Posts tagged ‘lobster pound’

May 3, 2009

Soft vs. Hard Shell Lobster? The Final Word.

View from my favorite lobster pound

View from my favorite lobster pound

Every time I go to Acadia National Park to hike, bike, and kayak, my vacation itinerary includes a trip to a lobster pound.  OK, often two.  So here, after much research, is the point-of-view of this New Yorker on the soft vs. hard shell lobster debate.

Here are the two sides.  Fans of soft shell lobsters claim they are sweeter and easier to eat because they can be cracked by hand.  Lovers of hard shells point to more meat and a firmer consistency.

Let’s draw on a little science about Homarus americanus.  Lobsters shed their shells (or molt) throughout their lives.  After they grow a new shell inside the old one, they drink a lot of water which expands their body size and infuses the new shell, causing it to expand and break the old one.  The new shell is softer.  While it hardens, there’s a layer of seawater that helps insulate the lobster’s body.

And, to me, that’s the insight.  The seawater acts as kind of a secret marinating agent to make the meat of the soft shell lobster undeniably sweeter.  It’s more tender and delectable.

So, if taste is your priority, order a soft shell.  But keep in mind two other considerations.  First, eating a soft shell lobster is a messier process.  When you crack it open, be prepared for the torrent of “marinating liquid” to spew forth! The other negative is a soft shell will have relatively less meat for the same poundage. Lower prices will compensate for this, but you must remember to order a larger size.  Thurston’s Lobster Pound on Mount Desert Island recommends at least a quarter of a pound more.

You are not likely to get a soft shell lobster in a New York restaurant or delivered by mail because hard shells are more durable for shipping.  So, if you are on Mount Desert Island at the end of the summer, which is the molting season for that part of New England, the choice should be clear. A soft shell lobster is a special seasonal treat if you’re lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

lobsterMount Desert Island in Maine is home not only to Acadia National Park, but to harborside  villages, charming inns, wonderful antiquing, and topnotch spas.  Activities, especially hiking, biking, kayaking, and sailing, abound.  And, since Maine is the state of both farmers and fishermen, the restaurants are great. To read about my favorites, including several lobster pounds, visit OUR ACADIA.

 

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When the Best Maine Lobster Roll Isn’t a Roll at All

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June 15, 2008

What is a “lobster pound”? Why have I only heard this term around Acadia National Park?

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June 3, 2008

When’s a good time to visit Acadia National Park?

 

Springtime Rhodora on Bernard MountainAs many people visit Acadia National Park in September and October as in May and June, according to National Park data.  I’ve biked and kayaked in the park in the fall.  I hosted a memorable Thanksgiving in Mount Desert in 2006.  I’ve even dipped into Somes Sound for seawater for boiling lobsters during a visit in January. 

 

Want the pro’s and con’s month by month?  Click here.

 

But now let me tell you the wondrous reason to visit Acadia National Park in May: it lets you turn back the clock.

 

Being here in Maine always lets you turn back the clock.  The pace is more “normal.”  People seem less willing to sell their souls for the almighty buck, as my dad would say.  They even close the stores at 5pm on Sundays during a holiday weekend.

 

But the real reason for anyone from New York or Boston or Philadelphia to visit Acadia National Park in May is that you get to experience the early spring we luxuriated in four or five weeks ago…again.  The lilac.  The apple blossoms.  Maybe even a glimpse of forsythia.  Leaves are still in that about-to-spring moment.  The mountains are deep spruce mixed with that giddy lime-yellow green that only means spring.  And there are flowers, like the rhodora, we never saw during New York City’s spring.  Come to Acadia National Park in May and enjoy spring twice in the same year.

 

You’ll find many areas of the park blissfully quiet if you stay the week after Memorial Day.  Organize your hikes to avoid the crowds.  We made the mistake of doing Gorham Mountain on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend and were punished with having to listen to the conversations of other hikers.  So, on Monday we took off to the “quiet side” of the island and hiked the Western Ledge Trail up Bernard Mountain and found a heavenly waterfall and pool when we came down Sluiceway. (We heard something louder and steadier than the wind in the trees off to the east.  We went off trail and made this delightful discovery.)  When visitors returned to work on Tuesday, we hiked the Gorge Trail up to Dorr, crossed east to Cadillac, and came down the Cadillac North Ridge Trail to where we had left our bikes, which we then rode back to the car parked at the Gorge trailhead.  We saw a porcupine at the top of Cadillac, which never would have been “out” in July or August.  We’d never climb Cadillac then either.

 

I remember businesses in the Hamptons being pretty ramped up for Memorial Day.  Not so in Acadia National Park.  “Pre-season” here means that most of the antique shops in Bernard were closed the short week after Labor Day.  Only two restaurants in Southwest Harbor were open on Monday night. Twice during the week restaurants we were eager to go to were closed for private parties.  So, if you want to come in May or June to take advantage of Acadia’s quiet time, I recommend renting a house so that you can cook at home a couple of nights and then plan your nights-out closer to the weekend, when they are more likely to be open.  And the best news is:  Thurston’s Lobster Pound is open!

 

Want to avoid the crowds on a big holiday weekend in Acadia National Park?  Here are 7 tips to help ensure your serenity.

 

Thinking about a particular month for a visit to Acadia?  Click here for an assessment, including temperature ranges and tips from locals.