By Adam Bower, as told to Signe Langford
Oh, how times have changed! Back in the 1950s and ’60s, when Adam Bower’s mom was growing up in a small fishing village outside Lunenburg, N.S., the curtains were drawn if lobster was on the table for dinner. In those days, it was considered poor man’s food, a source of shame. Today, it’s with great pride the sommelier-owner of Grand Banker Bar & Grill in Lunenburg serves what is now a highly prized delicacy.
By the time I was growing up in Lunenburg, eating lobster was no longer considered shameful or something you had to do when times were tough. It was a pretty special occasion, and we only had a big lobster feed a couple of times a year. Mom and Dad would make a call, then go and meet a lobsterman at the dock for 10 pounds of the freshest lobster—literally, it had been out of the water for just minutes! Mom would boil it and serve it with potatoes, corn on the cob, salad and lots of melted butter. Dad would break them all down—claws in one bowl, tails in another, legs and all the smaller bits in another—so we kids got to pick our favourite parts. The next day, Mom would turn any leftover lobster meat into lobster rolls. But to be honest, I was a picky eater, and it wasn’t until I was in my early teens and had started working in the restaurant business that I really started to appreciate lobster.
When I was 19, I went to work for Alan Creaser at the Grand Banker Bar & Grill. The place was a fixture in Old Town Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The restaurant is on the waterfront, across from where the Bluenose II is docked. When Creaser called to tell me he was selling the restaurant and asked if I wanted to buy it, I leaped at the chance to come back home to take it over. I started hearing from locals and loyal customers. I’d get letters saying, “I hope you’re leaving such-and-such on the menu.” So I left core signature dishes but made many enhancements, including fresh menu items, an in-depth wine list, craft beers and switching over to a local artisanal bakery—Boulangerie la Vendéenne—for all the breads and buns we use. That’s one of the reasons our lobster roll is so special; I serve it in a warm brioche roll that’s eggy and a little bit sweet, and it complements the claw and knuckle meat perfectly.
Our lobster roll is simple: some house-made citrus aioli, green onion, a small amount of lettuce and a good quarter pound of claw and knuckle meat—I want the lobster to shine. When lobster is in season, I take a 20-second walk down to the lobster pound for lobster that’s just come off the boats. We don’t do anything fancy; the lobster meat is so sweet and fresh we don’t need to—just boil them in salted water. And don’t forget a cold Propeller pilsner or one of Nova Scotia’s delicious white wines to wash it down!
Nova Scotia Lobster Roll, courtesy of Adam Bower
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Yields: 1 sandwich
1¼ lb (565 g) Nova Scotia lobster, bands removed
2 tbsp (30 mL) mayonnaise
1 tsp (5 mL) lemon zest
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) green onions, chopped
1 artisan-style hotdog bun
1 leaf romaine hearts, chopped
1 handful of parsley, chopped
1. In stockpot, bring water to boil. Add live lobster; cook for about 10 minutes, until lobster is bright red. Remove; let cool. Crack claws and knuckles, removing meat. Reserve remaining meat for future use.
2. In bowl, mix together mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice and green onions. Stir in lobster meat.
3. In oven, toast bun (fresh from your local bakery, if possible), until warm and crisp outside. Score down middle; fill with romaine.
4. Place lobster mixture on top of romaine; sprinkle with parsley. Serve with lemon wedge.
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