I went to Boston this past spring because I had been listening to a lot of Joan Baez and going to Boston in the springtime seemed like the thing to do. No, actually I went to Boston to visit M and her lovely husband A at their digs in Cambridge, where A was completing a fancy degree at that fancy college there. Now he can join the legions of people who, upon being queried where they went to graduate school, can say “A school outside of Boston?” The trick is raise your voice at the end, so it sound like a question. Nobody can be sour grapes about what a rock star you are if you make your answer sound like a question. That is my tip for you, dearest A.
M knew that one of my biggest gripes about my landlocked existence this year was the dearth of lovely seafood available in Indiana. So our first stop was Alive and Kicking Lobsters (269 Putnam Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, 617.876.0451, http://www.aliveandkickinglobsters.com), a no-frills seafood shop and lobster-sandwich purveyor that was dangerously close to M and A’s apartment. I say “dangerously close” because if someone with the non-existent willpower of yours truly lived nearby she would probably eat there every single day. I hate it when you order a lobster roll and they skimp on the lobster, or mix in Pollack, or give you a sandwich that is 90% mayonnaise or bread. I would say that Alive and Kicking makes a damn perfect lobster sandwich, with an unearthly amount of sweet fresh meat, a little herbal kick (tarragon?), locally-baked scali bread, and just enough mayo to keep the whole thing moist. Paired with some salty chips and lovely picnic table seating outside, and you’ve got yourself a pretty awesome local place, should you find yourself in “Cambridge?”
I was also starved for some good-old-fashioned unclean eatin’, so M took me out to get a bivalve fix at the Island Creek Oyster Bar (500 Commonweath Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, 617.532.5300, islandcreekoysterbar.com). One of what appears to be a growing trend of restaurants that own the farms where their oysters are grown, Island Creek is a serious destination for oyster-lovers (and is priced accordingly). I was able to sample a variety of lovely gems, including the namesake Island Creek oysters grown by Skip Bennett in Duxbury, MA and Stephen Wright’s babies from Chatham, MA. All of this was paired with a lovely bottle of Grüner Veltinger, which M and I had independently decided is the ultimate oyster-pairing wine. The climax of the evening, however, was sampling my first ever Belon oyster (grown in Maine). M described eating a Belon as “basically like taking a big bite out of a zinc countertop,” and I’d have to concur with her assessment. Oyster-lover I may be, but I don’t think I’ll be buying any more of those metallic little suckers anytime soon.
But we weren’t done! Oh no, we were definitely not done in Clarence’s crusade to eat every single crustacean and bivalve on the eastern seaboard. Graciously, A took a day off from work the week before finals (!) and the three of us drove up to Rockport, Massachusetts for ocean gazing, beach walking, and knickknack shopping. Scenery aside, our main objective was lunch at Roy Moore Lobster Co. (39 Bearskin Neck, Rockport, MA 01966, 978.546.6696). If you’ve ever watched a Red Lobster commercial late at night and felt an elemental pang of longing for the red flea (not from Red Lobster, obviously, but these commercials do seem to be my trigger), this is your Valhalla. Lunch was stuffed clams, smoked salmon with horseradish cream, freshly-shucked Wellfleet oysters, and the two most beautiful lobsters I’ve ever seen, all for a price that made me say “No seriously, how much did that actually cost?!”
Eaten outside while staring out over fishing boats and hundreds of lobster traps, it was the kind of Ur-experience of a lobster shack, and something I would happily cross off of my bucket list if I had such a thing. I don’t, but if you do, definitely add “Eat lobsters at an old-school New England lobster shack with your best friends.” It’s definitely worth the trip.