Lobster Roll

It’s that time of year – summer, barbeque, beach and seafood season – and with that comes a change in how we dress, where we go and, of course, what we eat. One of the things popping up on menus these days is Lobster Roll and I had my first of the season at, of all places, a Nathan’s counter at the food court at The Livingston Mall in Livingston, New Jersey. And, it wasn’t half bad. In fact, it was surprisingly good.

You’re probably wondering why anyone in their right mind, and a self-proclaimed foodie at that, would even dare to get something as delicate as a Lobster Roll at a fast food counter in a mall’s food court. Normally when I’m there, after a trip to the attached Barnes and Noble or from perusing seasonal sales with my wife, I’d grab a couple thighs and a side of Rice and Beans from Popeye’s or a two item rice combo meal from Master Wok. This time, however, those items didn’t appeal to me and neither did anything else that’s there – Burger King, Sakura, the Italian joint, Subway. The Bubble Tea counter didn’t call to me either and I’m always up for boba.

Then, in the same corner and with the same employees as Nathan’s, I saw Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips. Having grown up in Hong Kong during the 1970s and 1980s, I’m very much an Anglophile. So, you can imagine my excitement at the thought of Fish and Chips. (Doing a little research writing this post, I discovered that Arthur Treacher’s is a Florida-based franchise and not an English one.) When I got to the counter, I checked out the menus. Treacher’s had, naturally, Fish and Chips. There were also Clam Strips, Fish Sandwich, Clam Strips Sandwich and Lobster Roll, among the other items. The Nathan’s menu had a Lobster Salad Sandwich with bacon. I love a good Lobster Roll but I’ve had some great ones that I’ve really enjoyed – Duryea’s in Montauk, St. James Gate in Maplewood, Stony’s in South Orange – so I opted for the Nathan’s version with bacon and I’m glad I did.

It’s likely the lobster salad used for the sandwich I ate is the same stuff that’s used for the Arthur Treacher’s offering and chances are it’s shipped in daily, probably from a mass produced food plant. Regardless, the sandwich was super tasty. Lobster is a delicate meat. I’ve grilled, boiled and steamed lobsters myself and, on occasion, I’ve kept them cooking just a tad too long. And that can turn the lobster from something that should melt in your mouth into something a little more than rubbery. Well, I am glad to report that the lobster I ate wasn’t rubbery at all. The salad was light on the mayo and seasoned with what I think was some kind of dill dressing but perfectly balanced so I could still taste the lobster and enjoy its texture. The bacon added a nice touch of saltiness and it wasn’t grilled too crunchy so that it crumbled at the slightest touch. There was a touch of smokiness to the bacon that blended well with the sweetness of the lobster and the dressing’s mild tang. Finally, there’s the roll. Many sandwiches live or die by the bread they’re made with. Well, this sandwich does more than live. Most Lobster Rolls I’ve had are served on a hot dog bun. The Nathan’s sandwich was served on a round roll, lightly toasted, but not to the point where it scratches the roof of your mouth or loses the softness inside the crust. It completed the sandwich nicely, a compliment to the bacon’s mild fire and the lobster’s subtle sweetness.

So, as Memorial Day leads into July Fourth into Labour Day, I’m sure I’ll have my fill of Lobster Rolls, Steamers, battered cod, you name. I may even report on each one, coming up with my top five list or something like that. But, the season’s only just begun and it’s fair to say I’m off to a good start. If you’re a lobster fan, I suggest you give the Nathan’s version a try. I give it, until I come up with my own rating system, two thumbs up.

By the way, anyone with ideas for a rating system I can use, please don’t hesitate to shoot me a message via the Contact Panlasa page. Thanks for stopping by.

Past Food Blogs

Hi everyone!

As I stated in my first post yesterday, I’ve written about food and food topics in my other blog Contemplations. Well, you’re here at Panlasa to read posts about food and not to fish at other sites for them. So, I’ve done the fishing for you. Below are the links from Contemplations of those food and food-related blog posts. Click on the title to get to them.


A Rutgers Tradition: about the ‘grease trucks’ at Rutgers University.

Special Chinese Chicken: about my son’s experience at having dim sum.

Dampa: about my and my son’s experience at a fresh food market/restaurant in The Philippines

Simple Pleasures: about fulfilling food cravings

Topsilog: about making a Filipino breakfast on a snow day.

Home Cook

A few weeks ago, in another blog, I talked about some words that we no longer use; words that were, in their heyday, known and used by just about anyone who paid any modicum of attention to world events. In that post (click here to read that blog), I discuss words like ‘glasnost’ and ‘politburo.’

In this post, the first of hopefully many about food and food-related topics, I want to discuss another term: home cook. I’m sure it’s been in vogue for a few years now but I first came across it when I was watching The Taste, a reality food contest show in which the judges taste what the contestants prepare without knowing who made it. The judges vote on whether the food is good or not. If it’s good, the chef stays. If it’s not, the chef goes and, because it’s a blind taste test, a judge could vote off one of his or her own team members.

Among the contestants were various members of the professional culinary community. There were, also, many who were not and those individuals were the ones called ‘home cooks.’ I suppose with pros competing – who work and are called sous chefs, chefs, fulltime caterers, sommeliers – the non-professionals had to be called something more catchy than ‘someone who cooks from home and isn’t a professional or formally trained chef.’ That – pun intended – is simply a mouthful. When I was a teenager, the popular term (in food circles) was ‘foodie.’ That term is still used today but I remember, sometime in the mid 1980s, when visiting family and friends in Singapore used the term and had to explain what it meant to my mother. And, she didn’t have to explain it like it was a generational thing. It was just a new term, at the time, used to describe someone who was into food – eating it, creating it, eager to explore new restaurants and expand one’s palate.

I really enjoyed watching The Taste and I’m looking forward to the next season. I, just like the other non-professionals on the show, enjoy cooking (not that the pros don’t) and I even considered applying to The Culinary Institute of America when I was eighteen; when I was going through the whole college application process. If I ever have the guts to audition for The Taste, I already know what I’m going to make as my entry dish. Anyway, so on some level, I guess I can call myself a ‘home cook.’

It’s interesting, though, how the term has become part of our cultural lexicon. At least when I was a kid, and perhaps more recently than that, the idea of cooking at home wasn’t really an idea, at all. Perhaps, because people are eating out more than in decades before, staying home, cooking and eating in is becoming more of an event than the (formerly) commonplace family dinner. People did cook at home but it was just another part of one’s daily life. The closest thing to the idea of a ‘home cook’ was probably the individual who did the occasional catering gig or, at a town picnic, where residents might enter a pie baking or barbecue grilling contest. And, they did so not to win a load of cash but, rather, to win a ribbon or a tin cup and, more importantly the admiration and even envy of their neighbors.

Today, we’d call them  ‘home cooks’ but it isn’t just a quick and easy phrase for someone who cooks at home. To me, it’s a term that’s better suited for someone who cooks at home (at least, not as a profession), who doesn’t have any (or much) formal culinary training, who cooks with some aspiration to doing something with their food outside of their own kitchens. As for me, I like to make certain things and I’ll experiment with different tastes but any aspirations I have with my cooking talents would be to open a small lunch place that serves simple dishes that I’ve grown to love, served over a bowl of rice; things like Filipino adobo and my mother’s Ginger Chicken.

Anyway, whether you’re a pro or a home cook – or, even, a plain and simple foodie – welcome to Panlasa. Thanks for stopping by and hope you read again soon.