Is there anything more solidly summer than a clean white plate bursting with steamed lobster, corn soaked in butter, roasted potatoes scattered with chives, and a big heap of toothsome, garlicky greens? I dare you to disagree.
It’s lobster season here in Quebec, and the specimens are so handsome right now. I’ll always be a devoted California girl — our ocean is better, the punk was angrier, the fruits are riper — but I’ll willingly concede to Team East Coast when they brag about their superlative Atlantic lobster.
I like to work for my food — like shucking oysters, for example — but when it comes to ripe, bulging lobster, I love the blatant, almost obscene decadence of a big, fat lobster claw dangling off my plate. I realized, you’re a claw person or you’re not. You either like to work for your meat (that’d be the tiny legs and body posse, obsessively picking for half a teaspoon of meat), or you couldn’t care less (that’s be Team Big Claw, chomping down, no bib required). Claw meat is more tender and velvety than the tail, which, while more plentiful, is tougher and stringier. But at the end of the day, it’s still lobster. I’ll eat it all, no questions asked.
To supplement our boiled lobster feast, I sauteed a heaping pile of fresh pea shoots (some of the tendrils still bore baby pods!) Chinese style — with lots of olive oil, chopped garlic, and salt. I also served our first corn of the season, shaved off the cob and fried briefly in foaming butter, lemon juice, and tons of fresh chives and dill. White burgundy is an obvious pairing with lobster, but we opted for a bottle sourced closer to our home: one my favorite Canadian producers, Norman Hardie, and his exquisite county chardonnay, unfiltered and full of beaming life.
Adam and I often prepare very traditionally French meals (it was tempting to pile the fresh lobster meat into a bubbling gratin or cover it with a thick, creamy sauce), but that evening, I was craving the steamed lobster of my childhood, the kind I ate with a baked potato and a cob of corn. My dad’s mother owned a lobster shack, and I used to spend every summer in Maine, eating blueberries and shellfish. There were never any fussy sauces or preparation — it was life at its most vital and streamlined, just you, the lobster, a little butter, a pinch of salt, and the ocean, roaring in your ears.