One of the most relaxing vacations I ever spent was with my wife on Deer Isle, Maine.
The pace of life crawled delightfully slowly there. We fell into the natural rhythms of “Down East,” rising with the sun at 5:30, and finding ourselves slipping into a crisp, cool slumber by 9:30. And, of course, there was the food. It’s as if summer is so short that the best food—berries, lobster, clams, asparagus, snap peas—peak with added intensity, packed with flavor. Each year, there seems to be at least one cookbook, written by a Maniac, that celebrates this time of year. Here are three standouts.
I am half French-Canadian, and my family often celebrated a Quebecois-inspired New Year’s Eve with lobster that my mom had flow down to Florida. And so it’s lobster that, no matter how much I eat, I just can’t seem to get enough of.
Linda Greenlaw, the unofficial spokesperson for this fine state -- first known for her portrayal in A Perfect Storm as the female fishing boat captain, but now for her memoirs and cookbooks—celebrates those few precious months of outdoor entertaining in The Maine Summers Cookbook (due out in July from Viking Studio). Maine is perhaps the only state that arguably has too much of a good thing, so it seems locals are always doing something to dress up the crustacean. And, perhaps to play off its inherent richness, some folks sweeten it up. Greenlaw here suggests a refreshing salad of lobster, asparagus, and that other Maine summer staple—blueberries. On the traditional side, she offers the good old luncheon standby—the lobster roll, which she makes with celery, lemon, dill, butter and mayonnaise.
“In our opinion, most people just don’t add enough mayo,” opine Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier in Maine Classics, on their version of the lobster roll. The owners of Arrows Restaurant in Ogunquit toss into their cup-and-a-half of mayo tarragon, parsley, chervil, and chives. And like Greenlaw, they offer a signature version of lobster—boiled, dressed in a rum and vanilla sauce and sandwiched between shortcake.
In The Eat Local Cookbook (Down East) Lisa Turner looks to her farm to cook her lobster, offering a bisque with carrots, pepper, celery and garlic, simmered in coconut milk, Thai-style.
And if you hadn’t had enough blueberries by day’s end, there’s always a cobbler with whip cream to keep you warm as the sun goes down.