Grand Manan is actually a pretty prosperous place despite its isolation, general rusticness and the collapse of the herring industry in the 1990's. The smoking sheds of Seal Cove are in disrepair and the sardine packing plants converted into bed & breakfasts and lobster trap storage and are now a UNESCO world heritage site. These days lobster and shellfish, aquaculture or fish farming, and delicious nutritious dulse are it’s major exports to mainland.
Although it is an acquired taste, it’s a certainly taste worth acquiring. Rebecca has eaten at least a quarter pound of the stuff since we got here and I can’t be too far behind. Our hosts at our little Creekside cottage left a bag for us in a great gift basket and she ate it in about 30 minutes and would not willingly share. So we quickly went out and bought a pound of the stuff straight from the source. If you're ever in Grand Manan looking for dulse, just look for the hand lettered signs and you'll know where to go.
Here in Grand Manan we always buy it from Roland’s Sea Vegetables as we love their road side stand and to see the drying in full force. Check out their site for some fabulous dulse facts such as "A man should never eat more dulse than his wife".
At home we are able to find it in smaller quantities at the grocery store from Atlantic Mariculture who we just discovered we have family ties to and were happy to talk dulse this evening.
Dulse is a sea vegetable (sea weed if you like) that grows in the intertidal zones. It is hand harvested at low tide every two weeks to ensure it’s not overharvested. The dramatic tides of the Bay of Fundy make Dulse collection ideal and this little island produces most of the world’s supply. It’s the lovely red flat seaweed that look like fingers waving in the tides.
After it’s hand harvested from the frigid waters on the Bay of Fundy, it is carried into Dark Harbour (pictured above) in small boats and then dried on large nets on stone in the sun. It's really lovely to see the nets of dulse being tended to and there seems to be a real art to it.
After it dries, it is shaken in this contraption to get the sand and shells out and then packaged up.
It comes soft (chewy) or crispy (delicious). We eat it like chips and I add it to fish chowder. Its saltiness leads to its use on fish and on salads too, especially caesar. This trip I have just started experimenting with toasting it, my great aunts use to do it on top of the wood stove, I just use a frying pan.
Rebecca is part dulse as it was a major pregnancy craving of mine. I think this is because of the high mineral content as it contains calcium potassium, magnesium, iron, iodine, manganese, copper, chromium, zinc, as well as vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C and E. Apparently it also is high in protein which explains quite a bit as I seem to be protein starved.
Even though we bought a pound a few days ago, I think we'll make one final stop for another pound or two before we leave. Anybody in Toronto need some dulse?