I lived twenty-six years on this planet without ever dining on the flesh of the lobster. As a child, I always considered animals such as lobster or crab too time consuming and complicated to eat. It never seemed rational to me that a meal should require so much work in order to derive such a small amount of sustenance. My parents and sister coveted any chance they had to cook up fresh crab for meals at home, during which I would dine on some other food item while they prodded, cracked, and stabbed at their plates. Ordering lobster off the menu at any restaurant that served it was seldom ever an option, given that one could always count on it to be the most expensive dish on the menu. As I grew older and began cooking more meals for myself, I never entertained the idea of preparing my own lobster feast, for the thought of throwing a live lobster into a pot of boiling water seemed about the most inhumane method of cooking I could imagine. That was until a few days ago when peer pressure, Jesus Christ, and Martha’s Vineyard all converged into one force, delivering me my first foray into the unique realm of this succulent six-legged crustacean.
Every Friday night of the year Grace Episcopalian Church in Vineyard Haven, MV holds a lobster roll feed in order to raise money for their place of worship. For those who are like me, and have had little to no experience with the lobster as a food source, lobster rolls are quite simply lobster sandwiches that are made from chopped up pieces of lobster, mixed into a simple salad using mayonnaise, salt and pepper, lemon juice, and any other spices or seasonings one might want to add in order to accentuate the lobster’s distinctive natural flavors. Tara and Dan, Ali’s older sister and future brother-in-law, just so happen to be self-appointed experts on this particular dish. Proud residents of New York City, Tara and Dan (or T and D as we like to call them) covet the lobster rolls dished out by their home city’s own Pearl Oyster Bar. However, at a price of $25 or more per roll, they often find it difficult to justify the cost of treating themselves to this tasty and inimitable fare.
During our second day here on the island T and D were chatting up some locals to try to get the inside scoop on the best local eateries the various towns around the island have to offer. Much to their delight they learned of Grace Church’s weekly Friday Evening Lobster Roll Feast, and decided that it would be a perfect dining opportunity for me, knowing that I had not yet had the pleasure of feeding on this devilish-looking sea creature. Needing just the slightest bit of convincing, I finally agreed to the outing, and late Friday afternoon we all made our way down to Vineyard Haven, and Grace Episcopalian Church.
Once we reached the church I was so excited to catch a glimpse of these sandwiches T and D had been talking up for the past twenty-four hours, that I ran right past the two women selling tickets at the door until one of them made an attempt to stop me. “You can’t eat if you don’t buy a ticket,” the lady in the white sweater and clear-rimmed glasses yelled at me from the entry, as I continued to make my way past the serving table and toward the Church kitchen where the real magic was taking place. The folks at Grace most definitely subscribe to the age old acronym of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) when creating their rolls, opting for a simple hot dog bun as their bread base, as well as using only mayonnaise, salt and pepper to dress the ‘salad’ portion of the roll. No doubt their method of preparation allows for the lobster meat itself to take the center stage, and with large, sometimes fifty-cent sized pieces of fleshy tissue literally holding the entire dish together, these Episcopalians surely know how to deliver on the flavor factor. Served with potato chips, and your choice of beverage (coffee, iced tea, or lemonade), the entire meal feels like a steal at $13 per order. And if the roll alone isn’t enough, one can obtain a slice of pie for dessert for an extra $3. Pie choices available the night we paid a visit included Strawberry/Rhubarb, Lemon Meringue, Blueberry, Pecan, Apple, Coconut Cream, Chocolate Cream, Cookies & Cream, and Banana Cream. A perfect Church visit, and without any of the guilt, even despite the fact that the eyes of Jesus himself are gazing down upon you from various paintings while you dine at small tables scattered throughout the Church’s mess hall.
Oh…and how did I like my roll you might be wondering? Well, I think the fact that Ali was unable to photograph me eating due to the speed at which I consumed my sandwich speaks volumes for the fine work the folks at the Grace Church are doing. This is was question among the holiest of foods I have ever eaten.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 7:47 AM