Today is National Lobster Day and in honor of this delicacy that was once fed to prisoners and servants, we decided to dive into the history of this coveted crustacean.
According to history.com, when European settlers came to North America, the lobsters were so plentiful along the beaches that they would pile up two feet high along the shoreline. Native Americans used lobster for fertilizer in their fields and as fishing bait. The plentitude of lobster allowed it to be served to prisoners, servants, apprentices and children. It was branded the “poor man’s protein.”
Fast forward a few centuries later and lobster is now a pricey treat on the menu. It is still a good source of protein. Nutrition websites reveal that one cup of cooked lobster (about 145 grams) contains 129 calories, 1.25 grams of fat, 0 carbohydrates and 27.55 grams of protein. That’s until you add the drawn butter, of course.
Vail may be 2,000 miles away from the coast of Maine, where many of the lobsters we dine on come from, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t have our share of great lobster dishes to choose from. Dimitri Souvorin, long-time chef and part-owner of Montauk in Lionshead, said he loves to work with lobster. “It is so versatile, you can serve it so many ways. We’ve done tempura-fried, steamed, served it in pasta dishes and in our risotto,” said Souvorin, referring to the Lobster Arancini on the appetizer menu.
Souvorin prefers cold water versus warm water lobster and sources much of the lobster for Montauk from Maine and Canada. Souvorin said he loves ordering up special items for customers, too. “If you have a special event like an anniversary or a birthday and you want lobster, I can find you the size you are looking for and put a delicious meal together for you at our restaurant,” Souvorin said.
In the Vail Valley, you won’t just find lobster while dining indoors at a restaurant. It has also become popular street fare at the Vail Farmers Market and Art Show. For 15 years, the Left Bank has been serving up its famous lobster roll. “Years ago we started with 50 or 60 rolls each Sunday and it’s increased every year and now we serve 200 at each market,” said Jean-Michel Chelain, chef-owner of The Left Bank in Vail Village.
Due to COVID-19, the lobster roll was offered for take out this spring and the Left Bank started doing lunch this summer and it’s now a popular item for dining in. “But you can order it to-go and we’ll have it on the bar menu all winter,” Chelain said.
Chelain uses finely chopped, rinsed and pressed ingredients in his lobster salad that he puts on the roll. He also uses house-made potato bread. “The potato puree keeps the bread moist and soft,” Chelain said.
Want to make a lobster dish at home? Tracy Miller of Colorful Cooking is a caterer in town. She is from Maine and loves her lobster. “Being a Maine girl, I don’t substitute lobster for anything. Here is a mini appetizer with lobster that is on the cheap and people love it,” Miller said.
2 lobster tails, raw
Frozen Filo Cups
1/3 cup mayo or sour cream
You have to use some muscle for this: lay the lobster tail on its back, flatten it out with one hand and using a chef knife slice from top to bottom of the tail. Pry open and remove the meat. Chop the meat into small pieces and cook it in a frying pan with butter over medium heat until pink. Place half cooked lobster and mayo in food processor and blend until smooth. Fill each Filo cup with a little mayo mixture, then a piece of lobster and a sprinkle of fresh tarragon. Makes 16.