Lobstah, 12 Ways

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The pleasure of eating lobster is intense, and the reward-to-work ratio is unsurpassed, all of which is fun to talk about. What’s not so fun to talk about is lobsters and pain, which is why I’m going to avoid it. All of us lobster eaters do. (If you want a full consideration of the lobster/pain issue — one that resolves absolutely nothing but grapples with it beautifully — read David Foster Wallace’s hilarious essay “Consider the Lobster.”)

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Posted in Recipes, Seafood

Maine Attraction

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Maine, to the outsider’s view, seems as food-conscious right now as California. (The Winter/Spring issue of Maine Policy Review, devoted to food and with a very cool cover, is 250 pages, some of which are even worth reading.) Of course it’s all whom you talk to, but it sure was easy enough to meet people who wanted to talk food. (And that, as we know, is happening everywhere, increasingly. Good.)

I was encouraged to come up by Ingrid Bengis-Palei, who’s been supplying top chefs in New York and elsewhere with Maine scallops, lobsters, sea urchins and more, for more than 20 years. (She has kept FedEx profitable.) I first encountered her name when Eberhard Müller was chef at Le Bernardin; that, I think, was in 1988. (Eberhard and I went scalloping that winter on Nantucket, not because we were afraid of Maine but because we were after bay scallops, not the huge sea scallops for which Maine is justifiably known.)

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Posted in Farming, Travel

DIY Clambake

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A clambake is one of those absurdly demanding culinary tasks that can still be performed by normal people — that is, nonchefs. And your first clambake can go well: the hardest part is finding the right beach, preferably one with an abundance of seaweed, big rocks and dry wood. It’s still not an intuitive process; at my first clambake, I wound up scraped, burned and sore, and the food I produced was undercooked and sandy. Part of this was drinking too much, too early, and part of it was that I was making it up as I went along.

I’ve worked through all of that. And if you follow my “recipe” (which includes phrases I don’t often employ, like “find about 30 rocks, each 6 by 4 inches”), you should have a memorable experience. Few meals are more beautiful than a well-executed clambake. And because demanding culinary tasks are in vogue, at least for a certain hard-working segment of the sustainable-food set, it seems like the right moment for a clambake revival.

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Posted in American, Seafood

A Comfy Bed For Lobsters

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by Daniel Meyer

[Why didn’t I think of this? – mb] 

If you can get fresh lobsters, chances are that you can also get fresh seaweed. A nice fishmonger should be able to order some for you, or an enterprising mother can just wade into the ocean and bring it home in a bucket. This is exactly the project that my mom decided take on for the 4th of July (I’m only writing about this now because I just had some pretty tasteless lobster and it reminded me how good my mom’s was). 

I got a phone call from my mom (Anne) at 8:00 on a Friday morning while I was working at the farmers’ market. She was calling from the Atlantic Ocean, wading just off the coast of Cape Cod, where she was gathering seaweed for cooking lobsters. She brought it home in a plastic trashcan, and kept it soaking in water for a few days until it was time for her to cook 4th of July dinner. 

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Posted in Seafood

Politics of the Plate

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by Barry Estabrook

Where Have All the Lobsters Gone?

On Cape Cod, Mass., nothing says summer evening as clearly as a big pot of boiling seawater and a mess of locally caught lobsters. Thanks to warming ocean temperatures, the all-important “local” component of that timeless ritual may soon be a thing of the past.

With Cape Cod lobster catches reduced to a quarter of what they were in the 1990s, officials are thinking of imposing a five-year closure of the fishery from the Cape to New York’s Long Island Sound. Continue reading

Posted in Food Politics, Seafood