Did you ever give any thought to your “death row meal?” What would you request as your “special meal” on your last day just prior to execution? Second only to Mom’s Christmas dinner, mine would be a Maine lobster, fresh out of boiling sea water. Nobody does this better than Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound in Trenton, Maine, a 50+ year old family business that proudly proclaims, “We aren’t fancy, just traditionally tasteful!”
As you approach Mount Desert Island, location of Acadia National Park, just before you cross the Trenton Bridge, you can see the smoke billowing out of the six wood-fired cookers. On evenings and weekends, you will also recognize it by the row of cars lining both sides of the road, overflow from the parking lot.
The line forms in front of the cooler, where you pick out your victim of choice based on size and “new versus hard shell.” The new shells are cheaper, a little sweeter and more tender, but given that the new shell is typically much larger than the meat, you can end up paying for a lot of water inside the shell. I typically opt for a 2 pound hard shell, or a 2.5 new shell.
Once the little bugger has been weighed, they stuff him into a mesh bag, then drop into the boiling sea water over a wood burning fire outside. Although the aroma is intoxicating, I prefer not to watch, but instead, immerse myself in denial over a plate of “steamers,” or steamed clams dipped in melted butter while I wait.
Eating lobster has become a fun ritual for me. It took me some time to realize that the sweetest parts are hidden…sort of like a culinary treasure hunt. I first start with the “arms,” working my way down to the claws one by one, followed by sucking the meat out of all five sets of “straws,” or legs. Then, I crack open the body where all the really sweet meat is hiding amongst the cartilage, if you have the patience to look. Finally, reserving the best for last, I pop out the tail. This is most easily achieved by breaking off the middle fin of the flipper, sticking your thumb through the small hole and popping the tail out the wider end. This is the bittersweet point where I savor every bite, knowing the end of my favorite meal is near.
At Trenton Bridge you eat out of metal roasting pans on picnic tables, either inside or outside. It’s “BYOB” so be sure to stop at the Exxon station down the road to pick up a couple of Shipyard Ales. Something about getting lost in lobster while watching the sun set overlooking the bay makes this guilty pleasure taste even that much better.