Here’s something to stir passions: The best lobster rolls aren’t found in New England. They’re made in New York City at a place in the West Village called Pearl Oyster Bar, owner Rebecca Charles’ love letter to her childhood summers in Kennebunkport, Maine. Unlike so many shacks up north, the lobster at Pearl is never overcooked, the roll never stingy or full of unpleasant claw scraps, and the mayo is always just right. I’ve made it my mission to replicate Pearl’s superlative lobster rolls at home. Turns out it’s not hard at all. The key is to purchase live lobsters under 1.5 pounds, cook them in boiling water for 7 minutes, and plunge them in an ice bath. I like to serve lobster rolls with a heap of hot sea salt fries and a fresh berry tart. Pretty trad for an LA boy, right?
for 4 rolls, recipe by Pearl Oyster Bar:
4 Maine lobsters, about 1 pound each
½ cup of mayonnaise
1 celery rib, finely chopped
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 hot dog buns (preferably top loading)
chopped chives for garnish
Immerse the lobsters in rapidly boiling water and cook for 7-8 minutes. Transfer the lobsters to ice cold water to stop cooking. Cool thoroughly and drain. Separate the tails and the claws from the lobster bodies. Remove the meat and chop roughly into ½ inch pieces. Combine the lobster meat with the mayonnaise, celery, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Melt the butter in a nonstick skillet and press the buns open in the skillet, turning to coat both sides. Cook the buns until warmed. Fill the bun with lobster and sprinkle with chives.
BLACKBERRY TART with LEMON CURD & THYME
for the sweet tart dough, recipe by Alice Waters:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1 ¼ cups all-purpose unbleached flour
to assemble 5-6 four-inch tartlets:
2-3 cups of fresh blackberries
1 1/2 cups of lemon curd
thyme leaves for garnish
Beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the salt, vanilla extract, and yolk until completely combined. Add the flour and mix well until there are no dry patches. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight until firm. This recipe makes enough for one 9-inch tart or six 4-inch tartlets. When ready to roll out the dough, take it out of the refrigerator and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. On a floured surface and/or between two sheets of parchment paper, roll the dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Let the rolled pastry rest in the refrigerator before pressing it into a tart pan. Once the dough is pressed into the tart pan, chill the dough for at last 15 minutes more before baking in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Let the pastry cool before filling and unmolding. Fill each tartlet with lemon curd. Top with a generous amount of blackberries and glaze. Garnish with thyme leaves.
for the lemon curd, 1 ½ cups:
¾ cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon zest
In a stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water, continuously whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until the mixture is smooth and begins to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and lemon zest. The curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover and refrigerate for up to a week.
for the honey thyme glaze:
1/4 cup of honey
1 tablespoon warm water
12-16 sprigs of thyme, plus more for garnish
Stir the honey and warm water together in a bowl. Muddle the thyme in the honey mixture and let sit at room temperature for at least an hour. Pour the mixture through a sieve to remove the thyme.