This summer, my husband Dean and I decided to send our kids to a summer camp in Maine, which requires a long drive down a straight highway from Connecticut.
I heard Maine is a terrific summer destination and vacation spot, so the thought of exploring the cold state during the summer comforted my Brazilian blood and desire to discover its regional assets and cuisine.
Maine has a lot of blueberries and potatoes, but it’s mostly mostly about lobsters. It’s as if the lobster abundance gives meaning to Maine, a symbol of the cold weather this far north.
Lobster from Maine comes with a pedigree as fishmongers have managed to make their fisheries extremely efficient and sustainable.
We stopped by a friendly drive in on the road called Cameron’s, where Thomas got one whole beast on the plate.
Cooking lobster alive can be quite daunting (more about that in a second), and even when the beast is already boiled and plated, it can still be intimidating. But Thomas took after his daddy’s love for shellfish and embraced the challenge. Lobster victory!
I ate a lobster BLT that was simply divine.
Lobster roll is a big issue here in Maine, and each eatery claims it should be done the way they prepare it. But there are arguments about it: mayo or butter? Chives and celery, or plain? Scallions perhaps? Lettuce? And what about the bread: hot dog bun or hamburger roll?
You may find variations across the board, but I have never eaten a bad lobster roll on my trip to Maine. They all range from good to wonderful.
The next day, after we dropped our kids at camp, we met with native author Charlie Wing and his wife Barbara.
They took us to a salty pier where fisherman dress in tall rubber boats and suspensory, looking like captains of the industry—as they really are— starting their day at 5 am to go fishing.
Afterwards, we ate lunch at Holbrook’s Lobster Wharf & Grille
looking over the low green mountains in the distance and listening to the water rippling against the hulls of fishing boats.
The setting was magical, and the conversation engaging. The menu here represents the essence of this region and the ritual as well; there is no table service.
You pay by the window and wait until someone in the kitchen calls out loud for your number. The rest is between you and the lobster.
We brought a large cooler to bring lobsters home, after all, I wanted prepare rolls in my own kitchen. But before I cooked them, I needed to terminate their lives in the most humanly way. Searching through hundreds of articles, they all advised to freeze the beast for 15 minutes before plunging them into a big pot of boiling water. According to science research, this slows their metabolism. The operation brought memories of my training in cooking school and the first time I killed a lobster, watching their tails move as they slowly turn bright red. Not an easy task, regardless of all recommendations, but mission completed. My plan was to prepare a simple roll with pink meat covered in creamy sauce over a toasted and grilled bun and then, simply indulge. And that’s exactly what I did. Recipe inspired by Cook’s Illustrated.
1 lb lobster meat
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 stalck celery, finely diced
Zest of 1 lemon
Few drops of hot sauce, preferably Tabasco
2 tablespoons fresh chopped chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 hot dog buns
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1- Cut lobster meat gently into ½-inch pieces and place in a bowl.
2- Add the mayo, celery, lemon, tabasco, and chives and fold carefull with a rubber spatula. Season with salt and pepper.
3- Place a 12-inch skillet over low heat and add the butter until melted. Grill the buns in the skillet until crisp and lightly brownd on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.
4- Transfer buns to a platter and spoon the lobster salad into the buns. Serve immediately.
Camoeron’s Lobster House
18 Bath Road
Tel: (207) 725-2886
Holbrook’s Lobster Wharf & Grille
129 Court Street
Bath, ME 04530
Tel: (207) 443-5231