Carmen’s Seafood Restaurant in Sea Isle New Jersey, like many of the shore town restaurants, closes for the winter. It makes perfect sense considering the restaurant has no outside walls. (Just a few interior walls like for the kitchen and the restrooms.) To clear out the larder before the season ends, they have a belly-buster, fixed price, all the seafood you can imagine dinner. The idea sounds great in theory, but my belly doesn’t need busting at this point, so we go for the lobster. In particular, the post-Labor Day two lobster lunch special (no sharing allowed.)
We each eat a tail with some French fries and coleslaw at the restaurant, leaving plenty to bring home to make lobster rolls. Carmen’s gives you a bowl of lemon wedges and we’ve found that tossing them in with the leftovers keeps everything smelling fresh the next day.
We’ve had lobster rolls a couple of different ways. One is a warm, buttery filling, the other a chilled, mayonnaise-based salad (like tuna or chicken salad). Today we choose option number two. Our leftover lobsters have been cut and cracked by Carmen’s making it easy to pick out the meat. After picking it out, I feel through it with my fingers, making sure there’s no pieces of shell, then cut it up and place it in a mixing bowl.
Adding ingredients to the lobster bits is at the diner’s discretion. I make it similarly to the way I make tuna salad, with mayonnaise, finely chopped celery and red onion, and seasoned with salt, pepper and Old Bay. We used top split hot dog rolls that I opened flat, buttered, and cooked butter side down in a frying pan for a minute until brown.
Many times, we finish the wine before dinner is ready, but I’m glad we had some Joel Gott Pinot Gris left in the glass to pair with our lobster rolls. Subtle scents of peach and pear on the nose. Melon fruit, mineral, and acidity all nicely balanced on the palate. A squirt of lemon on the lobster roll didn’t sour the wine’s lovely finish.