Archive | July, 2011

Lobster Roll “Research”: Best Lobster Roll in NYC

13 Jul

Trusty and I have some VIPs coming to town next week, and to adequately prepare for their visit we’ve been doing some lobster roll “research.” Our attempt to share the best lobster roll in NYC with our out-of-town gourmets led us to Grand Central Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station and Luke’s Lobster Shack’s new location on the Upper West Side.

First up was Grand Central Oyster Bar’s Lobster Roll Lunch:

Lobster Roll Lunch at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station

For $24 this lunch includes a giant lobster roll with two sides of sweet potato chips and coleslaw. If you’re a fan of the old school lobster roll (this approach tends to favor shredded lobster meat instead of big hunks, the lobster salad pays homage to Helman’s Classic Mayo, and it’s served room temp rather than chilled) than this is the roll for you.  The price is a little steep, but the serving size is generous (Trusty and I attempted to split it and still had left overs) and, what you’re paying for in part is the atmosphere. With it’s red and white checked table cloths, vaulted tile ceiling, dim lighting and no-nonsense wait staff, the dining room feels as though it’s frozen in the 1960’s. But it’s actually filled with the hustle and bustle of Grand Central terminal–you’ll see business men and women indulging in a cocktail at lunch, some tourists taking a break from being on their feet, and, appropriately, some old school New Yorkers who look like they dine there everyday. So, bring your wallet and your appetite and expect to enjoy a creamy, delicious roll as well as some excellent people-watching.

Our next stop was Luke’s Lobster on 426 Amsterdam (between 80th and 81st).

Luke's Lobster Roll

Luke’s serves their rolls Maine style, which is chilled with a swipe of mayo, a sprinkle of lemon butter, and a dash of seasoned salt (though you can order your roll without any of these, if you want). The other major characteristic of the roll is that it features large, meaty hunks of lobster, rather than a shredded lobster salad. Trusty and I agreed we preferred this approach, but I understand that this is a matter of personal preference.  I didn’t really go for the seasoned salt–for me, a good lobster roll is all about the lobster, and when it’s nice and fresh it has its own succulent flavor and sweetness that had to fight against the savory and salty seasoning to come through. However, Luke’s scored big points for chilling their lobster meat–not only does this help lock in the flavor of the meat, but it provides for a great contrast between the chilled lobster and the toasted bun. The other competitive advantage for Luke’s was their price; for $15 their roll was just as filling and much more affordable.

So what’s the verdict on the Best Lobster Roll in New York City? So far Luke’s and Red Hook’s lobster rolls are in the lead, but stay tuned as we complete our “research”–after all, this kind of project requires a thorough approach!

Lobster Rolls, Tacos, Doughnuts, (and Ukeleles!) at the Brooklyn Flea…Oh My!

10 Jul

My Trusty Sidekick and I headed to the Brooklyn Flea Market yesterday to support a new friend, Barry, of Great Plains Handmade Instruments. During the week Barry is an amazing teacher, and on the weekends he makes ukeleles, other instruments, and beautiful odds and ends–often out of salvaged materials like old cigar boxes.


We were  blown away by Barry’s booth and by all the other vendors there–from hand carved furniture to vintage dresses, sunglasses, and shoes to hand painted pottery.  Best of all was the food! We feasted on heaping lobster rolls, succulent braised beef tacos, and intensely flavored doughnuts. Here are the highlights:

Lobster Roll from The Red Hook Lobster Pound

These lobster rolls from The Red Hook Lobster Pound were hands-down my favorite part of the day. Overflowing with giant hunks of fresh, sweet lobster meat that was nestled in a lightly toasted bun and barely dressed with lemon, mayo, and green onion, this is my kind of lobster roll! Just looking at the picture I’m beginning to drool. At $16, it was the most expensive food item we could find at the Flea, but with all that meat we thought it was a great value. I fully admit that I’ll be stalking their Big Red Lobster Food Truck for the rest of the summer.

Braised Beef Taco from Chonchos Tacos

Trusty raved about the well-seasoned, tender braised beef in this taco from the Chonchos Tacos stand, which was $4. Similar to Red Hook’s lobster roll, which made the lobster meat the star,  the braised beef in this taco didn’t have to compete with much–just a traditional presentation of onions and cilantro.  And with all the flavor in the meat itself, all it needed was a little bit of hot sauce!

The talented guys of Porchetta

As soon as we entered the flea, our dog Sam took us straight to Porchetta’s stand where the guys were nice enough to offer her a little sample of their amazing roasted pork. I wish I got a better picture of their delicious sandwich:

Porchetta's slow cooked roasted pork sandwich

The sandwich, $10, features “pork three ways”–fatty belly, crispy skin, lean loin–all roasted with garlic, sage, rosemary and wild fennel pollen.  Meltingly soft and juicy, it was packed with flavor. While the lobster roll may have been the highlight of my day, this was the highlight of Sam’s.  She tried to talk us into setting up permanent camp underneath Porchetta’s table!

To beat the heat, we indulged in some crisp, cold, handmade sodas from Brooklyn Soda Works.  Formed in 2010, Brooklyn Soda Works is a labor of love by a young couple–an artist and a chemist–who make artisanal sodas that feature fresh, unconventional flavors like “Strawberry and Pink Peppercorn,” “Apple Ginger,” and “Dried Lemon, Juniper, and Hops.”

At the Flea we sampled two new flavors, “Raspberry Shiso,” and “Cucumber Sea Salt” :

The Cucumber Sea Salt was really surprising–it was especially thirst-quenching, and full of delicious cucumber flavor. The Raspberry soda, which was mixed with Shiso, a delicious Asian herb that can only be described as part mint-part basil, was also incredible.  The best part of both sodas was that there was hardly any sugar–they were truly refreshing and intensely flavorful. I was won over as a fan, and am eager to try more from Brooklyn Soda Works!

To finish off our trip to the Flea we treated ourselves to doughnuts from Bedford bakery Dough.

Dough's heavenly smelling booth

After our recent visit to the Doughnut Plant, the bar was set high.  But, Dough delivered. We tried a couple of flavors, including Chocolate Earl Gray, Blood Orange, and Hibiscus. My favorite was the Chocolate Earl Gray:

The Chocolate Earl Gray doughnut is INSANE.

The dough was soft and fluffy and the chocolate earl gray glaze was amazingly good–fragrant, flavorful, unusual, and not too sweet. (It got me excited to try this recipe to see how the flavor combination works in other sweet treats.) The Blood Orange flavor was another big hit:

Blood Orange doughnut

The sweet and tangy blood orange glaze was spectacular. Again, not too sweet, but it had a really concentrated blood orange flavor.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip to the Brooklyn Flea! Can’t wait to be back again!


Maybe the Only Good Reason for this Hot and Humid Summer Weather

8 Jul

Dear Readers, I hope you’re staying cool during this particularly hot, muggy stretch of summer!

I wanted to share this photo with you, of a New Yorker in Union Square this morning creating a marriage proposal with beautiful, brightly colored bags of sand.

Sand Art Proposal

It occurred to me that on a windy, or even breezy day, this wouldn’t be possible–the sand would completely blow away.

Lindsey, wherever you are, we hope you say YES. This is may be the only good reason for this hot and humid summer weather!