Our time in Stonington is rapidly drawing to a close. After more than four months of working remotely from the salty shores of the Penobscot Bay, we’ll soon be heading back to the Midwest.
When a very pleasant sojourn is ending, it’s important to lock in those memories about things that make a place special. That means large gulps of salty air on morning walks, and feeling foggy mist on your arms and face, and touching rough granite rocks, and hearing a few more locals talk with those unique Maine accents. And of course it means a lobster roll, too, because lobster is one of the flavors of Maine.
Fortunately, the Harbor Cafe in Stonington makes an exceptional lobster roll: a split-top bun, toasted and lightly buttered, loaded with fresh lobster in a light sauce. You get heaping amounts of lobster with every crunchy bite. We headed there for one last lobster roll yesterday, and got something to savor.
Sometimes food immediately orients you to time and place. A steaming hot dog slathered with Stadium Mustard says you’re at the ballpark. Salt water taffy tells me I’m at the Jersey shore. And a lobster roll, French fries, and a Diet Coke from The Fishnet in Blue Hill scream “Maine”!
If you come to Maine, you are obligated by custom, and possibly state law, to consume at least one lobster roll. If you are a visitor with any taste and decency, you’ll have at least one a day until your visit ends.
What makes a good lobster roll? Well, lobster, of course. Because you’re in Maine, the lobster meat must be absolutely fresh and just plucked out of the shell, and claws, and tail. And not little shards of lobster, either. I’m talking large, hulking chunks of dripping sea-scented goodness.
I like a lobster roll that doesn’t go overboard on the mayonnaise, too. Mayo is mayo. You need a little to bind the concoction together, but no rational person is going to prefer the taste of mayo to the succulence of lobster. Add some arugula and put it in a freshly baked slit-top bun with a very generous portion of lobster meat spilling out of the top, and voila! You’ve got your classic lobster roll.
Here on Peaks Island you can get a lobster roll prepared in precise conformity with these specifications just about anywhere that serves food. They rock, and I’m thinking I might have one for breakfast.