We made it our goal for the trip to be about the journey not about a specific destination, any particular structure, or any one unique experience: but, we had plenty of each and among those experiences were a few claws, tails, and parts unknown of the Maine lobster. Sure, In Georgia we have restaurants such as Red Lobster that serve both Maine and Florida crustaceans. Nothing, however, matches the tender, sweet local variety of boiled, baked, casseroled, genuine, on the scene, lobster.
Our first culinary stop was Chesapeake Bay on the Eastern Shore of Virginia at a dockside tavern where Lobster Roll was #1 on the menu. During the Vietnam War era, I was stationed close to Cape Charles and I still remember the buckets of clams served with a cold Coors but I never tried the lobster as we were still in the south and lobster is more of a northern delicacy. Lobster roll is a collection of claw meat served on a buttered roll with just a touch of mayo and it was great! But we wanted the real thing – all red and wholly intact waiting for prying fingers!
One of the unforeseen problems we encountered hit us hard at our next stop in Salisbury, Maryland. This was a holiday weekend and many prime restaurants closed early due to COVID and were booked for reservations long before we arrived. Do you want to hear our sad tale? We resorted to dinner at IHOP! No lobster – no clams – no scrod – just a waffle that we could have had any day of the week back in Georgia. Don’t get me wrong; we like IHOP waffles but we were in the heart of clam and oyster country and not a shell in sight! We learned and from that point on we researched in advance and made reservations.
As we approached Maine, we sampled Boston scrod or small cod filets which were as good as I remembered from my last visit to the Boston area fifty years ago. We found a lobster soufflé – close but no gold star. Finally, we arrived at Bar Harbor, Maine, and on the menu were a pair of boiled lobsters. These were not just any old lobster but molted lobsters that were caught just after they dropped their shell casing in a growth cycle.
These are relatively rare as normally a freshly molted lobster hides and is not caught in a trap. We paid dearly for the appetizing experience but nothing is sweeter or more tender and simply not available at points south. Carolyn had read about how to tackle a whole lobster and she never hesitated. Even the waiter commented on how expertly she removed claw meat – he probably does that to all out of towners.
The next night in Vermont, we did it again. My turn for a large stuffed lobster and I learned how to handle it by watching Carolyn the night before. Carolyn tried a lobster casserole and never looked back.
Once out of greater New England and with the roar of Niagara we reverted to more southern fare – baby back ribs were on the menu and on our plate. They were as sweet and spicy as any I have ever had until we arrived in Cincinnati and once again ribs were a target at the famous Montgomery Inn. No one prepares them better. Did I mention that in the Akron, Ohio, area we had to stop for the all-Ohio favorite – Skyline Chili?
As we crossed the Georgia line we started planning for our last vacation meal even though we were back home. Chicken fajitas are our local favorite but we will never forget our lobster journey!