Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Tale of Two Lobster Rolls

Red's Eats

I know I've said I don't understand why people are willing to stand in line for so long just for a lobster roll.  I've been resolved to avoid at all costs joining the sheep on the corner in Wiscasset.  But who's to stop Damon when he's hungry and we come across Red's on an October night, sans crowd?

Despite resolving to leave for Castine earlier Friday, we didn't get underway until well after five, and we were a mite peckish.  (Sadly, the dog didn't accompany us.)  As we cruised through a quiet Wiscasset, Damon suddenly pulled into a parking spot and cried "No line!"  As in, no line at Red's.  Not only was there no line, but it was the perfect fall Maine evening -- warm, with a full moon shining down over the Sheepscot River.  And on top of that, we had exactly $20 in our pockets -- enough for a lobster roll and a drink, with change to spare.  It was a sign.  Get a lobster roll.

We slipped across US 1 and got in line walked right up to the counter.  It was Red's final weekend for the season, and the the staff seemed cheery -- like they were feeling the way a marathoner feels when mile 26 has been reached, and only 0.2 miles are left.  Their finish line was in sight. 

They were still pumping out some food though.  A small crowd sat behind the shack at the picnic tables, and we sat ourselves down at a table and took a look at our line-free prize.  It was big, with over a lobster's worth of meat.  There seemed to be no dressing at all, and the bun was nicely toasted with butter.  The roll was lettuce-free -- nothing but bun and arthropod.  Damon eats very little meat or saturated fat, so he was happy to gobble his half down, and I ate mine joyfully as well.  There's nothing like the first stop on a trip you've been looking forward to. 

It was a great roll -- large, very fresh, with a lovely contrast between the cold lobster and the warm bun.  It set us back $17; a bit high, but worth it. 

Castine Variety

Even in season, there's not much in Castine.  As the season drew to a close, we watched most of the inns and restaurants in town close their doors for a long winter's rest.  Our dinner Saturday night was the last served at the Pentagoet Inn, and although it was good, they were offering a limited menu as they tried to use up their larder. 

I love Castine, but I can't quite picture living there in winter.  (This from someone who's lived in Woods Hole MA and Beaufort NC, where they pretty much roll up the streets in winter.)  There's not much going on.  Castine Variety though, opens it's doors year round, and offers a mean lobster roll for the hearty few who show up.  I love the fact that the owner is Hawaiian, and wonder what drew her from a tropical island to this remote corner of Penobscot Bay.  Castine Variety itself is amazing; located in an old pharmacy and located right on the main drag, you can look out the windows and watch the happenings at the MMA docks.

Their lobster roll was lovely.  A bit on the small side, not big enough to share; but not as pricey as some ($14).  There was lettuce -- often a turn off for me, but in this case it was a crisp, cool complement to the lobster, which was dressed with mayo.  It was the perfect size for lunch, although I know some will compare it to rolls that are extra large.  I really liked this roll; it was one of the dining highlights of Castine.

As winter rolls our way, and more and more lobster shacks close up shop, I'm thinking my rolls my get fewer and farther between.  That's okay, as snow falls and winds blow, I'll sit by the wood stove dreaming about the rolls I'll eat next year.

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