June 15, 2012
One of the greatest treats of summertime is sweet, tender lobster slathered in hot, dripping butter. But fork over the bibs and claw-crackers. Here are ten less traditional but no less taste-bud-enticing recipes for a round-the-clock lobster line-up.
Breakfast: Incorporating lobster into your morning meal brings a whole new meaning to taking advantage of the fresh catch of the day; lobstermen set out well before sunrise to bring home the spoils of their traps by dawn. Try one of these dishes for a fresh spin on breakfast.
Wild Mushroom and Lobster Pancakes: This recipe, created by Nantucket-turned-Connecticut restaurateurs Everett and Linda Reid, pairs lobster meat with garlic, shallots and wild mushrooms in a brown-sugar-based pancake. Top off the fluffy pancakes with salmon roe or caviar sprinkled over a cream garnish.
Cheesy Scallion and Lobster Quiche: Simple and versatile, this recipe may be made with non-fat ingredients for a more heart-healthy hearty breakfast. Swiss cheese and paprika lend additional layers of flavor to the dish. A pre-made nine-inch pie crust will cut your prep time down significantly, leaving most of the work up to your oven.
Baked Lobster and Egg: Serve up this hero in a half shell to make a statement while entertaining guests. The recipe calls for halving lobsters and baking veggies and eggs right alongside the lobster meat. The finished dish creates a bold-looking plate.
Lunch: Match lobster with fresh produce to pull off one of these quick and easy midday meals.
Avocado and Lobster Quesadilla: Creamy goat cheese complements sweet lobster and avocado in this twist on Southwestern cuisine. Turn up the heat by introducing diced jalapeno to all the melted, flaky goodness.
Mango and Lobster Salad: The super easy and super succulent recipe calls for mango and lobster chunks to be tossed in a sweet honey, basil and lemon cream sauce.
Dinner: Retire the worn-out surf and turf routine and opt for one of these dishes which styles lobster into traditional American, Italian or Asian cuisine.
Lemon Aioli Lobster Burger: Tuna and salmon burger lovers, rejoice. Lobster and crab combine to create one seriously scrumptious seafood sandwich. Serve on a traditional burger bun or herbed focaccia bread.
Ricotta Salata and Lobster Pizza: Chef Lydia Shire of Boston’s Scampo restaurant created this recipe, which uses a special salted variety of ricotta cheese. Opt for white, wheat or half-and-half dough. While Shire creates this masterpiece in a wood-fired oven, a conventional oven set to 400 degrees Fahrenheit will do the trick just fine.
Lobster Curry: Bring some color to your cheeks with this hot and tingly supper. Serve lobster and curry over wild rice for a more substantial serving. Spice curry to taste.
Dessert: Land-lubbers beware, sweet lobster meat can find its way into every course of the day. Don’t try this with chicken.
Lobster Cheesecake: Pretzel-crumb crust and hints of zesty lemon and dill balance out the flavor profile of this decadent dessert.
August 23, 2011
In the criminal justice system, those who live outside the law sometimes meet their downfall through their relationship with food. These special cases keep cropping up, and some themes even begin to emerge, be it Jell-O-centric criminal behavior or the nefarious activities of ice cream peddlers. Take your fill of a few more stories from the underbelly. (Here is the apropos sound effect if you’d like to play it as you read each entry.)
Port St. Lucie, Florida. July, 2011. A minor beef.
It was a drug deal that spun out of control. Timethy Morrison shelled out $100 for marijuana, and the dealer drove up and handed Morrison a white bag through his car window and began to drive off. Inspection of the bag’s contents, however, revealed nothing but ground beef, and Morrison promptly turned around and fired several shots at the dealer’s Volvo and fled the scene. He was later apprehended and charged with attempted murder, burglary, escape, possession of marijuana and providing a false name to a law enforcement officer.
Kittery, Maine. March 2010. “Redemption is a dirty business.”
Many states add a 5-cent deposit to the price of bottled and canned drinks—and you can get that deposit back if you return your empties a redemption facility. But in addition to the consumer getting back a bit of change, the facility is paid a handling fee on the order of a few cents for every can processed. It is illegal for facilities to process out-of-state containers, since a state’s beverage industry is paying back those deposits. But a at a few cents a pop, who would put the effort into working the system? Attention turned to Green Bee Redemption in Kittery Maine, when Dennis Reed of New Hampshire rolled up with some 11,000 empty bottles and cans. Reed, along with the facility’s owners, Thomas and Megan Woodard, were all charged with fraud. During the Woodards’ trial, it was revealed that they arranged for Reed, along with Green Bee employee Thomas Prybot of Massachusetts, to collect large quantities of cans which would then be dropped off at the Maine facility after hours. Thomas was found guilty of stealing more than $10,000 by way of processing the illegal empties while his wife was acquitted. Reed is slated to stand trial in October while Prybot was not prosecuted for his role in the crime in exchange for his testimony. It is estimated that some $8 million worth of bottle fraud takes place in Maine every year.
Holyoke, Massachusetts. August, 2010. A load of baloney.
Postal inspectors in Puerto Rico had been working with authorities to try to crack down on illegal drugs being sent via mail to the United States—and their attentions turned to Juan Rodriguez of Holyoke, Massachusetts, after several parcels were sent to his home in May and June of 2010. When the post office alerted Holyoke police about another shipment being sent to Rodriguez, narcotics dogs detected the presence of drugs and an undercover agent delivered the package. After the package was signed for, police raided the residence—and it turned out that Rodriguez had a way with b-o-l-o-g-n-a. About 2.2 pounds of cocaine, worth about $100,000 on the street, had been hidden inside a hollowed-out loaf of luncheon meat. Rodriguez was arrested and charged with cocaine trafficking.
Webster, Massachusetts. July, 2008. Get ‘em while they’re hot.
On July 27, 2008, a tractor trailer traveling on Interstate 395 was involved in an accident and overturned, spilling its contents—a shipment of live lobster—and tow-truck operator Robert Moscoffian was called to the scene. Prosecutors allege that Moscoffian also called Arnold A. Villatico, owner of Periwinkles & Giorgio’s restaurant to the scene, who drove to the site with his refrigerated truck, and the pair took crates of lobster from the scene, with an estimated value of some $200,000, and sold them to local restaurants. Some of the upscale crustaceans were returned to the authorities, and the contraband lobsters discovered at Periwinkles & Giorgio’s were released into Boston Harbor. Indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit larceny, larceny over $250 and selling raw fish without a license, Moscoffian and Villatico are currently slated to stand trial in 2012.
August 9, 2011
I think most of us are familiar with the sardonic idiom “no good deed goes unpunished.” The idea is that no matter what goodness someone tries to bring into the world, the intentions will ultimately backfire. Foods that have been carefully crafted to induce pleasurable sensory experiences can also become victims of this truism. While there may be no use for crying over spilled milk, the loss of certain other foods might certainly merit a handkerchief. In the following stories, no good food goes unpunished.
Them’s the Breaks: Australia’s Mollydooker winery produces Velvet Glove, a premium shiraz that retails for around $200 a bottle. Its flavor has been described as a combination of “blueberry, black and damson plum, with a panoply of sweet spices” that makes for a “seductive, rich, viscous, and multi-layered Shiraz powerhouse.” With so much promise—and such a price tag—it was nothing short of tragic when, on July 22 of this year, an unsteady forklift dropped a container of the precious wine destined for the United States. Suffering a 6 meter (about 20 feet) fall, all but one of the 462 cases of wine were completely destroyed, at a loss of more $1 million.
Belated War Casualty: When a World War II-era German mine was found off the coast of Swanage, England in October 2009, the British Royal Navy was promptly alerted. Upon investigation, divers found a lobster had taken up residence there and lovingly named him Lionel. They tried to coax the crustacean out of his home, but the crabby lobster belligerently refused to be evicted, delivering a few nips to the trespassers. Needing to dispose of the bomb and left with no other alternatives, the Navy cleared the area and detonated the 600-pound explosive with Lionel still inside. (Granted, there was no indication that this particular lobster was going to be consumed—but he certainly had the potential.)
Smoked Sturgeon: The Mote Marine Laboratory’s Aquaculture Park in Sarasota, Florida raises Siberian sturgeon, which are harvested for their roe—a high-end treat we know in its packaged form as caviar. But on July 20, 2006, employees noticed plumes of smoke emanating from one of the buildings that houses the fish tanks, which contained sturgeon that were just mature enough to begin producing caviar. The six-alarm fire ultimately killed some 30 tons of fish—more than a third of the farm’s population. The caviar that could have been harvested from those fish over a three-year period would have netted an estimated $2.5 million.
Too Good to Eat: Truffles are considered to be a luxury foodstuff, and Italian white truffles are exceptionally rare mushrooms that grows underground and are hailed for their earthy flavor. One such mushroom weighing 1.9 pounds—the second largest known in the world—fetched $112,000 at an international charity auction in 2005. The winning bidder was a syndicate of regular diners at Zafferano, an Italian restaurant in Knightsbridge, England. The fungus was put on display at the dining spot for several days, attracting visitors from as far away as France and Spain. Soon after its arrival, chief chef Andy Needham had to leave on business and the truffle was locked in the kitchen’s fridge. Upon his return, it was discovered that the mushroom was past its peak and the only person to have savored a piece while the truffle was in its prime was newspaper reporter Nick Curtis, who raved about the truffle’s flavor, describing it as “halfway between that of a smoked cheese and strong mushroom.” The truffle was buried in Needham’s garden.
Overturned by Revolution: In 1979, Islamic rebels overthrew Iran’s monarchy to establish a theocratic republic—and Islamic law forbids the consumption of alcohol. Tehran’s Intercontinental Hotel was resplendent with fine and rare liqueurs in addition to having a fabulously well-stocked wine cellar, a collection that was estimated to be worth in the neighborhood of $1.2 million. But instead of exporting the spirits out of the country, revolutionary guards poured the entire stock down the gutter. As of June 1979, Tehran newspapers reported that more than $14 million worth of alcoholic beverages had been destroyed.
May 10, 2011
The old method of getting goodies from a vending machine is being revamped by the Pepsi Corporation with its new Social Vending System. Dispensing with clunky slots for coins and bills in favor of a touchscreen that allows you to look at the nutritional information of the products therein, this new species of machine is also hopping on the social networking bandwagon: people can use the machines to send drinks to friends, complete with personalized text and video messages. (The recipient gets a message on a cell phone and they have to go to a Social Vending Machine and enter a code to redeem the gift.) But because you have to enter telephone numbers to use the social features of the machine, questions arise about how personal data is stored and used, an issue inherent in all social media. At this time, Pepsi says that personal data will not be stored unless the user grants permission.
Is this the next logical step in our ongoing quest for convenience or does it make accessing foodstuffs more complicated than it should be? Corporate efforts to create glowing vending-machine eye candy have a long and sometimes ridiculous history. (If you have the patience, this mid-century video walks you through the ins and outs of vending machine salesmanship.) Would you go to a machine for any of the following things?
This variation on the claw machine arcade game may very well be the greatest visual pun in food marketing. That’s right: you use your gaming skills to catch your own live lobster; however, if you are fortunate enough to nab one of the skittering crustaceans, you may find yourself in a bit of a pickle. Apparently takeaway bags aren’t a standard part of the machine rig, so you may need to bring your own.
Farmers who sell their eggs directly to consumers can pop a vending machine at the entrance of their property and passersby can drop in their money and walk away with a tray of farm fresh goods. Some famers have even noticed an increased demand for their products since installing the machine. The German branch of PETA offered its own variation, placing live hens in the machine to make a statement about the living conditions of these animals on farms.
In 2010, Pennsylvania unveiled two wine vending machines—however, users have to swipe their ID and pass a breathalyzer test before they can lay their hands on a bottle of vino. And if you have wine aficionados for friends, would you ever tell them that you’re serving them something that came from a vending machine?
4. Pecan Pie
The Bedroll Pecan Farm, Candy and Gift Company in Cedar Creek, Texas offers its wares via a vending machine, from a 9″ Pecan pie to pecan brittle.
The Shop 2000 allows users to buy toiletries, milk, snack items and other convenience store fare. In 2002, one of these machines was installed in D.C. near the intersection of 18th St. NW and California St. under the name Tik Tok Easy Shop. (It no longer existed as of 2003)
And for more on unique vending machines, check out Around the Mall blogger Megan Gambino’s piece on the Art-o-Mat, which sells you works of art out of a revamped and refurbished cigarette machines.
February 22, 2011
Our theme for this month’s Inviting Writing is food and dating. As Lisa explained in a story about three first dates at the same sushi restaurant, we were looking for tales of “first dates, last dates, romantic dates, funny dates, dates that resulted in marriage proposals, dates that were only memorable for what you ate.”
Our first entry comes from Helene Paquin of Toronto. She is a business analyst and social media specialist who blogs about her book club and wine.
Valentine’s Day à la Maine
By Helene Paquin
The last thing I want to do on Valentine’s Day is go to a restaurant. It’s full of potential pitfalls. There are the long lines, the service that is too fast for my liking and the atmosphere of being surrounded by couples who are out to appear normal and very happy when in fact they look miserable, starving for conversation and checking their watches because the baby sitter has to leave at 10:00. It’s like being surrounded by insincere, clichéd greeting cards. Nope, this is not for me.
For the past 20 years I have followed the same ritual. We stay in. We treat ourselves to some good champagne and buy live lobsters to cook at home. It almost didn’t work out that way. Our first Valentine’s together was also the first time we cooked live lobsters. How hard can it be? Boil water, add salt and pop them in there and voilà, a perfect meal. Easy peasy, right?
Let me just say something about live animals…especially live animals with claws. They are feisty creatures and will attempt to escape from a boiling pot onto your kitchen floor given the chance. We actually cut off the rubber bands on the first one and threw him in. However he quickly spread-eagled before hitting the water and wouldn’t fit into the pot. Grabbing tongs, we quickly forced him in, covered the pot and waited. It was awful. We could hear his clanging along the sides of the pot for a few seconds. We just looked at each other in horror and full of guilt. This was not very romantic at all.
Since then we’ve learned to cook lobsters properly. Rest them on their heads till their tails curl so they are easier to handle.
Maybe Valentine dates should be spent in restaurants after all. They hide where food comes from and spare diners from the realities of food prep. That’s definitely the more romantic way to go.