Sarah Forrester Wendt displays the plate featuring a plum and duck that she discovered while cleaning up the space where her new restaurant will be located.

My Plum, My Duck

“My plum, my duck.” From those words of endearment comes the Island’s first macrobiotic restaurant.

Chef Sarah Forrester-Wendt, formerly of The Inn at St. Peter’s and The Kettle Black, is opening a restaurant with an almost entirely vegan menu.

“I have always wanted a small family-run restaurant,” she said.

The name of the restaurant has a family connection. “That’s what my father always calls my mother. He’s always said it. I thought, ‘What a great name for a restaurant.’”

The restaurant is whole-foods based; everything will be fresh, local, and organic. While Charlottetown certainly boasts a number of vegetarian and vegan-friendly spots, My Plum, My Duck will be a first. Forrester-Wendt said the goal for the menu is to be 90% vegan, with one organic, free-range land offering and one wild seafood plate.

“I wanted to do a strictly vegan menu but my research showed that to survive economically I had to offer some animal protein. So it isn’t a ‘vegan’ restaurant. It’s really a macrobiotic restaurant but that word isn’t as widely known.”

She said the decision to feature a predominantly plant-based menu was made for largely health and environmental reasons rather than any political ones.

Dish filled with roasted vegetables and a dip.

Submitted photo.

In addition to the protein options the menu will offer a rotating ramen bowl, veggie burger, and, importantly, a daily macrobiotic plate. Forrester-Wendt is known online and in the local community as Macromom.

The macrobiotic diet, which is part of a wider macrobiotic philosophy, is based on ideas drawn from Zen Buddhism. Whole grains, locally-grown seasonal vegetables, and legumes are key ingredients in the macrobiotic diet. Moderation in overall consumption, as well as animal proteins, sugars, and alcohol is also encouraged.

Forrester-Wendt was raised in a macrobiotic household. Her father adopted the lifestyle following a severe illness. “Living a macrobiotic life including the diet is how he survived cancer,” she said.

After high school she attended the Kushi Institute in Becket, Massachusetts, where she studied macrobiotic theory, cooking, and shiatsu.

The restaurant will serve a grab-and-go lunch and offer table service for 30 in the evenings, with a menu featuring five to seven appetizers and mains. Prices for lunch range from $5 to $15 and for dinner from $6 to $25. The liquor will be strictly local beer and wine. And while she won’t serve the usual mainstays of Coke or Pepsi, there will be a soda machine to make Wyman’s blueberry soda and apple soda. “My kids would call that pop.”

“And we will have lots of seaweed and fermentation,” she said. “I have a signature garnish I’m working on that consists of a fermented vegetable. I like the idea of having a signature garnish.”
And most of her suppliers are actually Charlottetown Farmers’ Market vendors (one exception being a seaweed supplier based on Grand Manan Island).

Bottles of fermented vegetables.

Fermented foods.// Submitted Photo

My Plum, My Duck is located on University Avenue near Euston Street in the building that most recently housed Minsoo restaurant and prior to that a salon and an adult entertainment boutique. Forrester-Wendt has been working to transform the dining room and kitchen to match her vision for the restaurant. It will be open and airy with lots of natural light and one wall will feature a ceramic tree created by Forrester-Wendt’s sister, Halifax-based sculptor Laura Jean Forrester.

“When I got in the place was a mess,” she said. “It had been empty for a year. I’ve unloaded two truckloads of garbage and have been scrubbing the floor since then.”

She said the former owners left a lot of restaurant equipment and supplies including a set of dishes, one of which has a plum and duck painted on it. “When I found that it was like a message from the universe or something. It made me think I’ve made the right decision.”

There are other indications that the timing for this venture is right. The appeal and potential for vegan products is reaching an ever expanding number of people beyond the relatively small group that consider themselves strictly vegan. She said Statistics Canada has found that 30% of Canadians consider themselves vegan or vegetarian.

My Plum, My Duck will have a soft opening in early May and an official launch in the middle of May.

Submitted Photo

About Rod Weatherbie

Rod Weatherbie is a writer working in the hospitality industry. He spent a number of years in Toronto as a member of the financial press before returning to PEI. Rod has published one piece of short fiction, one book of poetry, and has had work published in Red Shift, the Antigonish Review, Mitre, and the Toronto Quarterly. He has also recently co-produced, co-directed, and acted in a stage production of old television shows.

He also like writing about food. Go figure.

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