Thursday, June 26, 2008

On A Roll

I’ve started out summer a little grumpy. (Okay, grumpier.) The reason is I won’t be going to my beloved Province-town this year. P-town sits at the very tip of Cape Cod and for me is the fulfillment of everything I enjoy and look forward to about summer. I could go on and on about why this is so but won’t. Since the focus here is food, I’ll stick to that and especially one favorite item: the lobster roll.

First of all, I’m not talking about sushi. A lobster roll is the sandwich of choice throughout New England. The closer I get to the ocean, the better they seem to taste. Correctly speaking, there are two types of lobster rolls. If you’re a purist, a lobster roll is simply hunks of lobster meat drizzled with melted mutter on a toasted roll. The other version is a lobster salad roll made with mayonnaise and a little celery. They both have their fans and detractors. I love them both.

For whatever reason, I can’t find an authentic lobster roll away from the East Coast. Maine lobsters are sold around the world but not real lobster rolls. Elsewhere, I’ve had all kinds of wonderful lobster sandwiches … at fancy restaurants … made by well-intentioned and kind friends trying to appease my cravings (and shut me up) … and yes, even by me (and I believe I can cook just about anything). But, none of these best efforts resulted in an authentic lobster roll. None were as appealing or as satisfying.

Perhaps the reason for my fascination with lobster rolls is because I can’t just go out and have one anytime I want one. Strawberries and asparagus use to have a similar allure … something I looked forward to with the changing of the seasons. Now they are omnipresent and not near as sweet, succulent or desirable as they once were. No small part of my infatuation is the quest to find the perfect lobster roll. I’ve come close to finding it but always know in my gut that there’s something better out there and I have to keep looking for it. The photo of the lobster roll is from a clam shack in Brewster on Cape Cod called Cobie’s, a find for sure.

If you’re unfamiliar lobster rolls be forewarned that they’re not only addictive but expensive as well. Like oil, their price index is on the rise. Unlike gasoline, I don’t ever remember lobster rolls being cheap. Locals always brag about the ‘good old days’ when lobsters were so plentiful you couldn’t give them away but that is even before my time. Today a quality lobster roll will set you back about 15 bucks. Use to be they always came with chips or fries but more often than not now that will cost extra. You can find them just about everywhere in New England ... yes, there is a McLobster roll at you know where … but if you encounter an economy lobster roll be wary. New Englanders are known for being thrifty but also know a lot about lobsters, especially what they are worth.
I try to tell myself if I lived in Provincetown that I’d be longing for bratwurst right now. I don’t think so.

As long as I’m reminiscing about P-town I have to mention the Sea Breeze, for many years the drink of choice there and something I can get at most bars in Madison. But, the venue of choice to consume a Sea Breeze is on the outdoor terrace of the Boatslip in Provincetwn at their daily tea dance in summer. This cocktail is made with vodka, grapefruit juice and a splash of cranberry juice. It’s a refreshing summer cooler and not as cloying as a Cosmo (a drink many claim originated in Provincetown). Over the years and after many trips I’ve development my own variation that I call a P-towner. Here is the recipe.


2 ounces orange vodka
4 ounces cranberry juice
1 ounce grapefruit juice
Lime wedge

Fill an old fashioned glass with ice and add the orange vodka, cranberry juice and grapefruit juice. Stir and serve with the lime wedge.

Makes 1 drink.

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