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the tale of tristan lobster

once upon a time, my cheese and wine shop, Food n’ Fermentations, was located right next door to my best foodie friend’s seafood restaurant, Surfs!Up…there we spent many hours researching the perfect wine pairings for his menu…during that time he told grand tales about this lobster that was the greatest of them all, coming from a land far, far away, it’s firm texture and sweet taste unsurpassed by none…then finally one day this fantasy crustacean was actually delivered to my door, a culinary dream had come true…this succulent lobster would no longer be just a fairy tale

globe highlighting where the island of Tristan is located

this story all begins in the pristine, frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean where the volcanic islands of the Tristan da Cunha archipelago jut out, well over 1500 miles west of Cape Town, South Africa…here the rock lobster do not eat off the bottom sediment, they enjoy a predominately vegetarian diet resulting in pearly white meat that is renowned as the best in the world

a couple hundred people reside on the U.K. governed island, the majority of them working to maintain the well managed and sustainable lobster industry…there is no airstrip, it is only accessible by boat, the weeklong journey and inclement weather limits visits to only nine times a year...the harvest has to be flash-frozen upon catch to ensure the freshest of taste and aroma once it arrives to you

paper with red and white logo of tristan lobster

you can now understand why the quality of this lobster is superior and why it is more difficult to obtain…check your sources to make sure you are getting Tristan, every tail will be individually wrapped with paper embossed with the bright red logo, certification that it truly came from the remote island of Tristan da Cunha

my first experience was certainly a connoisseur’s delight, there was no fishy smell or mushy meat, it was a taste of deep ocean water with a firm white flesh that absorbed the melted butter for a sublimely unctuous bite…as the years passed, I often wondered if it was just the anticipation and rareness that made it seem that much better, was it really that good…that doubt was finally going to be tested as I discovered a new supplier that had Tristans in stock

tray with smoked salmon and shot glasses of vodka shots

so, with my Surfs!Up friend, we once again had the opportunity to reminisce and share this delicacy…a smoked salmon board and vodka cocktail teased our palates as we anticipated the serving of the main attraction…with the frozen tails thawed from the evening before, we began the preparation...the best way to cook lobster tails in my opinion, is to butterfly and bake…boiling diminishes the flavor, grilling and broiling tends to dry out the meat

using kitchen shears, cut the top part of the shell lengthwise, starting from the exposed meat side, cutting down to just before the tail fin…remove the dark vein if present…crack open the shell like a book…starting at the wide base of the tail, run your fingers between the meat and shell to release it but be sure you still leave it attached to the tail end…carefully lift the meat up, close the shell, then lay the meat on top of the shell

place the tails in a baking dish, adding a small amount of water to help gently steam the meat…bake at 425 degrees for approximately a minute per ounce, the shell will turn red due and the meat turns from translucent to opaque and is firm to the touch

brush generously with melted unsalted butter, sprinkle with paprika…you can put it under the broiler for a couple of minutes if you like a little glaze on top

dinner plate with cooked lobster, butter warmers, along with a side plate of caesar salad

as soon as he opened the oven door we knew we had a treat ahead of us

simply prepared to preserve the delicate flavor, the pillow of lobster was everything I remembered it to be, if not maybe just a little bit better…an occasional dip into the butter, a sip of chardonnay, followed by a crisp bite of caesar salad, it was a meal worthy of the wait

the dining room was silent as we immersed ourselves in the ambrosia before us, as my husband said, all you could hear was an occasional yummy sound…we leaned back in our chairs wearing a grin that only comes after a gratifying experience

after this feast we all lived happily ever after…

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