Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"Lobster Rolls & Blueberry Pie" - Pearl Oyster Bar Lobster (or Shrimp) Roll

  1. Date I made this recipe: July 29, 2007

    Lobster Rolls & Blueberry Pie – Three Generations of Recipes and Stories from Summers on the Coast of Maine by Rebecca Charles of Pearl Oyster Bar and Deborah DiClementi
    Published by: ReganBooks
    ISBN: 0-06-051582-1
    © 2007


    Recipe: Pearl Oyster Bar Lobster (Shrimp) Roll – p. 209-10

    Well, let’s just get a few things out of the way right now:

    1. At $30.00 plus a pound, making the Pearl Oyster Bar’s famous lobster roll was clearly out of the question but hey, if you have the money for it, you go right ahead.
    2. Luckily, Rebecca Charles, co-author of this book, said you can use shrimp. But (and she is most generous on this) the recipe calls for 2 pounds of shrimp (or lobster) to make two rolls and that’s a lot of shrimp for two people. I used one pound of shrimp and lived to tell about it.
    3. In case you don’t know, lobster does not taste like shrimp and so while the shrimp roll was good, the lobster roll is even better. How do I know this?
    4. Because I’ve eaten at the Pearl Oyster Bar, located in New York’s Greenwich Village, and it was the best lobster roll I’ve ever had. And so before I even got started, I knew that no matter what I made, it would not even come close to Rebecca’s…and it didn’t. But I didn’t care because…
    5. The story of my afternoon at the Pearl Oyster Bar is far more interesting than this recipe. Here’s why….

    It was the first week of August 2004. I had just finished taking the bar exam at the end of July and as a treat, made my annual pilgrimage to visit my friend, Susan, and her husband, Bob. I usually don’t go in August as it tends to be a little hot, but I was so in need of a getaway, and believe it or not, going to NYC relaxes me.

    So Susan and I decided to go shopping and dining and when she asked where I wanted to go, I replied that I wanted to try the Pearl Oyster Bar as I had read the cookbook and thought it sounded fantastic. And so we went to the Village and into the place for a late lunch.

    We weren’t even in the door more than two seconds when all of a sudden we heard “Susan! Susan!!”

    Turns out the person trying to get Susan’s attention was Bob’s (Susan’s husband) cousin, Debbie. Debbie was there with her father, Bob’s uncle Frank. Turns out that Bob’s cousin Debbie is Deborah—as in Deborah DiClementi -co-author of this cookbook. “It’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all….”

    But we did not know this until Debbie asked us what we were doing there and when Susan said we were there because of the book, Debbie shrieked and identified herself as the co-author. She said “Rebecca will just die when I tell her how you came here” but before we could get over to talk to Rebecca, Debbie “yoo hooed” a couple of gentlemen leaving the place.

    “Oh, it’s too bad they couldn’t stay longer. Those men are the producers of The Sopranos.”

    Well, folks, our jaws about crashed to the floor. And, of course, by the time we recovered from our near-meeting with them, they were out the door. Phooey. I mean, for one second, I had visions of stardom. After all, I am half-Sicilian and my dad is a New Jersey native and his parents were from the same town in Sicily as famous mobster Lucky Luciano so there just had to be a walk-on roll for me somewhere down the line. After all, I was practically family! (In an act of benevolence, I would have gotten non-Sicilian Susan in as well, seeing as how she knows Cousin Debbie and all).

    But alas, it was not to be and so we sat down, dejected but hungry and ready to eat. But first things first as cousin Debbie was still working the room and, of course, is soon “yoo hoo”ing someone else. And I love this—she so casually says “Oh that was Boz Scaggs’ son (Boz was a popular singer in the 70’s. He sang the Lido Shuffle, Harbor Lights to name a few.).”

    Were we driving these people away? I mean really, that was two sets of famous or near-famous people we didn’t get to meet. But then to lift our spirits, Debbie said “Boz is in here someplace…” before she left to meet and greet someone else.

    Well people Boz was indeed “someplace.” In fact, Boz was sitting right behind us. And just as I caught his profile out of the corner of my eye, Susan said, in what I feel was NOT her inside voice “NOW WHAT DID HE SING?” “For God’s sake, shhhhhsh!” So I told her (sotto voce) and just then, I caught what I’m sure was an amused smirk on Boz’s face. And don’t ask me why but I tried to signal to Susan that he was behind us and of course that didn’t work. I threw my head in his direction and out of the corner of my mouth said “He’s right behind us” but she didn’t get it and so, of course, turned and practically looked him right in the eye. It was not a good “We’re your biggest fans” moment.

    But just when we thought we might want to jungle-crawl out of there, Rebecca Charles came over to meet us. I felt like an idiot as I just gushed at how I loved the cookbook and I was just so thrilled to meet her, yada, yada, yada but to my relief, she took it all in stride. After we ate her famous lobster roll, I really should have kissed her ring but that might have been taking things just a bit too far. Might.

    So anyway, after all the yoo hooing and fawning and whatnot, we rolled ourselves out of there and went shopping. Given the size of the lobster roll and the shoestring potatoes that came with it, we were not hungry until much later that night. Not really in the mood to go too far (Bob was babysitting but we still wanted to stay close by), we decided to go to a favorite neighborhood place, Gennaro’s, on the Upper West Side on Amsterdam between 92nd and 93rd.

    Now, as God is my witness, I am not making this up. We no sooner sat down when this woman with very unusual hair walked right by us.

    “Is that Cyndi Lauper?” I queried our server. (Cyndi is most famous for her song Girls Just Wanna Have Fun)

    Indeed, it was her, in the flesh…and the interesting-colored hair.

    Now, I have several theories for how it is that we had so many brushes with fame that day and the reason, I think is that I (and okay, I’ll include Susan as well) attract the rich and famous. Gotta be. Now if we could only work on that timing thing so that somewhere down the line these near-connections result in something. My latest fantasy is that I tell Cyndi that I’m a singer as well and am thinking we could do a great duet and I know she just finished a tour but if she could see her way to including me next time…….

    Pearl Oyster Bar Lobster (or Shrimp) Roll – serves 2
    2 pounds cooked lobster meat, chopped roughly into ½ and ¾-inch pieces (If using shrimp, substitute 2 pounds of shrimp, cooked, peeled, and sliced in half lengthwise)
    ½ celery rib, finely chopped
    ¼ cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
    Squeeze of lemon
    Pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 teaspoons unsalted butter
    2 Pepperidge Farm top-loading hot dog buns (I couldn’t find these so used Pepperidge farm side-loading instead)
    Chopped chives for garnish

    To make the lobster salad, in a large bowl, combine the lobster meat, celery, mayonnaise, lemon, and salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Cover the mixture and store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve. It will last up to 2 days.

    To prepare the buns, in a small sauté pan over low to medium heat, melt the butter. Place the hot dog buns on their sides in the butter. Flip the buns a couple of times so that both sides soak up an equal amount of butter and brown evenly. Remove the buns from the pan and place them on a large plate.

    Fill the toasted buns with the lobster salad. Sprinkle with chives and serve with a salad, slaw, or shoestring potatoes.

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