Monday, April 23, 2007

Cooking: Spring's First Lobster

Cooking: Spring’s First Lobster

Punxsutawney Phil let the Green Man down this year. You know, the groundhog Phil. After a long cold winter, and a cold and even longer spring, in New York we were sick and tired of our Uggs, our fleece slippers, our Dr. Zhivago fur hat and even our flannel jammies. We wanted daffodils by the river, dammit.

Most of all, The Green Man wanted Phil the Fisherman to come back to the Abingdon Square Farmer’s Market. It’s a fact that Phil Karlen and his family feed the Green Man and his family at least three days a week, from around St. Patrick’s Day to Thanksgiving. That’s eight months of the year that we eat fresh local fish (and even a meal or two during the winter months, thanks to Phil’s frozen crab cakes). That’s a lot of flounder, monk, scrod, tuna, skate, sole, scallops, squid, and clams. And so we were happy to see Phil return.

But the weather stayed bad all through March and into April, driving away the one sure sign of spring for the Green Man. Not the groundhog’s shadow. Not the daffodils, or the crocuses on our block in Chelsea, or babies in their strollers. No, for us spring is the flaring red shell of one of Phil’s Long Island lobsters peeking like rosy dawn itself out of a shopping basket.

Last weekend, Tax Weekend as it is commonly known, the weather stayed too cold and the sea too stormy, but Phil promised me a lobster for Earth Day.

It’s about ten blocks to Abingdon Square from our place. (Phil’s fish stand at Union Square is a tad out of the way for me, and he actually runs the Abingdon Square stand himself, usually with his grandson, the econ and music major.) It’s also my basic Saturday Food Walk , taking me past Myers of Keswick–that shrine of all foods British in New York–and the Chelsea Market, which supplies our Ronnybrook yoghurt and milk, our Amy’s Breads, lots of produce, the odd cut of meat from Frank’s the Steakhouse butcher shop, the Italian almost-like-wholesale Buonitalia store, plus a good wine shop and Eleni’s cookies. So as food walks go, it is right up there with Chinatown and Little Italy and bits of Bleecker Street and Lexington Avenue (in the upper 20s): the equivalent of the Hollywood Walk of Stars, only much tastier, and even healthier for you.

I set out with my cloth bag and camera, taking the pix you see here. The lobsters, two of them, already cooked, were waiting. “The first of spring, baby!” said Phil, hoisting them into the air.

I had bought two hot dog brioches from Amy’s Bread, intending to make lobster rolls for lunch, but the day grew so warm that the Green Femme and I ended up wandering for hours, just letting our bodies unkink from the long winter. Lobster rolls didn’t seem right for dinner–a little chill had returned--so as the sun set back home I started boiling water for some organic pasta and put in the steamer some broccoli.

The rest, as they say, is recipe:

*in cooking pan under low heat, add dash of olive oil, quarter stick of butter, then:
coarse sea salt
fresh ground black pepper
half cup frozen corn
one clove garlic chopped fine

*quickly shell lobsters, picking out meat and tossing underhand into pan with economy of motion
*when you get to the lobster body, eat the green stuff with your fingers but don’t tell your wife
*cover and cook for 5-8 minutes
*drain pasta
*cover with lobster, squeeze half a lemon, sprinkle with Parmesan

Serve with a light, even “green” white wine. I particularly like the cheap Portuguese tinto verdes with their slight fizziness and lower alcohol (10%). You can drink a couple of glasses and still blog afterwards!

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