August 19th, 2007

Maine - Lobster Rolls galore!

I'm back, did you miss me?

We just returned from a lovely, relaxing vacation in Maine. We rented a house on Spring River Lake, up by Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park for a week, as we did last year. Given that the house was in a town so remote it didn't even have a name, just a designation (Township 10), there wasn't a lot of dining out during the week. So, there was lots of cooking. Lots and lots of cooking. We grilled all sorts of stuff: rib eye, sausages, swordfish, ribs, lamb loin chops, rack of lamb. There was also copious desserts: hot chocolate chip cookies for ice cream sandwiches, rice krispie treats, peach bread pudding, smores, and even a birthday cake, ablaze with a zillion candles (Happy Birthday, Shane!). My mother's bounty of summer veggies and assorted pastas rounded out the meals.

Gotta discuss the smores; R decided it was time to upscale the classic campfire treat and got an ample selection of chocolates: milk (35%), dark (65%), creme burlee flavored and chocolate with toasted coconut. He also devised a special tin foil tray to hold the graham cracker and chocolate near the fire so that the chocolate could achieve full melty goodness. It took forever, but finally with all these accoutrements he was able to achieve the perfect smore. He believes that dark chocolate is the best.

The dining out we did do was just that, outside. We ate at shacks serving up seafood rolls, clams and ice cream. R and I consumed a total of 5 lobster rolls during the week, three were from Jordan's snack bar, en route from Ellsworth to the house. Jordan's was very affordable ($13) and very decent, but nothing compared to the the other place we had lobster rolls, the infamous Red's Eats. Red's is in Wiscasset, Maine, on Rt. 1, right before the bridge. ( It's a tiny little shack, but it has received dozens of awards and accolades from a list including everything from Bon Appetit to Food Network, for Maine's best lobster roll. They claim there is meat from “over a whole lobster in each roll,” and they serve it on a hot, buttered, grilled, split top roll. My favorite part is they ask you if you want butter or mayo on the side. R and I always get one of each and share; we spread the mayo over the big hunks of tail, claw and knuckle meat and then drizzle the clarified butter over it. Perfection. One caveat; there is ALWAYS a long line. I have never managed to wait less than 25 minutes for my lobster roll. We arrived at 11:15am (they open at 11:30) and there was already 6 groups ahead of us in line. People start lining up at 11am and it doesn't stop till they close. It's almost ludicrous enough that I want to skip it, but I never do (not that R would let me anyways). There are those on that feel Sarah's cafe across the street from Red's does a better lobster roll, without the ridiculous line, so I sent R to fetch us a roll while we waited for our other rolls, but he got confused and overwhelmed by the menu and returned empty-handed. Our Red's rolls were fantastic and worth the wait; for $16 it's a good deal (At B&G in Boston it's $23 a roll). We rounded out our meal with a crab cake (very tasty, although a little over fried) and fried dough (R is an addict, he can't stay away from the stuff).

After Red's we continued south to Bath and took a detour to Five Island Lobster Company in Georgetown Island ( Five Island is my favorite place in the world to have steamed lobsters and clams. You order your food inside a shack and sit at a picnic table of the pier watching the lobster boats and the gulls, with the sound and smell of the ocean. It's classic Maine. And as much as I love lobster, there is nothing better than a hot steamer, dunked in clarified butter; it's warm, briny goodness explodes it your mouth.

Take a drive up the coast and hit both places, trust me, it's worth it.