If youâ€™ve read this blog for more than a hot second, you know that I LOVE me some lobster.
On my wallâ€¦ (also, my stationary, NBD)
In my mouth. (Slash on my dresser.)
So when FreshDirectÂ invited me to Maine to learn more about lobster, I was ALL. OVER. IT. (True story: one of the other girls asked why we were all invited on the trip. Basically, the other people were local food influencersâ€¦â€and Theodora just really likes lobster.â€)
As Iâ€™ve worked with FD on several blog and work projects in the past year or so, Iâ€™ve learned a lot about the company and what they stand for. Iâ€™m clearly no chef (hi, try searching this blog for a recipe. Good luck.), but I appreciate good food, good ingredients and attention to detail.
I was really impressed by their co-founderÂ David McInerneyâ€™s commitment to bringing his customers the best damn food he could find. Before founding FreshDirect in 2002, he was a chef in fine dining restaurants in NYC, so he understands the importance of good ingredients more than anyone else. We visited one of the lobster wholesalers they work with as well as a tomato farm where they source most of their tomatoes from, and David explained this trip was similar to the ones they usually take to visit their vendors.
BRB, catching lobsters.
After landing in Portland, we drove to Ogonquit to get on a boat to catch lobsters. STAY COOL THEODORA, STAY COOL. DONâ€™T THROW THAT LIVE LOBSTER, NO MATTER HOW SQUIRMY HE IS.
It wasnâ€™t my first time on a lobster boat, but some interesting things I heard again:
– If they catch a lady lobster with eggs, they throw her back because she can have up to hundreds of thousands of eggs. (Very few of those actually grow up to be viable lobstahs, though.)
– Theyâ€™ll clip a small piece of the femaleâ€™s tail if she does have eggs so no lobsterman will catch her.
– If you like tail meat, ask for a female lobster; if you like claw meat, ask for a male lobster.
From there, we went to a place called Stoneâ€™s Throw in York for lunch, where had delicious lobster rolls and a view of the ocean. I think I was too hungry and happy to take a picture?
From there, it was off to the lobster wholesalerâ€™s. His building can hold up to 150,000 POUNDS OF LOBSTER and ships as far away as China. The lobsters are outfitted with thermometers that attach to a USB so you can download the temperature to make sure theyâ€™re still safe to eat.
He had us over for a full-on lobster feast that night, and I think I died of happiness. I really donâ€™t mind pulling the shell off, since I think itâ€™s part of the charm, but he pulled our shells off in 2.5 seconds so we could get right at the meat. Smart man.
We stayed at the idyllic Dockside Guest Quarters.Â Iâ€™d stay there again in a heartbeat. All of us kept remarking how relaxed we were in the short time we were there. I stayed up late hanging out and laughing with the FreshDirect people, who are kind and funny.
Tuesdayâ€™s adventure = TOMATOES.
Backyard Farms, in Madison, ME, is where they source most of their tomatoes from. AND LOOK AT THEM. We tried quite a few tomatoes, and they were all perfectly ripe and juicy, with a hint of salt to bring out the taste.
These are called cocktail tomatoes, but I did not see a glass for them?
In all seriousness, what was most interesting about the farm was its labor practices: they like to instill a sense of ownership in each of their growers, so they have â€œpersonal growersâ€ that tend to a certain plot of rows, and they are responsible for the lifecycle of their fruits. Theyâ€™re all also salaried and have benefits, something uncommon in the industry.
And they make damn good tomatoes. They only sell them in New England and the Mid-Atlantic because of their commitment to quality and freshness, and they want to be able to guarantee that.
Our final stop on the trip was at the Allagash Brewery.Â I LOVE beer, but rarely drink it any more because it upsets my stomach. However, Allagash is a beer I first heard about nearly 10 years ago, so I was happy to visit the brewery, although I was fading fast by that point. (No, I did not have Sriracha beer.) The cool thing about Allagash is that they let anyone contribute ideas for new beers, and sometimes these names you see on barrels are only working names, not the real names. They also have a really cool sensory lab where they workshop new tastes and flavors to get them just right.
My dear friend Meg isÂ a beer snob, and she told me to look out for this beer brewed over cold brew.Â They didnâ€™t have it, but now I have new life goals, which is important.
It turns out, that if your flight is going to be canceled, a brewery is a great place to be stuck. The Allagash folk were amazing, staying open while we sorted our flights out.
And thatâ€™s all she wrote.
What would your dream food vacation be?Â I just went on mine, so Iâ€™m done here.