Growing up playing soccer allowed to me to travel all around the country for games, tournaments, and camps, . My dear parents carted me all over the place; from Buffalo to Orlando, Dallas to San Diego, I was very lucky to see a lot of the country that I otherwise would not have. While on these trips, I also got a taste for the different foods around the country. Authentic guacamole and tacos in Texas, barbecue in North Carolina, seafood in San Diego, and the mother of all: lobster in Maine. This is the trip that stands out in my mind the most. Our team had won the Virginia State Title and was going on to the Regional Championship. The tournament rotated host sites every two years and as fate would allow it, the great city of Portland was chosen. The trip was not only the best soccer-wise (we won and went on to Nationals), the best scenic-wise (breathtaking shores and sailing), but stands out in my mind as the best food trip of my young life. I absolutely fell in love with the state of Maine. Sadly, I have yet to return. In a perfect world I’ll one day own a small cottage somewhere on the rocky shore. I’ll learn how to sail, and fish, and clam, heck, ask my sister, I love clamdiggers. I’ll shuck oysters from the deck for breakfast, eat lobster rolls on the picnic table for lunch, and dip tails and claws in drawn butter for dinner. One day.
I digress…the purpose of this post is to rehash my love affair with lobster and lobster rolls. It all began in Maine. And there, as a good lobster roll should, has stayed in Maine. After the games, we’d sit at picnic tables and benches, nothing fancy, and gobble down lobster rolls stuffed to the brim with fresh lobster meat. Toasted, lightly buttered buns, and a delicate mayonnaise base, not too much, just enough so that the lobster really shined. I’d never had anything like it. We’d venture around the city and wind up at a seaside shack eating whole lobsters for dinner. Tables right on the water, bibs to preserve your shirt when the butter dripped, paper napkins, and a 2 lb lobster all to yourself. You could taste the ocean, they were that fresh.
Ever since that week of lobster heaven, I’ve been fantasizing about the next time I’ll have lobster like that. I’ve tried. I’ve had lobster at fancy restaurants, I’ve tried to recreate the experience, but nothing compares. Jackson’s in Reston Towne Center has a pretty mean lobster roll that I insist on eating every time I visit my parents, and it’s good, real good. But nothing compares to real and true Maine lobster.
So, when I read about the DC Lobster Truck last year, I knew I had to have it. Last Christmas I just missed it. By the time I got home, they were done for the year, off on their holiday. Not this time.
I was giddy as we got out of the car in Ballston and headed towards to truck (location updates from their twitter feed) that I almost started skipping. Or maybe I did skip.I smiled at the line. I wanted the full experience. I would have waited hours. We ordered our meals: 5 Maine lobster rolls with Cape Cod chips and authentic Maine Root Soda. An Allagash brew would have been nice, but I’ll take it. We headed over to a park bench and it felt like Christmas morning, unwrapping presents, except it was a lobster roll. Same thing in my book.Big hunks of sweet, juicy, lobster meat, tossed in an ever so light lemon mayo, piled high on a warm, toasted, buttered bun. This was it, I was there; Portland, Maine. Except I was on a park bench in Arlington, Virginia. But seriously, minus the salty, sea breeze and fresh coastal air, if I closed my eyes and held my breath and just tasted that roll I could have been at any picnic table in Maine. While there’s definitely not a substitute for the experience of sitting seaside at a true Maine lobster shack, Red Hook Lobster truck does it right. The bun is perfectly toasted and just buttered enough to give it a nice toasty crunch. They’re not trying to hide anything here, the lobster speaks for itself. Whole claws hang out of the sides of the bun, tender and succulent. The combination is delicious perfection.
I thought I’d be satisfied, but eating that lobster roll only made me want to go back even more. If you aren’t lucky enough to have ever eaten the deliciousness that is a Maine lobster roll and happen to live in the DC area, catch Red Hook Lobster Pound’s food truck(s) (they have 2 now) to get yourself a taste of New England’s best.