Food, Lifestyle

Delicious lobster tales with friends

COURTESY PHOTO
Pictured is lobster with fettuccine marinara. See the recipe below.

By ROSALIE HARRINGTON

When my son Georgie was about 9 we bought him a little boat called a Puffin. Many an early summer Saturday morning he would take out the small craft to fish for our breakfast. A few hours later my little guy would show up at the kitchen door with his catch — and a big smile.

They were delicate little fish, probably cod, and when cleaned and dipped in a little flour they were perfect for a quick saute with a side of scrambled eggs. Several times during the day he would look for reassurance. “How’d you like my catch, Mom?” He loved the compliments.

By the end of that summer he was ready for his next boating/fishing adventure, hinting that for his 10th birthday he would like some lobster traps. We purchased four traps from a lobsterman in Gloucester. Georgie was a happy camper, or should I say, a happy lobsterman.

From the time he was a little guy he loved anything nautical. He chose a wallpaper for his room that depicted the famous Charles W. Morgan whaling ship. He loved going to Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, where he could see the actual ship. I made him curtains out of nylon fabric that I got from sailmaker Norm Cressy (who, coincidentally, occupied the third floor of the building that one day would house Rosalie’s). When the wind came off the ocean and blew the curtains, Georgie was reminded of sails. He really loved his space.

After he saved some money from his lobstering business he wanted a rug for his room. Although it wasn’t nautical, it was hand-woven with the blues of the ocean. Georgie loves to cook and also really enjoys design and decorating, just like his mother. He still has the yellow statue of the Gloucester fisherman I bought him for his 10th birthday.

Being near the ocean made the crustacean a favorite item for diners. A popular dish at my restaurant was a lobster crepe that a craftsman named Georgio Tonelli taught me to make when he was helping me put the place together.  He was a real old-school artist who came from the Italian Riviera to find work repairing and creating stained glass windows in churches. Among a myriad of other skills, he was an excellent cook and had worked in several restaurants on the Italian seacoast. The crepe was not typical, in that it was not rolled and filled. The pieces of lobster were part of the batter, made in a crepe pan, not unlike a delicate pancake. Customers loved them and I haven’t seen them on any menu since.

Lobster fra di avolo was another favorite; a little heat, tomato and a lot of cognac. Of course, Marblehead had many lobstermen who could supply the freshest catch, right off their boats. We are lucky living on the North Shore to have many sources of good seafood.

Recently, I discovered a mostly wholesale distributor in Beverly, right on the water, Lynch Lobster. When I stopped there the other day, one of the owners, Buddy, and I had a nice chat about business and food. I bought a couple of lobsters and brought them home and boiled them right away.

We had friends over for dinner Saturday night and our friend Bruce pulled out of the shells all of the meat, which we simmered in some fresh marinara sauce with a few capers and olives before serving it over fettuccine, with a small side scoop of pesto to brighten the dish. It was luscious!

Lobsters should be cooked soon after you buy them. If you cannot prepare them right away, place them on a tray with a dish towel or paper bag rung out in cold water and scatter some ice chips over the top and refrigerate. Avoid water dripping on the heads, as they can drown in even a small amount of water. If lobsters are placed in a bag when purchasing, make sure the bag is open at the top so they can breathe.

To boil the lobster, plunge it into fast-boiling salted water, head first, then allow five minutes for the first pound, after the water comes to a boil, and then three minutes for each additional pound. Allow to cool slightly before removing the meat. Twist off the claws and then bend the tail till it cracks and push the meat out with a fork. Don’t forget the tomalley and the roe.

Grilling lobster is a delicious treatment, but it takes some effort. Put the lobster on its back and, with a sharp heavy knife, split it in half lengthwise, remove the sac, leave the tomalley and the roe and crack the claws. Brush the lobster with olive oil or butter and grill it for 10 to 12 minutes, about four inches from the heat, basting occasionally with melted butter or oil. Allow it to rest before removing the meat if you want to prepare a pizza topping or sauce. Or just tie a dish cloth around your neck and dig right in.

As for those who dwell on the injustice of killing the poor crustaceans, enjoying lobster at home is a delight. And I love when the garden hose is turned on so I can give myself a quick cleanup.

At lunch Friday at Superfine in Manchester-by-the-Sea, I mentioned to my friend Sally that I was making an easy version of lobster with fettuccine for dinner. She had that “Ooh that sounds sooo good” look in her eyes, so I invited Bruce and her to join us. Bruce does the cooking in their relationship and Sally does the conversation, so Bruce and I were in the kitchen and Todd and Sally caught up in the living room.

Sally reminisced about growing up in Beverly and when  she would lunch with her mother at the pizzeria that is now Superfine.

Bruce and I prepared dinner, and our fettuccine marinara with lobster was a big hit, as was the Caesar salad and the blueberry crostata with vanilla ice cream for dessert.

It was a super fine night at our house with good friends.


Lobster with Fettuccine Marinara

— Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil with a sprig each of thyme and a bay leaf and a few flat leaf parsley stems.

— Cook the lobster according to directions, as noted above.

— Remove the meat and cut into bite-size pieces. Scoop out the roe and tomalley to add to the sauce.  

— In the meantime, grind 2 pints of grape tomatoes in a food processor.  

— Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan and sweat 3 cloves of garlic for a few minutes; do not brown.

— Add the tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of salt, a stem of thyme and rosemary and a few red pepper flakes, for heat.

— Simmer the sauce for 30 minutes over medium-low heat.

— Add the tomalley and the roe to the cut-up lobster and stir in sauce, just enough to heat the meat. Remember, you have already cooked the lobster.

— Cook the fettuccine and toss on a platter with 2 tablespoons of butter. Spoon the sauce with lobster over it. Pass the Parmesan.

— For variety, you could smash up a few anchovies or several Nicoise olives and add to the sauce.  

We served the Caesar after the pasta. It is more relaxing than trying to time the cooking of the pasta before the meal.

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