Monday Miam-Miam: Labor Day Lobstah

I never really ate lobster in France. I do remember my mother mentioning Homard (French for lobster) Thermidor (a traditional fancy sauce). I was a kid but I heard expensive and detected a trace of envy in her voice. Homard sounded like caviar. Food my parents couldn’t afford.

When I lived in Paris I adored shellfish platters made of an assortment of clams, oysters, tiny briny shrimps, scallops, periwinkle, mussels, prawns, langoustine, and lobster claws served on a bed of ice.

But this is in 1996 over my first trip to Maine that I discovered real lobster. Fished there, prepared there, and eaten there. Since then I’ve never ever (even once) ate lobster away from Maine.

Although lobster is served everywhere throughout Vacationland, this is more often in Brunswick that my family eats the Maine signature food.

Brunswick is home to Bowdoin College, one of the three renowned liberal arts colleges of Maine (with Colby in Waterville and Bates in Lewiston). Only eight miles from Bath and twenty-five from Portland, Brunswick manages to feel urban while being small. No doubt due to the population of students coming from New England, the whole country, and even from abroad.

Over the years, we’ve witnessed the transformation of Brunswick, more noticeably when the Naval base closed definitely in 2011 to become a civilian airport. Restaurants and cafés opened along Maine Street and also steps away.

The most unique being by far Tao Yuan. My family bumped accidently into this restaurant upon its grand opening in 2012. I was so impressed that I wrote a blog post about our experience when the place was only called Tao.

Just north of Brunswick, you enter the small town of Topsham and leave the Cumberland County for the Sagadahoc County. In Topsham you cannot miss the gorgeous Androscoggin Pedestrian Swinging Bridge.

The town is also known for its historic mill building located on the banks of the Androscoggin River. The building used to be the Pejepscot Paper Company quarters. Built in 1868, it is the oldest surviving paper mill in the state. The mill is part of the National Register of Historic Places and is now a mixed-use commercial property with many tenants, including the brewery Seadog.

But my family goes to Seadog to eat Lobstah with a View.

Seadog can host lots of people inside and outside on its covered patio that overlooks the bridge over the Androscoggin River. But it’s almost impossible to find a table during the summer. Not really a problem for me as I love the place best when it’s rainy and the river roars down below my feet.

Lobster roll, fries and cole slaw: a Maine staple

But when we really crave real lobster we go to Hallowell Seafood and Produce Wine and Cheese Shop, located on Water Street in the small town of Hallowell that sits along the Kennebec River.

Hallowell Public Library

Family owned and run it’s an authentic Maine small store where you’ll find the freshest fish and seafood but also seasonal fruit and veggies from the farm, and unique grocery items that don’t make their way to the neighboring Hannaford.

The Seafood and Produce Wine and Cheese Shop in the fall

The two brothers behind the counter know their turf and serve everyone with a smile, humor, and almost always with a little bit more than you’ll pay for.

They will cook the lobsters while you wait or take a short stroll along Water Street.

Boiled for you

Lobstah at home

Maine or the Way Life Should Be. The lobstah must have a different opinion, though.

Based on the large number of authors who call Maine home, food for the soul abounds there.

In Brunswick, I like to visit Gulf of Maine Books. The shop is located on Maine Street, feet away from Bowdoin College. The alternative bookshop, an old timer in town, offers children’s books and a wide selection of books for adults in all genres. No website but the store holds notable books.

In Hallowell, I love spending time at Merrill’s Bookshop. The store carries rare, used, and scholarly books at the top of a narrow set of stairs inside a brick building facing the Kennebec River.

This is an old blog post that I wrote in 2012 about the experience to shop there and also about books versus tablets.

 

 

Wherever you are today, whatever you eat, and whatever you read I wish you a safe, restful Labor Day!

Comments

  1. Lobster in Maine is something one has to experience first hand to understand. Unlike you, I will eat lobster almost anywhere, but it doesn’t compare well to the meals I’ve had in Maine. I’m off to read your earlier posts. I think that’s before we “met” – Happy Labor Day!

    • I’m partial to local food, so for example now that my daughter lives in Maryland I eat crab cakes there 🙂
      Lobster is a real Maine treat.
      Yes, these are old posts when I mostly wrote for me 🙂

  2. I’ve never eaten lobster but I’m sure I’d like it, since I love shellfish – maybe I should wait until one day I get to Maine!

    • If you love shellfish you should enjoy lobster. And yes, Maine is the place to eat lobster. New England at large is a great region for lobster and all along the east coast you’ll find restaurants and seafood shops offering lobster. But most of the lobster you eat in the US comes from Maine. The lobster traps and their colorful buoys are all over the coast and the fishing business is huge there. With some fierce territorial competition too!

  3. There was a tiny town along the ocean where we always went for lobster. The lobster traps were piled higher than the roof of the restaurant. I don’t remember its name or the town anymore, but the lobster came straight out of the water and it was inexpensive back then. And there was so MUCH of it. Nothing else like it.

    • There are still places like that in Maine. Once we stayed in Mount Desert Island and could buy our lobster right out of the boat. There was a small shack where you could have it boiled for you. So fresh and good. Our kids were little. No wonder they became fans.
      I thought of you earlier this summer since we drove to Quebec City and passed through Jackson, Maine. I think that you blogged about this area where you stayed in the fall once, no?

  4. Not far from Ellsworth, but it’s too small for the map!

  5. Southeast Harbor.

  6. Looks delish, Evelyne. We had our share of fresh lobster when we went cycling and camping in Nova Scotia.

  7. Always interesting. André Bouchard : lemondetouristiquesite.wordpress.com

  8. I remember my first roll and being surprised that the roll seemed like a glorified hot dog bun. I do like lobster but I feel so sorry for them when I see them in a tank. I just want to let them be free.

    • I prefer a whole lobster to a lobster bun and I agree about the lobster tank, Claire. To be honest I prefer buying lobster away from a supermarket. The place I mention in my post doesn’t have these small tanks but very deep and large and they only sell reasonably. The best way is at the harbor, so you just pick one and either bring it home where you’ll prepare it or ask for them to do it for you. Which we do.
      Lobsters contribute to Maine’s economy as nuts and produce do to California. Pushed to the limits it comes with issues. Fishing is regulated in Maine. So the size and number of lobsters are too.
      Thank you for stopping by, Claire. See you on your blog.

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