My weekend of lobster
Dinner is served.
A few weeks ago I travelled to Wellfleet, a town I had never heard of, for my friend Joe's wedding. The diminutive town of Wellfleet (I walked it's curvy roads in under an hour), is a sliver of Cape Cod sandwiched between Provincetown and Eastham. On the bus ride up there from the Port Authority, I thought of only one thing: lobster. I imagined it whole, in chowder and in a roll. Lucky for my imagination it all came true.
I arrived early in the afternoon, and, after a day of random snacks on the bus (plus one terrible cup of coffee from Dunkin' Donuts), I was starving. My friends picked me up from the station and, after stowing my suitcase in the trunk, we headed off in search of a late lunch. No surprise, the town of Wellfleet had few dining options. We headed for the only one still serving lunch, Mac's Shack. The inside restaurant was closed but the al fresco bar was wide open. I love eating at bars, so that was actually good news. Because of the late hour I opted for something small, the arugula and beet salad, with lobster salad on top. Sadly the whole mess arrived as overdressed as a Downton Abbey actor at the beach. The salad oozed its poppy seed vinaigrette all over the greens, and the lobster salad wept mayo sauce on everything else. I'm not sure why I didn't send it back. Actually, I am sure: I felt bad; I hated to see all that lobster go to waste. I can tell you this, my wine was nice, the company was great and the location is wonderful.
Wedding day was here, the rain cloud looked like it might continue on, and I was ready for more lobster. The day turned out to include everything I love most: clams, oysters, lobster, free booze, and a great band with a husky-voiced singer in cowboy boots. After the ceremony, by the bride's college roommate Martha, an Episcopalian minister, we retired to the deck for champagne and freshly shucked oysters and clams. I tried them each way: with cocktail sauce, with shallots and vinegar, with Tabasco and plain. Plain was the winner. Every other version means you do not taste the depths of the sea. When I finally made my way to the table no one was there. Outside the clear tent, by the caterer's setup, I saw that all the men were looky-looing over the lobster bake, made up of wooden crates, burlap tarps and billowing plumes of steam.
Dinner at the wedding
The baked clams were outrageous, and sure, there was melted butter involved but that’s not the only reason. They were chewy and earthy; I could taste both the sea and the land. Next was the actual meal, which I no longer needed but devoured. It was a whole lobster, along with a pair of red plastic lobster claws, two small red potatoes, an ear of corn, and a chunk of kielbasa. It was, as I tweeted that evening, the best meal I have ever had at a wedding.
The Frenchies and I drove north to P-town to go whale watching. Before the nine of us made our way to the boat, we had lunch in the so-quaint-it-looks-fake downtown. The Lobster Pot, a very touristy destination with impeccable service, had a menu dense with seafood options, and food that was okay (neither good or bad). I ordered the lobster and avocado tartare, basically a pile up of awesome ingredients that, despite its awesomeness, still ended up being just okay. Again it was overdressed, the mango on the top, which I had forgotten about, added a too sweet, somewhat canned flavor and everything just got too mushed together.
Later, after four hours on the boat, everyone was ready to eat again, but we thought it would be wisest to get back to Wellfleet. BAD idea. Every restaurant in the vicintity of Wellfleet was closed or minutes from closing. We were finally able to convince a small café to stay open if we promised only to order burgers, wings or salads. (A sad list if ever a list was compiled). I ordered a salad with chicken.
Before my friends took me back to the bus station I told them I wanted to go to PJ's Family Restaurant. Our friend Alex, a chef in Beirut, had raved about it the day before, even showing my pictures on his iPhone. I was hoping for a finale worthy of a chef. Off we went. This lobster roll, my first in the traditional cold New England style, totally wowed me. Giant chunks of lobster that weren’t hidden under any kind of sauce, just lightly dressed in lemon and mayo. First I ate most of my chowder, which was rich and chunky then I dunked many fries in the ketchup, and finally I ate a few forkfuls of lobster. Heaven. I didn't get far before I was piling the remaining lobster in a to-go container for later. The bread? Oh the bread. A crispy egg bun that was lightly grilled with just the right amount of crunch. You can’t miss PJs if you’re driving on Highway 6, the main drag of Cape Cod. Make sure you pull over.
The extra-large lobster roll at PJ's.
Did you know: a single serving of lobster has only 129 calories, 1.25 g of fat, and brings you 27.55 grams of protein, all of which make it an incredibly perfect lean protein. It delivers some offbeat vitamins and minerals too like niacin (2.64mg), folate (16gr), calcium (138), magnesium (62mg), and selenium (106mg). It does come with higher cholesterol and sodium, so if you're watching that be careful.