Monday, December 9, 2013
By Anne Mahle
One of the highlights of the week for many of the passengers on our windjammer is our traditional Maine lobster bake – a feature of all our trips. It's an all-you-can-eat feast with all the fixin's. Seven lobsters eaten by one person in one sitting is our record, although I wouldn't recommend it; she seemed pretty uncomfortable afterward.
After anchoring near an undisturbed island in the early afternoon, the yawl boat (our launch and tugboat) ferries us ashore and we hop across granite rocks to the beach. Everyone wanders off in different directions – exploring inland, walking the shore, swimming – some even help set up for dinner. The crew has already rowed ashore and brought everything we need to the island, and we all work to put the meal together for our guests.
A fire is lit, corn is shucked, and various goodies are put out to tide us over until the lobster is ready. Once the fire is really going, the lobster pot – a huge galvanized tub – is filled with 2 to 3 inches of salt water and set on the fire to boil. While we wait for the water to come to a boil, several armloads of seaweed are gathered (being careful to leave some seaweed at each spot so that more can grow back in its place).
Once the water is boiling we layer the lobsters, corn, mussels, and clams in the pot, cover it with a "lid" of seaweed, wait for it to come to a boil, and rotate the pot (for even cooking on the fire). When the water comes to second boil, we'll pull some of the seaweed aside and check to see that the lobsters are red all over. When the lobsters are done, the tub is carried away from the fire, the seaweed is arranged on a flat rock, and everything is placed on the seaweed bed – ready to eat!
Once everyone has had their fill of lobster, the watermelon is sliced and the makings for s'mores are laid out. There's always a lively discussion over how to make the best s'more, and the proper way to roast a marshmallow (recipe below, of course).
While we are on an island for our lobster bake we operate under a Leave No Trace policy. Whatever we take onto the island, we take off. Often we leave with more than we came with, as picking up litter while exploring an island is our contribution to leaving an island better than we found it. Our fires are built below the high tide line in a fire pan to protect the beach rocks from any scarring or cracking; five minutes after we've left an island, you can't tell we've been there.
While a beach is admittedly very nice scenery for this meal, it's not absolutely necessary. Your backyard could do very nicely. Should you choose to find a beach to celebrate your lobsters, make sure that you have permission to be there and a fire permit if you need one. This could actually be an eventful dinner for your guests from out of state who are clamoring for their not only first taste of lobster, but their third and fourth. Should you choose something simpler, a light recipe for a lobster salad is included as well.
Not only is this meal for the enjoyment of your guests, know that every time you purchase lobster you are supporting local families and businesses who help our state thrive.
LOBSTER BAKE IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD
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