The lobsters of Cohasset

lobster Cohasset

Let’s have a lobster weekend,” my friend R. said. “I’ll talk to my lobster guy.”

Your lobster guy?

Yes. You’ll see. You’ll love to meet him.

Quite frankly, I was excited. First, we really love to hang out with our friends R. and E. Secondly, they live in a beautiful house on the South Shore, with an amazing view on the ocean, a huge (me happy!) pool and jacuzzi. Then, my friend R loves to cook — and does it very well — and he grows a vegetable garden. He also speaks French, and that’s always something relaxing for my end-of-week tired brain.

I’ll make dessert!

Parfait! he exclaimed joyfully.“And what do you think about a lobster salad with tarragon?

What did I think about it? I loved the idea!

That’s how our conversation ended and how P., Lulu and I had a great plan to look forward to for the weekend.

I packed on Friday night, filling our bags with delicious foods I wanted to bring, and on Saturday morning, we drove down south.

“J’ai déjà commencé,” (I’ve started already) R. said when we walked into the kitchen. He seemed jolly, busy working along behind the stove. I caught sight of three pink lobsters on the counter and felt relieved. I’ve never liked the part that involves plunging the lobsters into a pot, and I was glad that he had done it for me. “I still have four more,” he added with a wide smile lighting his tanned face. Clearly, we were going to dine on a lobster feast.

We sat in the small wooden shelter nested by the pool, eager to chat and catch up — we hadn’t seen each other in weeks. We were treated with a lunch of homegrown juicy tomatoes and cucumber that we ate with Italian prosciutto and Tallegio cheese. And as expected, R. and I started to talk about our dinner plan.

Demain, on ira voir Tommy Alioto,” he said. He was talking about his lobster guy, Tommy, who owns and runs the Cohasset Lobster Pound on picturesque Cohasset Harbor. “You’ll see, he is quite a character! He’s got a smile!



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We made a salad with local Heirloom tomatoes and the next day, I picked vegetables — squash, eggplant, pepper and fresh herbs — that filled a basket to bring home. We debated what best lobster salad recipe to follow for our meal and settled on one inspired by Jasper White.

R. cooked four small 1 1/4 pound lobsters and removed the meat for the lobster salad along with the meat from the 5 pound lobster we used to serve the salad. He made the tarragon mayonnaise and I assembled the lobster salad and baked raspberries almond mascarpone flans.

We chatted and ate our food and drank a Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru “Les Chaumées” 2002 — a perfect accompaniment to lobster. We enjoyed a fabulous dinner.

And the next morning, as planned, we went to see Tommy.

Tommy had quite a smile indeed! He gave us a generous welcome, we shook hands and he took us downstairs to see the lobsters.

Here’s the beast!” he said after pulling a gigantic lobster from the tank which he held proudly in front of him. The lobster weighed twenty pounds and seemed enormous. “Wow, that’s a big one for sure!

I could not help but think that that one was just as heavy as Lulu!

I learned that Tommy buys his lobsters from about thirty Cohasset lobster boats and arranges their sale. Up to 7000 pounds of lobster are stored live in his large seawater tank and many are shipped daily to Milan in Italy.

What about a lobster bisque?” R. asked after we had finished our dinner. It was hard to believe we were already thinking about the next meal but it’s never a surprise, really. Quite a habit instead. “Let’s make one for lunch tomorrow,” he added.

So this is how he started to make lobster broth late at night while tidying the kitchen. He took a large stock pot out in which he dumped the lobsters carcasses from our feast. He covered with water and brought the food to a boil. Then, he added some white wine leftover and added an onion, a leek, a few tomatoes and carrots. He added a few celery branches and 1 tablespoon of tomato paste — you can also add saffron. He brought the broth to a boil, seasoned with salt and pepper and then reduce the heat to let it simmer for 1 hour and a half. We left the broth sit overnight so that the flavors develop even more, and the next morning, R. strained and reduced the broth on high heat. To serve the lobster bisque, we added a few pieces of lobster meat we had kept and thickened the bisque by adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. We finished with fresh tarragon, a generous dollop of heavy cream and a dash of sherry to round the taste. It was simply astonishingly delicious. Trust me, you’ll have to try it!

Do you want to take some broth home?” R. asked.

It was hard for me to hide my excitement. Of course I wanted broth! I was so happy that I could have kissed him for even suggesting it. Well, I think I gave him an honest kiss on each cheek as French people like to do!

And so the next day, when we were back at home, I made my own lobster bisque for dinner. It was so good that both P. and I ate as slowly as we could, making sure not to leave a single drop in our bowls.

Nothing goes to waste,” I remembered R. had added when preparing the broth.

I couldn’t agree more, especially when food tastes that good.

Lobster salad with tarragon

For the tarragon mayonnaise:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon French mustard
  • 2 teaspoons chopped tarragon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cold water

Steps:

  • In a bowl, combine the mustard, egg yolk and a pinch of salt, and whisk until combined.
  • Drizzle the oil, but never stop whisking. When you have added half of the oil, add the lemon juice and continue then with the oil, until you reach the consistency you like.
  • At the end, add the tarragon and water. Store in the fridge until ready to use. You do not need all the mayonnaise for the salad.

For the lobster salad:

  • 1 lb fully cooked lobster meat or 5 pounds live lobster**
  • 1/2 red pepper, white parts and seeds removed, and sliced finely
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, peeled and seeded, and diced
  • Tarragon mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 scallions, diced

Steps:

  • Boil the lobsters until cooked and remove the meat from the carcass and claws, tails and knuckles. Dice the meat and transfer to a bowl.
  • Add the cucumber, pepper and mayonnaise. Use as much mayonnaise as you like in a salad.
  • Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve fresh.

**
Note: to boil 1 pound live lobster will take about 8 minutes; 1 1/2 pounds 11 to 12 minutes; 2 pounds about 15 minutes. Choose a large pot, big enough to hold the lobster and be able to stir. Do not fill the pot more than 3/4 full with water. Add 1/4 cup of salt for each gallon. Bring the water to a rolling boil before adding the lobster to the water. Count how many minutes from the time you plunge the lobster into the water.

83 comments

  1. belle images comme d’hab. bise – secret admirer-

  2. A heavenly weekend for sure. The tomatoes, the lobster broth, I can almost smell it! Of course, when I think of New England, Boston, this is the type of meal that comes to my mind. Really delicious, nice photos too. I can feel the sea breeze!

  3. Lovely post! I’m hungry now.

    Two quibbles. In the tarragon mayonnaise recipe, you say “drizzle the oil, never stopping to whisk.” which is a French grammatical construction; in English it would be more natural to say “Drizzle the oil, but never stop whisking.” Strictly, in “never stopping to whisk” the “stopping” conventionally applies to the drizzling, implying that you keep drizziling and don’t resume whisking til done, which will result in a mess, not yummy mayonnaise.

    Second, in the cooking instructions for the lobster you say “Add 1/4 cup for each gallon of water.” Salt, I guess?

    Still, I enjoyed this posting very much/

  4. Hi Berry,

    I corrected the mistakes. Many thanks! Helpful!

    Merci Helen, Valérie-Jeanne, Lea and Mowie!

  5. I grew up in Scituate, which is right next door to Cohasset. Living all the way across the country now in Portland, OR, I was beaming when I saw the subject-line of this post. These are the kinds of summer meals I grew up with, and the ones I miss the most.

  6. I’m glad you weren’t offended. Now I want lobster for dinner!

  7. What an amazing weekend! Your photos are amazing! I love lobster!!!! growing up along the east coast of Canada I truly appreciate lobster… and that first photo, has to be honestly the most perfect lobster ever!

  8. what lovely pictures! it looks like you spent the w-end in paradise, eating heavenly food.

  9. This is such a great New England post. Your pictures are just beautiful and that lobster – incredible! The Cohasset house is just lovely- especially the salt marsh views. I guess I know what I’ll be making for dinner this week. I may even hunt down that fish market.

  10. what a great post! everything sounded delicious and your friends home looked so beautiful!

  11. Amazing post! Good friends, family and wonderful meals, these are the weekends we appreciate too!…

  12. I’m reading your blog for quite a while and now I finally decided to tell you – what you are doing, from photos to recipes, is simply perfect.

    Too bad there are neither such great blogs nor lobster guys in Russia…

  13. Merci pour cette sublime balade, et je craque complètement pour ce homard, superbes photos
    Bonne journée

  14. Wahou! What an amazing lobster! I haven’t thought it can be that big!
    When seeing your pictures I want to run back to the ocean… When seeing the meals… I’m just thinking : how great it should have been!
    Congratulations to you and your friends for this trip :)

  15. I woke up this morning to your gorgeous photos – what a place and what a feast! So beautiful. And I’m making that bisque the next time we have lobsters. Loved your post.

  16. Je viens de passer un excellent moment en admirant tes photos, et en lisant ce post! J’aime beaucoup cuisiner le homard (un peu cher hélàs!). Ici en Betagne on en trouve facilement du très frais…

  17. I have not seen photos them of seafood or lobsters, these entan very pretty… enchanted to me, beautiful

  18. What a fun post and how much we miss lobster living in the mountains of North Carolina. Not much seafood here. You made your own mayonnaise – cool. I grew on homemade mayo and still make it from time to time – it’s the best. Your photos were outstanding, as they always are. I felt like I was with you (maybe I should say wished also).
    Sam

  19. yum. double yum. It’s been years since we went to the Maine coast and had lobster and mussels every day. Plus, what is that dessert. . . it looks really good.

  20. Bea, je suis completement charmé par ton blog… je vien de lire les articles le plus vieux e je ne peu pas me retenir de te faire savoir que j’ai beaucoup aimé tes photos, tes recettes et tes comptes: ils sugèrent un monde et une vie très “poètiques”, quando on te lit on croit rever. Excuse moi pour mes fautes, il ya longtemps que je n’ecris pas en français, mais je voulais absolument me congratuler. Bisous

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  22. That’s a really huge lobster that Tom has in his hands! And a great lobster salad too that you made!

  23. What a beautiful post! The food, the place, the faces, the LOBSTERS!! I’m most definitely going to make that bisque (already added lobster to the next food shopping list) and I would love to make the raspberry mascarpone flan too – could you share the recipe? It looks delicious…
    Merci Bea pour ton blog…..tes photos, tes recettes, toujours belles et delicieuses!

  24. LOL! Well living on cape cod I can truly say I have ‘a lot of my lobster guys’. ha ha.
    And a fish guy and a clams guy.
    That was a good read though….

  25. J’adore votre “blog”. Je suis quebecoise de Montreal, mais americaine d’adoption, nous vivons a Park City au Utah, alors vous imaginez … trouver des “lobsters frais” … pas toujours facile, quoique possible. Mon mari travaille pour une societe francaise de ski …. j’adore suivre tous vos voyages et vos recettes. Nous ADORONS cuisiner et ma foi y reussissons fort bien. Merci pour vos recettes, photos, trucs, etc …..

  26. Oh how I miss living in the Boston area! Crane beach and now this – New England lobster! It reminds me of some childhood trips to Maine for fresh-caught lobster. Thanks for sharing these great images!

  27. oh how wonderful! we know tommy at bryant rock well, cohasett is my favorite south shore towns, we lived right next door in duxbury! Oh you captured everything so beautifuly bea, really such a lovely way of writing and documenting. also to have someone like “r” to share in the making and excitement is priceless…

  28. You make this look and sound so wonderful; your pictures and you stoires. J’ai une belle soeur qui demeure à Windham New Hampshire. J’adore la visiter surtout l’automne; elle nous reçoi toujours avec un repas d’homards.
    Merci pour me faire revivre de bons moments.
    Rita/Sage

  29. lovely article. as always.
    reminds me of the greatest week-end on Vinalhaven ME, a 3-day lobster party, an ice-cream named “chocolate orgasm” and friends playing Johnny be good on the porch….

  30. bea, reading your posts it’s always like having a litte piece of vaccations on my own! thank you for sharing this trip with us!

  31. I am really missing coast of Mass. and just had to cancel a trip there-your photos and lobster feast will have to tide me over until next year’s trip…merci!

  32. Oh. I am speechless. Really, this post is so lovely it brings tears to my eyes. Thank you.

  33. Oh no! I’m on a lobster bisque craving now!!

    That looked like a weekend spent beautifully!! I wish I live so much nearer to nature too…

  34. Je viens de découvrir ton blog et je le trouve très sympathique et puis un homard…c’est toujours une bonne idée.

  35. Thank you so much everybody, one again! It was a special time and I know we were lucky! Lobsters, yum!

  36. i live in scituate and it looks like you made it to cohasset and marshfield (brant rock) without a stop in between!

    there’s nothing better than a neighbor bringing over lobsters to share.

  37. Magnifiques photos et recette! S’il vous plaît, j’aimerais tellement avoir la recette des raspberries almond mascarpone flans. Serait-il possible de l’avoir sur le blog ? J’aimerais les faire… ils sont si beaux!
    Merci et compliments pour votre travail!
    Meilleures salutations

  38. How cool to know someone that has a ‘lobster guy’ – that crustacean in your picture is enough to feed a family of 4! Thanks for sharing your weekend and lovely snaps!

  39. R sent me the link to you. Sounds like a wonderful R/E weekend, great food, great cooking, great wine, impeccable sourcing. Excellent description.

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  41. And before I forget — too common these days! — I’ll try to get to posting the recipe with the mascarpone flan! Thanks for your patience ;-)

  42. Is it possible to get the recipe for Raspberries Almond Mascarpone Flan?
    I would love to have it.
    It looks delicious!!!
    Thank you,
    Ellen G

  43. Your photos are of great inspiration to me in my own foray into food blogging. God bless you and your beautiful family and all the best on your upcoming book!

  44. Ohhh merci. I was just in Wellfleet and had my first lobster. This is making my cravings worse!

  45. I can’t get enough lobster! Nothing’s quite as decadent, especially with a great wine! (Click on my name for the best site I could find about wine reviews…the guy’s the best I’ve found)…

    I really the pictures which accompany your posts. Thank you for the amazing quality!

    Keep posting and I’ll keep you on my Blogroll!

    Thanks!
    T.

  46. Hi Steve,

    I think you are right! Nice age and should be left free! Thanks for the info!

  47. Pingback: Cranberry harvest in New England | La Tartine Gourmande

  48. i LOVE these photos – I just recently moved away from MA and these photos are making me miss cape cod summers!

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  51. Hello, Saw your incredible book at Anthropologie, which has a lovely collection of culinary goodies…GORGEOUS. I miss my lobster so much. Lived in Westwood my whole life and relocated to Naples, FL 11 years ago. I still buy fresh lobster meat at a wonderful seafood place from Cape Cod which has a place here in Naples….Swan River. The many fabulous lobsters — so many —famously the South Shore, Nantucket,Chatham and Dennis on the Cape, Cape Elizabeth Maine, Cranes Beach Ipswich for the beautiful fried clams AND the lobster pots right outside there at Woodmans…J.T. Farnams..and all the wonderful lobster rolls of my past! I make lobster mac and cheese to remember, once in a while! WHAT A GORGEOUS BOOK! Will order soon!!!

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