Photo: StockFood / Tim Hill
"A woman should never be seen eating or drinking, unless it be lobster salad and Champagne, the only true feminine and becoming viands.” Thus spake British poet Lord Byron. Although Byron was born in 1788, lobster has maintained its prestige for the last 226 years. But although lobster is still often summoned in the same breath as caviar, foie gras, and filet mignon, it’s possible its rosy time in the spotlight is coming to a close.
For goodness, a lady—even one of no social standing whatsoever—can now acquire lobster salad viands at Quiznos. Its tails are available to munch on at the Golden Corral, a chain of dining establishments whose slogan is “Help Yourself to Happiness.” The Wall Street Journal reports that in a “rare dynamic in today’s food world, supply of lobster is plentiful and pushing down prices.”
It’s hard to tell whether Byron would have been pleased or horrified by this turn of events. (Will Quiznos soon offer Champagne, too?) Apparently the supply of cantankerous crustaceans is growing because: “Warming water in recent years may be boosting lobster population. Fishermen are following regulations that protect young and egg-bearing lobsters. And there has been a decline in recent decades of natural predators such as cod, which eat baby lobsters.”
Fantastic! Er, forgive us, lobstermen and lobsterwomen. We realize that—since the glut began—it has driven down prices, meaning you fine seafaring folks are not making bank the way you once were. The WSJ says Maine fishermen are netting “$3 per pound, down from a high of $4.63 in 2005.” But that means more lobster for the rest of us, making everyone, including dead poets, happy.
It’s true that the trickle-down lobster-nomics doesn’t always work as well as we’d like; high-end restaurants in particular tend not to slash their prices. But in the meantime, we’ll find lobster on the cheap where we can, eating more of it—although maybe not at Quiznos—and making this lobster mac and cheese by Ina Garten as soon as possible.
Because, well, lobster!
[via The Wall Street Journal]
Lobster Mac and Cheese
1 pound cavatappi or elbow macaroni
1 quart milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
3. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. In a large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and lobster and stir well. Place the mixture in 6 to 8 individual gratin dishes.
4. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.