there.

9. Be patient (parents) and stay open-minded (teen). Jade knew it would look and feel different here but she welcomed that readily. Fortunately, that is her nature..

Jade feeling settled.

Jade feeling settled.

And now that we have gone through all this, we have learned we will be moving again…exactly one year from the last move. Thank goodness, Jade, like her mom, embraces adventure and change. As this time, adventure and change are guaranteed to be on the menu!

These converse won't probably make the next move. But a new pair will.

These converse won’t probably make the next move. But a new pair will.

Prince Edward Island: From the Extraordinary to the Ordinary

When you live in PEI as we have for the last 15 years, you realize that you are very lucky. Surrounded by soft sumptuous sand everywhere you turn, you are never more than 10 minutes away from a wonderful escape; the beach. And of course, the beach is one of the cheapest forms of entertainment for any family; so a common destination for Island families in the summer and in fact, any time of year.

The girls enjoy the beach in any kind of weather. Rarely do they swim; choosing to hang on the sand instead.

The girls enjoy the beach in any kind of weather. Rarely do they swim; choosing to hang on the sand instead.

A family moment on a PEI beach. Always special :)

A family moment on a PEI beach. Always special 🙂

The beach at spring time; a long wait but happy to see it arrive.

The beach at spring time; a long wait but happy to see it arrive.

So when you have the Garden of Eden in your very backyard, you sometimes get used to it. And you search for other ways to wake up your senses… hence the invention of Girls Day Out.

Girls Day Out began a few years ago when I wanted to change things up as I am known to do on the odd occasion. I had done years of “summer surprises” and was looking for a new “shtick” so hence, GDO began.

Now the fun and interesting thing about a GDO is that it can be anything or everything.

To make it unique or special to the girl you are taking out (in this case Jade) it needs to look different.

For that reason alone, we decided to walk from our house to the downtown area as sadly, we tend to rely on our car a bit too much. The simple act of walking made this, in and of itself, exciting for a tween. And of course, the fact, that you never know what you will find on the way.

Jade’s and Cheryl’s Rules for a Great Girls Day Out

1. wear comfortable shoes (Jade learned the hard way the first time)

2. take a cell phone in case of back up needed (new shoes for Jade – see above)

3. carry a bag for all the treasures you might find

4. take water just in case it actually gets hot in Charlottetown

5. take money as a GDO always involves lots of food along the way

6. no other rules – because rules are not fun and spontaneity is the key to the best GDO

Now that we have moved from PEI, we fondly remember our GDO traditions and hopefully they will continue in new places in years to come.

So goodbye to PEI. We miss you.

We miss you PEI and its good potatoes.

We miss you PEI and its good potatoes.

How Pumpkins Can Blend Families

Family traditions are always important; especially for kids. And maybe even more so for kids of blended families. Trying to establish routines, comfort and a sense of togetherness when you live in different provinces can be challenging. It takes a lot of scheduling, patience and effort to make it work. It just doesn’t happen on its own. But I wouldn’t ask for it any other way because what we have, in my humble opinion, works and works well. Our girls have grown up together and despite, not always being together, “feel” together.

Sometimes apart, always together at heart.

Early on, we noticed that certain traditions stood out from the rest. One was the pumpkin, apple and sometimes corn maze weekend. The girls loved this and so did we. In fact, it may be strange, but I tend to prefer the lead up to certain holidays even more than the holidays themselves. I am not a huge Halloween person but I do like getting the pumpkins and carving them together.

This year, we moved from PEI to Ontario which made us much further from New Brunswick; hence weekends and time together have been a tad more challenging to organize. The pumpkin weekend didn’t happen this year; in fact, sadly Jade and I purchased ours at the local grocery store in the end. It just didn’t feel the same without some or all of the girls together. As the girls get older and branch off into work and university, I reflect on the memories even more.

My father used to say that the only thing consistent in life is change. I am trying to embrace that change but during pumpkin, apple and corn maze time, it is a little harder.

Go Jump Off A Bridge!

As a family, what do we miss about Prince Edward Island in Canada?

The Beaches – but not just any old beach – this island has tons of them so lslanders in the know, can afford to be picky. Basin Head Provincial Park or known locally as Singing Sands (yes the sands sing so to speak but that is not theeee reason to come) instead it is theeeeeee place to jump off of a bridge or the side, if you are a beginner, into the water  (yes, my brother-in-law was a beginner at first (see pic above). It is a kind of “a rite of passage” place… first to know about it and then to do it. Fear..fun..fear…fun..one of those things. Oh yah, ignore all the signs that say you can’t do it. Everyone does. And the lifeguards watch…

Tea Hill Park – close to Charlottetown and fascinating for its tides. Think very muddy but perfect for younger kids. We have lost many flip flops and crocs in our adventures there.

Splendid Essence Restaurant – Allyson and I used to describe this place like eating at a spa but not the price of a spa. We would arrive all stressed out and leave totally chilled. And yes… the food is awesome and if it suits our family’s eating needs, it will suit yours and so far I haven’t found anything close to it even in Toronto. I want those dumplings and iced green tea NOW!

Cows Everything – its ice cream and its cheese. Jade looked at me in fear this year as she realized that Santa wouldn’t be bringing Cows cheese.  Apparently the Dutch cheese substitute was fine but it was no Cows.

The Chip Shack – We just discovered this before we moved 😦 The lady who runs it has major personality, likes to travel (BONUS) so she will chat about Guatemala which of course is thumbs up in our book. Oh… and the fries are frigging awesome as one of my girls would put it.

Oh.. I see a certain theme developing as food takes over. I also miss Twin Shores Camping but since everyone and their dog knows about it and loves it too (especially if you have kids) you have to book so faaaarrrrr in advance, that reserving a spot nowadays is tough for a blended family who schedules for a living.

The Dunes – a favourite store/restaurant that specializes in arts and crafts (local) and those from Bali. What makes it so extra special is its design (think museum like for adults, shopping for teens, and a Balinese backyard for kids to explore). This is a must stop for anyone coming to PEI. Google it and go.

PEI is no secret; it is known as a great spot to visit as a family and rightly so. However, the pot holes suck so rent a car instead or bring one you don’t care about 🙂