If you are a fan of lobster, the North American East Coast is your prime destination. The American lobster is abundant on the menus of the restaurants along the coast of New England and the Atlantic provinces of Canada. Lobster may be on the menu of many countries and continents, including the crayfish of SA, but size, taste and affordability are unbeatable in Nova Scotia. Considered a poor man’s food, lobster comes in very reasonably priced on the Canadian East Coast. Everything is bigger but not necessarily better in North America, but the lobster is in a different category altogether.
Known as a delicatesse in the old world for a long time, particularly in France, hommard is not so common any more in European waters, and hence the price has gone northwards for decades. To feast on a lobster tail will set you back close to € 100 in a top restaurant or even more (other restaurants won’t even bother to serve you the cracker). In Nova Scotia the lobster is harvested fresh from the sea, sold immediately with elastic bands around the scissors as the seafloor dweller is still alive. Carefully remove the elastics and then drop the lobster into a pot with hot water. They didn’t cry as many believe. I was right next to the pot. I was told to remove the elastic from the small scissor first to avoid damage to my fingers. Advice well received.
The meat was juicy, tasty, rich and rewarding, and cooked in water from the sea which had all the fresh flavours of a cold current in the Northern Atlantic. Cracking the armoured shell takes a bit of practice and a little prick in the finger is not uncommon. Nevertheless, the pain was absolutely worth it and the meal was better than I had ever expected. Don’t worry too much about sauces and side dishes. Simple lemon butter does the trick.
The big challenge remains what to gulp down with the king of crustaceans. Is it a fine white from Alsace, a Chassagne-Montrachet or a Corton-Charlemagne from Burgundy, a Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough Sound or “King-meets-Queen” Champagne of the finest notes? The answer is very simple and sobering. Whilst you sit down wrapped up in an apron to engage in cracking open carapaces and scissors of the defeated animal, you better have a good sip of whatever you have in your glass before, because whilst you are working hard on cracking open an armoured shell you have no time nor inclination to lift your Riedel glass and drink a drop of the finest. Mouth and fingers will be covered in the spoils of the king of crustaceans, and once you are done (in France after a tiny tail, in
Nova Scotia after three complete lobsters all individual legs included) you want to rinse it down with a good drop. As much as you feel like having a shower having wrestled the beast, wipe your moth thoroughly and then enjoy whatever is in abundance. The only advice is to make it a deserving drop as you have just enjoyed one of the glorious meals of our time.