I could have included this one in my post on Burlington, but since it was my very first experience I thought you'd want all the juicy details. I've been reading for years about driving up the coast of New England (funny how it's always driving up, not down, isn't it?) and stopping in one little town or another at the local lobster shack. It's always a game of one-upmanship about who has the best this or the freshest that, and the stick the writers use to measure one against the other is almost invariably the quality of the lobster roll. Needless to say I've wanted to have one of these for years and have never had the opportunity.
So when the in-laws suggested running to nearby Essex Junction for some lobster roll action, I was all, "Are we there yet?" even though I'd had lunch earlier. Lobster rolls are pretty simple concoctions, basically a white bread roll stuffed with chopped lobster that's been dressed with mayonnaise. Some seem to have more dressing or less, but that's pretty much as complicated as a good roll should get.
Ray's Seafood Market goes along with this formula in its approach to lobster rolls and just about everything else as well. You walk in, go over to the cash register next to the two cases full of very fresh-looking seafood (including four kinds of clams and four lobster tanks), order your food, then go get a booth at the other end of the place. Most people seem to order take-out, probably because Ray's doesn't serve alcohol and their interior designer probably died sometime after WWII, having achieved his design apotheosis with the icy blue walls and diner layout of Ray's.
When they call your number and you go up to get your food, the magic of Ray's kicks in. One bite of the lobster roll and your mouth is filled with the cool sumptuousness of the chunks of lobster in their mayonnaisey blanket. Served with forgettable baked fries on the side, I could have easily eaten three of these they were so good. Now I understand the obsession with finding the perfect lobster roll. And I'm ready to take up the mantle and start my own quest!
Details: Ray's Seafood Market, 7 Pinecrest Dr., Essex Junction, VT. Phone 802-879-3611.
Read the rest of the posts in this series: Da Big Cheese!, Burlington and Environs, Twig on a Branch, Muddling Through Middlebury and Cheese and Community.