Archive for September, 2011

September 27, 2011

Lobster…and more lobster



I like lobster.  On a recent trip back east to Maine for a wedding, i just couldn’t get enough of the stuff.  Out here in Oregon, we don’t get lobster much, so it’s pretty much a delicacy to me.  In the months leading up to our trip, I started my research.  I was going to get my fill of lobster in every way I could.  I wanted it fresh.  I wanted it cooked to order.  I wanted it in a roll.  I wanted it any which way I could get it…and get it I did!

In Portland, Maine, Margie and I wandered down to the waterfront in search of fresh lobster from Three Sons Lobster & Fish for some fresh from the boat lobster action.  This place did not disappoint.  We walked down the grimey, working wharf and into the warehouse dock.  Tanks of salty water greeted us along with a chalkboard menu of the day’s catch.  There were lots of things on the menu, but I only saw lobster.  After pleading my rookie-ness to the employees, they directed me to a nice 1.8 pound lobster that they pulled from one of the many tanks. It was a quick introduction, as I did not have anything to say, but “he’ll do.”   20 minutes later the lobster was properly steamed and ready for its butter bath.  Really, there is nothing better that comes from the sea, than lobster and melted butter.



Looking for a little variety in my lobster diet, I was directed to Red’s Eats, in Wiscasset, ME.  This is not a fancy place by any stretch of the imagination.  It’s is simply a roadside stand with the best lobster roll I have ever had.  If you don’t believe me on that, there are plenty of other’s that will back me up.  Red’s consistently gets voted the state’s top lobster roll.  This was a MUST STOP on our drive from Portland to Bar Harbor.

Lobster rolls traditionally come is some sort of bun (usually those silly east coast top cut hot dog buns), fresh chunk lobster meat, and a mayonnaise base sauce, sometimes with celery.  Red’s is something different though.  Their simplicity is admirable.  Their lobster roll is not only humungous in size (over a whole lobster is packed in it), but comes with the choice of the mayo sauce or melted butter.  Now what do you think I picked?  Darn right….melted butter!!!   I don’t think I could have it any other way after this.  This was THE PERFECT LOBSTER ROLL.

Red's Eats lobster roll


Overall, I could not have asked for anything better with our Lobsterfest Tour this summer in Maine.  The lobster and the wedding (the real reason we went to Maine) were both amazing.  If you are ever in Maine, try either of these places and you will not be disappointed.

All this lobster talk has now made me crave it again.  Mmmm.

September 12, 2011

Pappardelle alla Bolognese

Pappardelle alla Bolognese


2  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3   tablespoons butter

3   carrot, finely, diced

2   medium onions, diced

4   rib celery, finely diced

5   cloves garlic, diced

1   pound ground beef

1   pound ground pork

1   pound ground lamb

¼   pound pancetta or slab bacon, ground

9   oz. tomato paste

3   medium tomatoes, roasted and diced

1   cup milk

1   cup dry white wine

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Parmigiano-Reggiano, for grating

Wide noodle pasta, cooked and drained


In a large 8-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and sweat over medium heat until the vegetables are translucent and soft but not browned, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the beef, pork, lamb, and pancetta and stir into the vegetables. Add the meat over high heat, stirring to keep the meat from sticking together until browned.

Add the tomato paste, roasted tomatoes, milk, and wine and simmer over medium-low heat for 1 ½ hours.

Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and remove from the heat.

Mix a little sauce with cooked and drained pasta and toss gently.  Serve in large bowls and add additional sauce as necessary.  Top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Pasta has long been near the top of my favorite comfort foods list.  There is something about it that just makes me feel so satisfied after a nice bowl of tasty pasta.  I don’t make pasta dishes nearly as much as I should at home and I am always browsing restaurant menus for my favorite combination of pasta and sauce….a wide noodle Bolognese.  I love meat…and by definition, Bolognese is a meat sauce.  It doesn’t get any better than that!

I have had many different versions of Bolognese and they all seem to be a bit different; mostly all good, but just different.  With a little time in front of the computer with my friend, Google, I set out to find out what a real Bolognese sauce was.

From what I was able to gather, Bolognese is a simple, hearty meat sauce in every sense of the word , that dates back at least to the 5th century.  The meat is usually comprised of beef and pancetta and sometime pork as well.  It is mixed with very few other competing ingredients, such as the traditional mirepoix (a mix of diced carrots, celery, and onions), garlic, tomato paste, wine, and milk.  It really is a very simple mix that yields a very meaty, thick sauce.  Some add tomatoes, including myself, giving it more of a red color.  The traditional recipe, without the tomatoes, yields a much more brown colored sauce.

With my admission of adding tomatoes, I guess the word is out that I am not a cooking purist, so I might as well divulge my other straying’s in the Bolognese world.  I have been experimenting with the different meats included and have found that mixing several types yields a much more complex, deeper taste.  In this recipe, I used, beef, pork, lamb, and pancetta.  That should be enough meats!

It should be noted that the Italians do not pair a Bolognese sauce with the pasta shape spaghetti. Wider shaped pastas are thought to hold up to the heavy sauce better and provide the right balance of noodle to sauce.  To each their own though…