Over a year since my last post, a recent trip to Maine for my friend Tiffany’s wedding inspired me to write about the source of a great East Coast debate – the lobster roll.
Lobster roll at Red’s Eats
When J and I drove the Maine coast for our honeymoon three years ago, we ate our fair share of these treats – and learned a bit about the passionate perspectives behind a seemingly simple dish. As described in the New York Times, lobster lovers are divided as to how the meat should be dressed…Mayo? Butter? A bit of salt and pepper? Nothing at all?
On this trip, we made a stop at the famous Red’s Eats, stood patiently in line, and were rewarded with a toasty bun full of unadorned lobster. Red’s provides both drawn butter and mayo on the side, but we found that just a touch of butter was enough so as not to overpower the richness and flavor of the star of the show. Indeed, some purists argue that if the meat is fresh enough, you shouldn’t need much else to accompany it. The roll at Red’s certainly proved this point, though I think a small amount of mayo can be tasty if you’re in the mood.
The line at Red’s – worth the wait!
What are YOUR thoughts on the lobster roll debate? Or are you not a lobster fan at all and prefer another summer sandwich? Post a comment below!
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Posted in Chicago, Restaurants, tagged bread, Chicago, dining, food, Gaztro-wagon, lobster, restaurant, sandwich, street food, torta, Xoco on July 23, 2010|
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A big trend right now is taking simple food and elevating it to gourmet status (witness the rise of the designer hamburger, cupcake, etc.). Beyond individual food items, you can see this happening in the recent obsession with upscale street food of all kinds. To see what all the fuss is about, I checked out a couple of hot spots…
When my friend Mara visited town recently, we hit up Gaztro-Wagon, a new sandwich shop on the north side. The proprietor would like to peddle his wares on the street via a food truck, but Chicago currently doesn’t allow them. While he’s waiting to see if his request to change the rules goes through, he’s holed up in a tiny storefront in Edgewater (be warned: this place is literally a hot spot – meaning, no A/C).
Photo by the Chicago Tribune
The chalkboard offered quite a few options, but Mara and I both ordered the lobster roll, which came piled high with plump bits of lobster tucked into warm naan (all the sandwiches here are actually “naan-wiches”). It had a bit too much mayo for my taste, but I may have been spoiled by the lobster rolls I had on my honeymoon in Maine, where the meat was so good there was really no need for dressing. But make no mistake, this was a tasty roll – I loved the thin slice of pickle which layered in an unexpected flavor. With some plantain chips on the side, I was a happy camper. Since I keep reading about the pork shoulder and wild boar belly, I might have to go back soon with husband in tow…
Next up, I finally visited Xoco, the newest addition to the Rick Bayless empire of Mexican dining. I had been meaning to go for months, and my dad and I actually attempted it once but gave up due to the infamous line to get in. This time, my friend Meryl and I braved the wait time and were rewarded with two delicious tortas. Funnily enough, just as you expect bread and get naan at Gaztro-Wagon, here you expect tortillas and get…bread! But not just any bread – picture the perfect baguette, crusty on the outside with a chewy, soft interior. We shared a garlicky mushroom sandwich with goat cheese, arugula, black beans and salsa, and the daily special which paired mixed greens with ricotta. Both were the perfect example of how great ingredients can up the ante of a simple meal. We also contentedly consumed a side of flawless guac and chips and finished up with cinnamon sugar-studded churros dipped in soft serve ice cream. Though the service was lacking (between ordering at the counter and the many runners responsible for bringing the food out, it seems some things get lost in the fast pace), I would love to return in winter for a cup of the famous hot chocolate…and more tortas.
Photo by Serious Eats
Meals like this are a great reminder that food doesn’t have to be unaffordable or served in fancy surroundings to be gourmet!
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