Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Red Hook Lobster Pound Truck and a Tale of Three Lunches

Ah, autumn in New York. It is one of those quintessential September days – cool, breezy, crystalline clear – and a Friday no less. It’s been a long week, and I’m kind of ready to power down.

As I’m walking to work – gazing at the skyscrapers and the theater marquees – I think to myself, “If Zany and Mad were still here, we’d be hitting the street for lunch on a day like this.”

I am of the firm belief that you should let people know when you’re thinking of them, so when I get to the office, I shoot the gals an email with exactly that thought. Mad responds immediately:

Big event for me at lunch today. We’re having a “guac-off” in the office. I’m really nervous, so wish my little avocados luck. Guacamole, it seems so easy! But, how do you make yours stand out?!?!? I was torn between doing something crazy and going traditional. You don’t even know the stress this has caused (and the number of beers I’ve been forced to drink while “practicing”).

A guac-off? But, of course. How else would the Queen of Bar Snacks spend a Friday?

Zany’s response is a little less supportive:

MAD???? I thought we were doing Food Truck Alley today?! What will I eat today?! I’m hysterical right now.

As you already know, lunch is hyper important to all of us. But, Mad Me-Shell will easily abandon fine dining and friendship to feed her competitive spirit. She writes:

Mama needs her guac trophy, Zany!!!! PRIORITIES!!!!!

Zany’s prospects are not looking good. She writes:

Damnit. I see another spinach and tomato wrap in my future. How boring.

Need I point out that it is not yet 9 a.m. on the East coast, and an hour earlier in Chicago, and the topic of lunch has already consumed three (mostly) professional people?

The day proceeds without incident until 11:33 a.m. when Mad Me-Shell forwards this suggestive tweet:

Ummm T.W.,

lobstertruckny Red Hook Lobster

Happy Freaking Friday! 46th btw 5th & 6th is where you can find some lobster lovin' today my dears.... service at 11 get on it!

Thank you serendipity and my well-connected street food friends! I pause for just a millisecond to see if Marie Antoinette is available for lunch. She’s in a meeting, so I leave her in the dust. The papers on my desk scatter in my wake as I rush out the door.

Within minutes I arrive on 46th Street. I’ve beaten the noon rush and I casually stroll up to the window of the Red Hook Lobster Pound Truck and place my order, attempting to pretend that I am not out of breath.

The Red Hook Lobster Pound was founded with the purpose of bringing the classic Maine dining experience to New York. They promise that their lobsters taste as good as if you were sitting on a dock in Boothbay Harbor.

The New York rolling lobster shack is known as “Big Red,” her sole mission to deliver “crustacean elation.” Big Red offers two styles of lobster roll. The Maine Style roll is served with a touch of homemade mayo, and the Connecticut Style is served with drawn butter. I choose Maine Style. At 16 bucks a pop, it’s an investment, but I’m already optimistic given the friendly New England greeting I’ve gotten from the woman working the window. I take my bag and grab a seat at an outdoor table that is conveniently only several steps away.

I open the bag. The lobster roll is a thing of beauty, a splash of Downeast summer in my fist. This is the real deal. Lightly dressed with mayo, and sprinkled with paprika, the glistening, pristine, fat chunks of lobster are nestled in a golden, buttery toasted bun.

Let me tell you, gang, it is kind of pricey for a lunch item, but it is damn good and well worth it (I’ve blown 16 dollars on far worse). One bite, and I truly believe I’m dining at a lobster shack on Mount Desert Island. In seconds, it is consumed. I consider returning for a second, but I remind myself that the electrical bill is due next week. I shoot the girls a photo. Mad responds:

Holy mother, that looks amazing!!!!

Zany is less enthusiastic, and might I say, she sounds a tad jealous. She writes:

This really didn't help my case today. Mad, you get guac...T.W. has lobster. Sigh.

That’s correct – we are indulging in communal food porn, gluttony and lunch envy in two different time zones.

And, while I’d like to say that a few friendly gulls enhanced my seaside experience, alas these were my only winged lunch companions.

Back at the office, I realize I haven’t heard the results of the guac-off so I ping Mad Me-Shell. She writes:

It’s complete. I’m in guacoma. Still waiting on the winners …

Shortly after, the results are in. I can almost hear Mad cheering from 840 miles away:

I WON I WON I WON I WON!!!!!!!!!!!

You’re probably wondering about the winning recipe. I am too, so I ask. Mad replies:

I’m so glad you asked, T.W. I did a few things different. I used fresh roasted corn cut off the cob, and I added just a hint of cumin. Also a few people made theirs last night and just brought it in (gross!). I made mine fresh today, but I did cut up the onions, jalapenos, tomatoes, and corn the night before and it created a bit of its own juice marinating in a bag together. I think that helped. Also, I put it in a pretty bowl and used cilantro garnish. Presentation counts!

I don’t know about you, but I think Martha Stewart had better watch her back.

As for Zany, she manages to redeem the day, and files this report:

To make myself feel better, I dove into a peanut butter Twix bar. Gotta love the community candy table.

I adjourn for the weekend with an uncontrollable craving for guacamole.

©2011 T.W. Barritt all Rights Reserved