Lobster vs. Crab: Which is the Ultimate Roll?

by Anne Maxfield on August 26, 2013

Accidental Locavore Fried ClamsThere are mysteries about Manhattan that puzzle the Accidental Locavore and several of them have to do with seafood. Why, for example, in a city where there is cuisine from almost every country in the world, is it almost impossible to find an acceptable fried clam? Was it in the spirit of PT Barnum (“a sucker born every minute”) that someone decided that clam strips – the most inedible part of the clam – would be an acceptable fried food? As any New Englander (or anyone with taste buds) would tell you, the belly is the best part of a clam. Which is why the fried clams you get anywhere north of New York are far superior to anything found in the Big Apple.

Accidental Locavore Lobster Roll and FriesThe other mystery concerns one of the trendy foods of the moment – lobster rolls. A lobster roll is a fine thing to do with a lobster, if you, like my husband, are not inclined to mess with a whole lobster (however, there’s something really satisfying about working through a lobster and plopping it in melted butter). Lobster rolls certainly beat other permutations like lobster mac and cheese or lobster chop suey (can lobster macaroons be far behind?). However, it’s something that shouldn’t be messed with and adding caviar or vanilla is just plain wrong – ditto serving it in anything other than a buttered and toasted spilt-top hot dog roll.

Accidental Locavore Crabmeat RollWhat about its cousin, the crabmeat roll? Something never seen on a New York menu (when I did a Google search for it, only sushi came up). Possibly, it’s a labor thing – it’s a lot easier to break up a lobster (claws, tail, possibly a little body meat) and it comes in a bigger package. Crabs, especially the Maine varieties, are a lot smaller and harder to “pick.” But what you’re left with – the fine strands of crabmeat, tossed with just enough mayonnaise to hold it together, on a hamburger roll, lightly toasted on a grill until it just loses its chill – is about as good as a sandwich can get. Add some hot fries, a cold iced tea, a view of the ocean and you have my idea of the perfect summer lunch.






Accidental Locavore: Yearning for Lobster

by Anne Maxfield on August 23, 2012

Accidental Locavore Lobster and Butter

The Accidental Locavore has had lobster on the brain recently. Must be that I keep hearing how inexpensive it’s been this summer. Might also be that I’m feeling a bit deprived as I didn’t eat much/enough of it when I was in Maine last month. Stupidly, the first morning, I had a bite from my husband’s lobster omelet and as I took the bite, I knew the lobster wasn’t good, but I ate it anyway. Luckily, all it did was take my appetite away for a couple of days and passing on a lobster dinner might not seem like a big event to you but…

Two nights later, I was ready for a couple of “twin” (identical, fraternal?) lobsters. Or maybe just one big one. We were off to Waterman’s Beach, the local lobster joint. It’s on a lovely stretch of beach, islands on the horizon and a pier, just so you know how local the lobsters are. Sandy and her sister run the place. The deal, for those in the know, is to bring your own starters and wine and let Sandy and her crew take care of the main course and desserts. For me, for dinner, it’s always lobsters. For whoever else is with us, there’s a choice of lobsters, steamed clams, lobster and crabmeat rolls, all simply prepared, with the freshest local seafood, and delicious!

Accidental Locavore Lobster RollThe problem (for me anyway, chime in if you disagree) with summer lobsters is that most of them are soft-shelled, otherwise known as shedders. While they’re easier to eat because you can just rip them open without tools, they’re really deceptive. With a hard-shelled lobster, you crack it open (crackers, rocks or a hammer needed) and the meat is tightly packed in (which I think gives it a better texture, however there is absolutely no science behind that). Shedders are different, it’s always a guess as to how much meat is actually there. Sandy told me that for a one pound shedder, there are only 3.5 ounces of meat, barely a snack and hardly enough to call dinner, right?

Accidental Locavore Lobsters AfterIf you think you’re going to have room afterwards, there are lots of homemade pies, blueberry of course, but lots of other great flavors. You might want to order them with your lobster as they usually sell out quickly. Or, as the Locavore has found in the past, a small lobster also makes a wonderful dessert!





Fall in Maine II: the Accidental Locavore Eats Local

by Anne Maxfield on October 3, 2011

Accidental Locavore Sunset in Maine

Do you think that the ratio of good restaurants to bad is consistent throughout the world? The Accidental Locavore was pondering this idea the other day. For every great restaurant in Paris is there a number of equally crummy ones? Or do certain chefs start to create order out of chaos? Case in point: Rockland, Maine (for that matter the entire coast of Maine). Once kind of a dumpy town, certainly overshadowed by its glitzier sister-town, Camden (full of former CIA operatives), it’s now become a cool place to be and certainly a much easier place to stumble upon interesting restaurants. Granted, there are certainly a fair amount of fast food and seafood joints serving fish both boiled and fried, however there are more and more really good alternatives for meals at any time of day.

Besides our “old standbys” to quote my mother, we’ve added some new standbys to the roster. This of course, is going to mean that we’ll have to spend more time in Maine, or eat a lot more, or cut back on some of the favorites, none of which is a viable alternative. And the Locavore just spent four days there without enjoying a morsel of lobster or crabmeat! How did that happen?

Well, we did hit Café Miranda even though Kerry was busy catering the Camden Film Festival (who knew?) and he’ll be happy to know his associates fed us well. A dinner at Lily Bistro for my father’s birthday had us dining on locally foraged mushrooms with gnocchi and French onion soup (for comparison, of course). But where did we end up almost every morning? Home Kitchen Café.

Accidental Locavore UtensilYou probably don’t know that the Accidental Locavore is not a big fan of breakfast. It has to do with a general non-interest in eggs, especially runny ones, which as everyone knows is a major component of breakfast. Take away eggs and what’s left? However, Home Kitchen Cafe has a large menu, with a lot of well-disguised (and well-prepared) eggs, a willingness to cook a poached egg until it bounces (sorry, but that’s just the way it has to be), homemade bread and a hollandaise sauce that will make you a breakfast/brunch believer again!

So that’s how a group of chefs has changed the ratio in a town like Rockland, with the added bonus that they’re all working with local famers and purveyors to keep it all local and fresh. Has it changed in your town?



Accidental Locavore 50 MPH Tomatoes

At some point during the summer, the Accidental Locavore and Frank drive up to Maine to visit the parents and help deplete the lobster population. Along the way, there’s usually a stop or two for fried clams, crab-meat rolls and Frank’s favorite restaurant this side of the Cote d’Azure, Cafe Miranda. Miranda is a unique place to eat for many reasons, probably mostly because of its owner and chef, Kerry Alteiro whose stamp is on everything and without “that crazy bastard” the restaurant, while still good, loses something in translation.

What also makes Cafe Miranda unique is an extensive menu, consisting of about 50 small dishes (and I use the term small, only to distinguish what might be considered an appetizer from a main course) and the same number of entrees. If that’s not enough, there’s a separate hamburger menu, with another dozen or so burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches. And each menu item has multiple components. Even an ear of corn is dressed with cheese, cilantro and finished with a blow torch.

Accidental Locavore View From the BarThe centerpiece of the restaurant is a wood burning oven in which almost everything is cooked. If you’re cool enough to score a seat at the bar, you get to watch Kerry and his crew in their frenetic ballet, juggling dishes in and out of the oven, prepping plates, adding sauces, garnishing and, if he thinks you’re not paying enough attention, squirting a stream of oil over his shoulder and landing it exactly in the middle of the bowl of greens he’s dressing.

But what if you’re just there to eat and don’t have a view of the show? How can anyone possibly have a menu with so much on it and not have a bunch of so-so food? And in Maine, of all places, not have lobster featured front and center? Well he does, the food is great and you won’t hardly miss the lobster (although it has been slowly making its presence felt on the menu).

For all the meals the Accidental Locavore and family have had there (and Frank could eat there every night), there’s never been a dud. Usually it’s quite the opposite. From the aforementioned torched corn (makes it taste like popcorn) to his riff on kimchi (some of the best you’ll ever taste) to a steak perfectly cooked in the fire and topped with blue cheese, this is just good solid cooking…only better! Even something as mundane as nachos gets deconstructed: cheese, chiles and peppers popped into the oven, chips on the side (they kept catching on fire in the oven), with homemade salsa and made into something wonderful, a “fat delivery system at it’s best. A recent special was monkfish chowder with corn and potato “croutons” (yes, they do look like fries, don’t they?)…as good as it looks! Accidental Locavore Monkfish Chowder

If there’s a downside, it’s that portions are big, huge in some cases, and the selection can be daunting…everything just sounds so intriguing. Sitting at the bar just makes it worse because you get to see all the dishes being made and they all look delicious. What it takes to prep for service…no never mind…what it takes to remember all the dishes and what goes into them, is one amazing feat! And for years Kerry has sourced his ingredients locally as much as he can.

Cafe Miranda is a restaurant that’s a little off the beaten track, for its cuisine as well as the location, that should be consistently on everyone’s list of best Maine restaurants. It’s certainly on ours! If you’re in Rockland for the annual Maine Lobster Festival make sure to check it out.Accidental Locavore Cafe Miranda Exterior



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