June 29, 2010

Lobster Rolls


One of my favorite foods of all time is lobster. Chunky, perfectly intact, unadulterated pieces of claw or tail meat. Dipped in butter or nothing at all—the flavor and texture just can't be beat. It wasn't until a couple years ago that I discovered a new way to enjoy this delicious crustacean: meet the lobster roll. Earlier this month I had the honor of participating in the TastingTable Lobster Roll Claw-Off, which made all of my friends supremely jealous (whether they admitted it or not.) My verdict and more pics on the next page. 


The friendly competition invited eight NYC restaurants to enter their signature lobster rolls for public judgment. After a few hours of gorging my face with the succulent meat and toasted bread, I decided that my two favorites were from The Mermaid Inn and BLT Fish. The Mermaid Inn roll had a warm, spicy heat to it and the meat was chopped to generous hunks. The brioche bun was also so rich in butter, that I could almost bathe in the aroma that their griddle gave off. BLT Fish also had substantial chunks in their roll, and meat was tender and moist.


The official winner was Luke's Lobster (shown above), which I can understand but I respectfully disagree. There was nothing inherently wrong with the roll, but the flavors were lackluster. Their roll was nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, I could have sworn that I've had better rolls from them at other tastings. To add to the irony, each roll took a ridiculously long time to make. I felt like I was at a crowded bar where the bartenders were unfairly ignoring me. The line for Luke's was consistently the longest of the whole event, maybe due to its popularity or maybe just due to its slow production line. Whatever the reason, it must have had a positive influence on the judging.


On a brighter note, Red Hook Lobster Pound also brought out a noteworthy roll. Entire claws were common finds in their sandwiches.


The most creative presentation? Ditch Plains takes the cake. Black t-shirts and salt water taffy littered the table, and they also had their griddle set on a signature stack of bricks. There's Marc Murphy enjoying a quick (and candid) bite!

At the end of the night, lobster-shaped candies were passed out by an animated fellow in a bright red lobster suite. Also, The Underground Lobster Pound guy crashed the party and handed out dozens of "Lobster Rolls to Go," wrapped in aluminum foil. Now that I think about it, it was probably one of the better rolls at the show. I would definitely put it right behind BLT Fish. 

With so much lobster in the room, we inevitably encountered the point of diminishing returns to intake. But that isn't going to stop us from eating lobster on a daily basis through July 4th weekend. B and I are planning an exciting road trip up to Bar Harbor, ME this weekend to do some hiking, cruising, relaxing, and (of course) eating. 

For more photos of the event, click here.


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