Friday, June 12, 2009

Lobster Rolls Galore

Greetings! Here I am, back from a glorious week-long jaunt to lovely New England, where I took it upon myself to sample as much of the local cuisine as possible. That’s right: lobster rolls. Anywhere and everywhere I could. It was a no-holds-barred, butter-riffic, wicked-awesome, antebellum, Yankees-suck Lobster Roll Challenge, if you will. What-what?!

New England, of course, is lobster obsessed -- and with good reason. So abundant is this subaquatic gem that I can recall few menus over the week that didn’t include it somewhere. We’ve got tacos, steak, and refried beans; they’ve got lobster, clams, and mussels. Go figure.

And the rolls are something special indeed: tender, sweet, opulent meat is lightly dressed and mounded into a split-top bun. High on flavor, low on mess. So simple, yet so delicious. Of the five we sampled, here are our three faves. And fyi, the pictures do *not* do them justice. Lo siento -- I was hungry!

NEPTUNE OYSTER -- Boston, Massachusetts
A friend recommended Neptune as her #1, and we happened to pass it on our self-guided tour of the North End. Hmmm, a 45-minute wait... Can you make one to go? Of course! What we got was a grilled-till-golden brioche bun packed with oceanic booty. Huge pieces of ruby-colored goodness protruded with authority. Add a little bit o’ mayo and a dash of lemon, and this one was gone in 60 seconds.

THE CLAM SHACK -- Kennebunkport, Maine
Locals warned us not to miss this classic, and we’re sure glad we listened. The Clam Shack, which is both as divey and as cute as it sounds, uses an entire lobster in each roll -- two claws, two knuckles, and a tail. Not sliced, not diced, not chopped. Just piled high onto a gorgeous homemade bun. While a slight spread of mayo or butter gives it a little kick, this one is the epitome of simple goodness.

Right on the harbor in the Old Port, Portland Lobster Co. uses meat that’s picked fresh from Maine lobsters each morning. Sling it into a toasted split-top hot dog roll, add a slight drizzle of clarified butter and a sheet of romaine lettuce, and you’re good to go. This one also comes with a small side of coleslaw, which I gratefully added to my roll. You can take the girl outta Texas, but... Well, you know.

Haven’t had a lobster roll? For shame! @imneverfull recently loved the one at Houston’s own Rainbow Lodge, but suggests we avoid the canned version at Grum Bar. Or if you’re looking for a challenge, try whipping up this summer staple at home.

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