Anytime lobster is on the menu, people perk up and take notice, so what better way to impress your guests this Thanksgiving with recipes for a four-course lobster meal they’ll be remembering long past November?
Lobster Corn Chowder
Corn, the quintessential fall harvest, pairs beautifully with succulent Maine lobster in this hot and tasty warm-up. Get farm-fresh corn if you can, and let the cobs and lobster shells do double-duty in a flavorful stock. With bacon, Yukon gold potatoes and cream sherry, this dish sets the stage for what’s to come, leaving your guests excited for more.
Lobster and Bacon-Stuffed Jalapeno Bites
Talk about hot — this appetizer is one of the hottest (in a savory way) you can present this Thanksgiving — and so very easy to prepare. Lobster From Maine’s recipe calls for only eight ounces of lobster, which amounts to about two 1 ½ pound lobsters. With cream cheese, sizzling bacon and sour cream and chives rounding out the flavors, the hollowed-out jalapeno pepper serves as a vibrant and spicy bite.
This delectable pocket of freshly-baked, buttery puff-pastry with creamy lobster inside will make guests think you spent hours on this dish, but it’s relatively simple. Crank up the slivered garlic in clarified butter with sautéed chopped onions and sliced mushrooms, then top off the rich flavors with the sherry, egg yolks, cream, nutmeg and cayenne and you’ve got an unforgettable dish that people will try to copy next year.
After steaming a couple of 1 ½ pound lobsters, you’ll be able to turn out a rich and creamy side dish for an elegant Thanksgiving dinner. Add the lobster tail shells to the broth for additional flavor and cut back on the cayenne and cream in this recipe to let the natural risotto texture shine through.
Use any one of these star dishes (or all four!) for a memorable Thanksgiving. For more seasonal lobster dish recipes, visit our blog on the Maine Lobster Festival website.
Blog and photo republished courtesy of Maine Lobster Festival
HISTORIC INNS OF ROCKLAND JOIN MAINE LOBSTER PROMOTION COUNCIL & PENOBSCOT BAY REGIONAL CHAMBER TO CELEBRATE LOBSTER HARVEST WITH LOBSTERPALOOZA
Mark August 26-31 on the calendar to celebrate all things lobster in Rockland & Camden
Rockland, ME – Cheryl Michaelsen, owner of the Berry Manor Inn in Rockland, ME, couldn’t stand to sit by and watch on the sidelines as lobstermen and women in this Midcoast, Maine town caught near record lobster hauls while traditional Canadian markets rejected them. The result, as we all know, has meant prices have dropped while lobster remains in abundance this summer. Michaelsen turned to her fellow colleagues at the Historic Inns of Rockland and said “Let’s turn lobsters into Lobsteraid!” Lobsterpalooza was the brainstorm of the four progressive Historic Inns of Rockland who then enlisted support from the Maine Lobster Promotion Council and the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce to raise enthusiasm for eating lobster and celebrating an abundant supply in the Midcoast this summer. Lobsterpalooza is a weeklong celebration of lobster taking place August 26-31 in Rockland, Camden and surrounding towns where businesses celebrate the lobster harvest with everything from a crustacean cash mob to featured specials, events and more. Lobsterpalooza is just one of the many events happening during the Maine Lobster Lovers Celebration, a promotion created by the Maine Lobster Promotion Council.
“It makes sense that we’d hold Lobsterpalooza in Rockland and Camden,” said Michaelsen, “After all, we are the self-proclaimed lobster capital of the universe! This is our way of reminding residents and travelers alike how lucky we are to enjoy the abundant supply of lobster here this summer,” finished Michaelsen.
To date nearly 40 restaurants, spas and retail stores have signed on to feature lobster for the Lobsterpalooza week with everything from a free lobster with special spa treatments at spas to a lobster off the boat from Captain Jack’s Lobster Adventures. The four Historic Inns of Rockland will feature lobster on the breakfast menu during Lobsterpalooza week, while offering specially discounted tickets for lobster adventures. A number of restaurants including Café Miranda, Sweets and Meats Market and In Good Company, Bricks Restaurant, Amalfi by the Water and many additional restaurants will feature new lobster entrees on the menu along with old favorites. Additionally, Crustacean Cash Mobs will be held at Jess’s Market on Tuesday, August 28th andShip to Shore Lobster Company in Owl’s Head on Thursday, , August 30th .. Cash mobs are the perfect way to support local, independent businesses, and in this case local fishermen. Simply plan to buy lobster on August 28th from Jess’s Market and August 30th from Owl’s Head’s Ship to Shore Lobster Co.. Additionally, Cellardoor Winery will feature a Lobster Lover’s cooking class on August 31 and All Aboard Trolley Company will offer a special “Nap-AH and Lob-STAH” Wine tour on Monday, August 27th .
Lobsterpalooza will feature a drawing for a Lobster Lover’s Getaway to be enjoyed in June, 2013. Sign up to win at all participating businesses.
No purchase is necessary and a winner will be drawn at the close of Lobsterpalooza week. The lucky winner will receive a grand prize June 2013 Lobster Lover’s Getaway including:
· Two nights accommodations at a choice of four Historic Inns of Rockland, sometime in June 2013
· Breakfast each morning.
· Two Got Lobster T-shirts, lobster hats and chocolate lobsters
· Tour of Ship to Shore Lobster Company pound and lobster dinner for two on the docks
· $50 gift certificate to Café Miranda for Lobster Mac n Cheese or choice of other lobster entrée
· Two tickets for Captain Jack’s Lobster Adventure
· A lobster lovers gift basket filled with offers and gift certificates from many other Rockland businesses (including Archers on the Pier, Waterworks Restaurant, Sweets and Meats, Clan MacLaren)
Participating businesses will post Lobsterpalooza posters in the windows. Entry forms will be available at participating businesses and at Camden and Rockland visitor centers.
Here’s the full line up of the events celebrating lobster during Lobsterpalooza:
August 27: All Aboard Trolley Nap-AH and LOB-Stah Winery Tour – enjoy wine and lobster tastings.
August 28: All day: Jess’s Market Cash Mob, Rockland– Plan to buy local to support local fishermen
August 28: 2-3pm: Between Fact and Fiction: The Subculture of Maine Lobstermen, Breakwater Room at the Maine Lighthouse Museum: K. Stephens, a Midcoast author of The Ghost Trap will host a presentation/fiction reading about Maine's lobstermen. The Ghost Trap (Leapfrog Press, 2009) follows the haunting story of Jamie Eugley, a young lobsterman struggling with the grinding responsibilities of a head-injured fiancée and mounting trap wars in a fictional setting based around Tenants Harbor, Spruce Head, Port Cyde and Friendship.
August 30: Ship to Shore Lobster Cash Mob, Owl’s Head – Plan to enjoy lobster today from this local lobster pound
August 31: Oceanside Mariner Home Opener Lobster Industry Recognition at Half Time
Lobster-Lovers Cooking Class at Cellardoor Winery (advanced reservations required)
photo: Eat Maine FB page
Well folks, this is an interesting summer to be in Maine. Because of a glut of spring lobsters caught, an abysmally low price for the catch and the fact that lobster is now cheaper than freakin' bologna right now, we have what is called an unspoken "tie-up." This is a fascinating chess move where lobstermen up and down the coast refuse to go hauling, but are forbidden to collude or pressure anyone from going out. The few folks I've spoken to who will naturally remain anonymous say that despite what you may think, this has been very peaceful. No trap molestation, no underground wars. These people work HARD and they're getting screwed. So do your part, buy some lobster this week; let's run down this glut, run up the price so these guys can go out fishing again! I'm including a column by Working Waterfront's Philip Conkling here, which explains how this has all gone down.
The Great Silent Lobster Tie Up
July 12, 2012 Column Long View
by Philip Conkling
This morning on Vinalhaven was eerily silent as the sky lightened in the east. No gulls keened, no ravens croaked and no muffled diesels thrummed on their way out of Carver’s Harbor. On the way to the morning ferry, little knots of lobstermen stood on the post office steps, in front of the Odd Fellows Hall and at the large parking lot where lobstermen park their trucks on their way to their boats.
As the 7 a.m. ferry pulled away from its pen, another half dozen lobster boats were similarly frozen in place in Sands Cove, along with a dozen more in Old Harbor and a few others at Dyer Island. When the ferry passed through Lairy’s Narrows and churned its way across West Penobscot Bay, no North Haven lobster boats were hauling off Crabtree Point. All the way down the bay past the lobster harbors of Owls Head, the Weskeag, and Sprucehead, the horizon was completely empty, as was the case from Rockland to Rockport to Camden on the western shore. It would be an exaggeration to say that the scene was like the empty skies the day after 9-11, but there is a similarity.
So how did this unprecedented cooperation among fishermen throughout a huge lobster fishing area happen? No one is saying, and for a good reason. It’s called the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, which prohibits collusion among businesses on practices that influence price. Since virtually all Maine lobstermen are independent businessmen, the law theoretically prohibits any lobstermen from talking to another and agreeing not to go fishing. That’s called “restraint of trade” and led to the conviction of Leslie Dyer, the first head of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, in federal court in 1958. It was a thunderously unpopular verdict, but has left a bitter enough legacy during the last half century that even talkative lobstermen run silent and deep when it comes to any mention of tie up.
The issue, however, is sensitive enough that Maine’s Commissioner of Marine Resources, Pat Kelliher, just released a statement cautioning any fishermen from issuing threats of force against any other fishermen who might continue to haul their traps. In the deafening silence of how the great silent lobster tie up has been be achieved, the “coconut wireless” has been unusually active. One such story is that a fisherman in one unnamed harbor hired a small plane to conduct surveillance to find out which boats were still fishing. Woe unto him.
The real explanation for the unprecedented inactivity in lobster fishing communities along much of the Maine coast is both simple and complicated. The simple explanation is price. Lobsters that a year ago were fetching only $2.50 per pound—a historically low price for this time of year, have fallen in many harbors to as low as $1.50 per pound. Almost nothing in the universe can create unanimity among lobstermen, but lobster prices have not been at such a low point for approximately 30 years. With prices this low, it is simply not worth leaving the dock.
The more complicated part of the story concerns why prices have plummeted to this abyssal level. And there the explanations are varied, each containing a piece of the truth. To begin with, the lobster shedder season started six weeks early this year in southern Maine after an eerie warm spell that lasted most of March. Lobster processors buy shedders to sell as claw and knuckle or lobster tail packs because they are cheaper than hard shells. Not only have the shedders come early, but their percentage of the landings has also increased—upwards of 70 percent in some harbors throughout May and June. Hard shell lobsters command as much as $2 more a pound than shedders, so typically in June, a lobstermen’s average price for his catch might hover around $3.50 per pound with a mix of shedders and hard shells. After the Fourth of July, when upwards of 90 percent of lobsters are shedders and their price is so depressed, well…you have to decide whether it is worth it to go fishing.
Added to this unhappy state of affairs, is that a number of lobster processors in Atlantic Canada have gone under in recent years, which has further reduced the demand for Maine’s shedders. Canadian lobstermen, who only fish in early spring and late fall, also reportedly landed larger catches than usual and filled much of the existing Canadian demand.
Then there is the state of the general economy. Few people realize that two of the biggest markets for Maine lobsters are the all-you-can-eat cruise lines and national restaurant chains like Red Lobster. The cruise lines have not distinguished themselves this year after the Costa Concordia ran aground in the Mediterranean and Seafood Business News recently published a story detailing how Red Lobster is overhauling its menu to appeal to more cost-conscious diners, which cannot bode well for the lobster industry.
And now for the real kicker: after many decades of self-imposed lobster conservation measures by the lobster industry, the population of lobsters crawling about the bottom of every bay, sound, thorofare, and tidal river is at a historic high. Just when the demand for Maine lobsters has slackened, the supply has gone off the charts, with the inevitable result of declining prices. So lobstermen have to decide it they want to address the fundamental structural business issue they face: they fish hardest for lobsters when the seasonal prices are lowest. In the long run, prices are only affected either by increasing demand—a long and expensive process—or by reducing supply—a painful and discouraging process. There are no silver bullets.
Almost three years ago, the governor’s lobster task force recommended a joint public-private strategy to invest in the “Maine” part of the state’s tarnished lobster brand, which has many imitators nationally (including fraudulent ones) and a lackluster reputation internationally. But lobstermen were just recovering from the shock of the onset of the Great Recession and balked at the recommendation of a five cent a pound levy on landed, brokered and processed lobsters to create a significant marketing and branding fund. The Lobster Advisory Council has recently resurrected a discussion about this strategy at meetings along the coast during the past month.
With lobstermen caught between the pincher of low prices and the crusher of increased fuel and bait costs, few expect to see a groundswell of enthusiasm for making a new investment under current price conditions, which are unlikely to improve very much anytime soon, or to reduce fishing days during the shedder season or some combination thereof. But then, you have to ask yourself, when is it a good time to invest in your business and brand? If you did not invest when times were good and your wallet was fat, what will you do when your back is against the wall?
Philip Conkling is President and Founder of the Island Institute based in Rockland, Maine.
If this article tells you anything, lobstering is right up there with Alaskan crab fishing as one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. 155 people died in the last decade on commercial fishing vessels nationally. Vessel disasters and crew members falling overboard were the leading causes of fatalities in this latest report. And at the end of this year, we just lost another one of our own Maine lobstermen when he got entangled in lobster line and was pulled overboard.
Maybe what I'm saying is patently obvious, but for so many people who came up this summer to specifically have their Maine lobster, I continue to post stories like these to show you exactly what goes into that steamed crustacean on that plate. It is a backbreaking, perilous profession and the men and women who are born into this life, work at it every day and put their lives at risk for this status symbol dish deserve a little attention for their efforts now and then.
Great idea for the holidays! This Chef's Kitchen video shows you how to do up some extra steamed lobster from the night before into a breakfast hash topped with poached eggs.
Watch the video
This Thanksgiving and holiday season--it's time to give the poor turkey a breather. It has been the culinary icon of holidays since we were all young enough to maneuver a crayon around all five fingers on construction paper and call it art.
I live in a state where the one culinary icon that symbolizes prosperity--the Maine lobster--is the one export we rely on to get entire communities through our economically stagnant winters. Like everyone else, Mainers are going on Year Three of The Great Recession. In a rural state as ours, where jobs are increasingly scare, it's scary. The boat price of lobsters historically used to be high enough to allow a lobsterman to work hard six or seven months of the year--and sustain him over the course of the winter 'til it was time to start again in the spring.
Not in the last couple of years has this boat price per lobster been all that viable. I'm told, however, that this past season was "very good" and that "no one had a reason to complain." But does that mean even a good lobstering season will carry a fisherman financially through the
That means the guy who busted his butt all summer and fall to catch lobsters is now prospecting ways to plow driveways for the winter or work part-time in factories or do any kind of odd job he can to pay the bills to get through the winter.
It's not an easy or comfortable way to make a living--never was--but lobstering for so many is like farming--it's generationally taught and generationally ingrained. Once you're brought up in this lifestyle, you stick it out--through thick and thin.
The Maine lobster is one of the most coveted, succulent products that Maine has to offer, from an industry that was conservation-minded before the concept of a "sustainable food movement" even existed. Even Red Lobster, is rolling out a new marketing angle to let their customers feel as though they are smack dab in the middle of Bar Harbor eating real Maine lobster--and not some rock lobster tails farmed in Malaysia. Though there is not one Red Lobster restaurant located in Maine, they do buy and serve Maine lobster, along with other farmed varieties. Still, if you've tasted the real thing, culled from the coldest, cleanest ocean waters in the U.S., you will know why Maine lobster has earned its incontestable reputation.
So this holiday season, I'm making the case for Maine lobster and butter over turkey and giblets. (Go for the Maine crab and Maine shrimp while you're at it.) Some of my picks for the best places to buy lobster locally as well as to export to friends and family as gifts are as follows.
Feel free to comment on The Ghost Trap's Facebook page for places you recommend as well (I'm mostly listing Midcoast Maine). Let's keep this momentum going.
Next post? Best original lobster recipes to use this holiday season.
The next few posts are going to be about Maine's people, about lobstermen and sternmen (and by the way those titles encompass both genders) who have a story to tell. The Ghost Trap isn't about lobsters. It's about the characters who work hard, live hard and inspire us not to complain about an 8-hour day. Summah time is heating up. Let's see who's up on the docket.
Meet cutie pie brothers John and Brendan Ready, owners and operators of Catch A Piece of Maine. Recently featured by US Airways Magazine (which I happened to recently see on my flight home ) the Ready Brothers have come up with a fresh solution to Maine's morass when it comes to marketing the lobster brand. According to the US Airways article, "The Ready brothers graduated with degrees in business from Boston’s Northeastern University and Stonehill College in nearby Easton, Massachusetts. And they both knew they were coming home to Portland. 'You can walk down the street and still see fishing boats, and on the other side, boutiques,' John Ready says. 'It’s the best of both worlds.' "
What they're doing is they're allowing customers to own and receive their very own “share” of the catch direct from their crew of personal lobsterman. This model is very similar to CSAs, which is a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. We're in a global trend where a lot of people want to know local food comes from. We're in a social media culture where we also want to know who butchers it, grows it, farms it, catches it. The Ready Brothers understand this. That's where they bring the "personal" in. For example, they offer a "Premium Partnership, where you actually own a lobster trap in Maine and all of its catch for the entire year to be shipped to any destination of our choice, or a 'Lobster Share' entitling you to a gourmet dinner for four delivered anywhere in the country." Their promise entails: "Most importantly, we are bringing you closer to the dock allowing us to sell direct so that we as lobsterman earn a premium and effectively preserve the traditional working waterfront."
This more than anything, makes them my heroes. We have a lobstering industry that is breaking its back. There are plenty of lobsters to be caught, but Perfect Storm of a double dip recession, encroaching government regulations, an exorbitant rise in bait/fuel and shockingly low (some say price fixed) boat prices are devastating the livelihood of so many of our lobster fishermen. The rising voices of the lobstering industry have been calling for innovation in terms of branding and marketing and these guys have simply taken what is fascinating (the lives and hard work of lobstermen) and turned it into a viable market.
According to their website:
Catch a Piece of Maine was created, with the help of family, friends, and fellow lobstermen, in part as a response to the financial realities of the lobstering industry and as a means to introduce you to our traditions, trade and the sea. Through Catch a Piece of Maine we have toppled the barriers between lobsterman and consumer, allowing those who love to eat the freshest most delicious lobster a chance to get to know the dedicated lobsterman who harvests their dinner. Bringing the consumer closer to the dock allows us to sell direct so that we as lobsterman earn a premium and effectively preserve the traditional working waterfront.
We as lobsterman are all stewards of the sea; always making sure today’s catch is available for tomorrow’s lobsterman. Our industry exemplifies hard work, tradition, heritage, and sustainability. We pride ourselves on our eco-friendly manner of harvesting, producing little to no by-catch and enforcing strict laws to allow the release of all lobsters too small and too large. Lobstering is hard work and capital intensive, requiring boats that cost as much as a house, on top of equipment, traps and fuel. In the past several years the price of bait and fuel has tripled while we’ve watched our working waterfront slowly disappear.
Stay tuned for more stories of people who exemplify the word True Mainer.
A strategist hired by the Governor's Lobster Task Force Committee (did you even know there was such a thing?) has basically broken down 4 types of people when it comes to eating lobster. Which one are you?
Study done by Kristen Bailey, vice president of the Moseley Group.
Story can be found here.
Columns and news about the subculture of Maine lobstering.