Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Eats Blog rant: The really horrific ways so many Dallas kitchens mangle lobster - Dallas Morning News

This was originally posted to the Eats Blog.

Maybe I’ve just had a run of bad lobster days. But I am finally fed up enough to get a good rant on about the really horrific ways so many Dallas kitchens mangle lobster.

I know, I know. Lobster is expensive. Most people aren’t eating lobster, and when they are it’s a special occasion. But that’s just the point: If you or I are going to shell out the clams for lobster, I at least want something that’s memorable for all the right reasons.

The most memorable lobster in my life was served to me by the Drouhin wine family in Burgundy. I was their guest, and the server brought small, cute jars filled with warm lobster, a little clarified butter, a little seasoning, a few bread crumbs. The rich lobster flavor, the yielding texture of the substantial chunks (claw and tail), the buttery bath still flood my mind with pleasure â€" and this was in 2007. Lobster and Chablis is a classic combination, and each lifted the other to a kind ofgustatory nirvana.

No one going out for lobster (or buying it from a fishmonger) should expect anything less. It should BE a once-in-a-lifetime experience that exalts the delicacy of the crustacean.

Why, then, do some chefs chronically overcook it to rubber? One place in town has been doing this for years with whole lobster. As I recently tried to rip through the rubbery flesh with my teeth, I couldn’t imagine what they were thinking or who’s in that kitchen. What a waste.

At other restaurants, I’ve run into a whole fussy list of ingredients in a dish where the lobster comes off as an afterthought. Any kind of pesto in a lobster salad is going to overpower the flavor; this is so basic, I can’t imagine getting it wrong. Yet, chefs persist in turning out these dreadfully, tarted-up creations that positively defile lobster’s goodness.

For heaven’s sake, I wish local chefs (and I hope the guilty parties feel the flush of recognition) wouldtake a cue from Thomas Keller at the French Laundry, who simply butter-poaches lobster. That’s it. When the significant other and I were on Vancouver Island earlier this year, we merely boiled fresh-caught Dungeness crab, another ethereally wonderful crustacean with flesh as delicate as flower petals. That was all it needed. We kept some drawn butter nearby, and occasionally we swiped a piece of the crab through it. But there was simply nothing that could have made it better.

With inherently awesome ingredients of delicate nature, please, less is more. Anyone else been disappointed as I have by lobster recently?

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