Otherwise known as the frozen, puckered butthole of the culinary world.
Sandwiched between the Rocky Mountains and the equally frozen and buttholish prairies of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Alberta is an interesting place.
After the methodical eradication of the indigenous peoples and culture, Alberta was mainly settled by various hardy European cultures who brought with them potatoes, Catholicism, and civilization. And here within lies the problem… Have you ever celebrated Ukrainian New Years before?
Well if you haven’t, let me paint a picture in your mind. Pickled herring. Potatoes. Bread. Cabbage. Sadness and despair brought on by centuries of bitter winter and war. This is the foundation upon which Edmonton, Alberta has built its gastronomic profile.
Originally known for potatoes, perogies, potatoes, sauerkraut, potatoes, beef, and potatoes, Edmonton has gone through a vast change in the past decade. With the magic of trickle-down economics and stupid amounts of oil money, we now have a horde of nouveau riche willing to spend money on gigantic lifted pickup trucks, facial tattoos, and nice food. So the enterprising Edmontonian chefs worked with what they knew, and the Edmonton culinary scene was born. With microgreens, balsamic glaze and the most pretentious of dirty hipster wait staff, these new restaurants took Edmontonians by storm.
The oil rig bourgeois, so used to potatoes and boiled meats, now have a choice! A drizzle of truffle oil! Fancy French words that they don’t know! Italics in menus! Unable to contain themselves, they flocked to these new restaurants in droves. However, incapable of distinguishing between a roux and a sack of bricks, they were lost in this strange new culinary world.
Whatever could they do?
I don’t want to look uncultured in front of my friends – they thought..
If I say it tastes bad, does this mean I have the palate of a vulture? – they mused..
And so they thought of the perfect idea…
IT’S AMAZING, they exclaimed in unison, each unwilling to appear uncivilized in front of their friends. Glowing reviews were posted onto Yelp and the most Urban of Spoons, regardless of the actual quality or taste of the food. Trendy decor, music ripped from 8tracks stoner playlists, and waitresses with half their head shaved were all that restaurants needed to charge $40 for a plate of quinoa and cat vomit.
And that, my friends, is how Edmonton’s restaurant scene came to be.
Now where do I come into the picture?
Well, for the most part, I’m going to go to overpriced, “trendy” restaurants and (if warranted) bitch incessantly about the poor quality of the food and bad service.
When I’m not bitching about food. I may talk about things. Life. Existential Crises. Music. You know, things.
And as I read on a bottle of barbeque sauce one time, “If you like to eat, you learn to cook”.
So I’m going to cook.
What better to start off a food blog than a live sacrifice to the pagan gods of food?
I killed a lobster.
Here’s how I did it:
Serves 4 – Total time 1 hour
1, 2-2.5 pound lobster, preferably live
1 fistful of tarragon, finely chopped
1 fistful of thyme sprigs, de-leafed (you want the leaves)
1 fistful of parsley, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup white wine
1.5 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 cups 35% cream
4 large canned san marzano tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons olive oil
750 grams of fettuccine
Salt and pepper to season
Now to make food.
To start, here’s a picture of most of the ingredients (got lazy, don’t judge me).
The lobster came from our local fishmonger (read: Superstore) and was fairly lively, even after being bagged for 2 hours. The beer was there to calm my nerves.
Just kidding. I just wanted a beer.
Get a big pot and boil 3/4’s of a pot of salted water. Once the water is at a rolling boil, chant something ominous sounding in latin and dunk that sucker in head first. Try not to think about the life you are snuffing out of existence. Let the lobster boil for 10-12 minutes depending on size.
After boiling, place in large pot of cold/iced water to stop cooking process. Let cool for 5 minutes.
Now for the hard part.
We need to remove the actual edible lobster bits from the lobster shell itself. I did so with a pair of pliers and the blunt side of a meat cleaver. If you have some sort of lobster shell cracker, good for you, I didn’t.
Once all the meat has been removed from the tail, claw and arms, chop meat into bite sized chunks and set aside.
Scoop the green viscera out of the lobster body and discard. Chop the shells into 1.5 inch chunks and saute in deep pot with the olive oil for 3-4 minutes at medium high heat.
Add white wine and deglaze for 1 minute.
Add tomatoes and tomato paste, stir 1 minute.
Add all herbs, garlic, white wine vinegar, stir 1 minute.
Now if all goes as planned, your pot should look something like this:
Here’s where the path to lobster pasta may diverge. Depending on your tolerance for extremely goddamn creamy things, you may want to simmer the sauce for different amounts of time.
Personally, I made a mistake and wanted a thicker sauce, so I let the sauce simmer for 40 minutes uncovered on low heat. This produced a velvety concoction, but I’m pretty sure I gave myself high cholesterol.
To avoid my fate, try simmering for 20 minutes covered, or use half and half cream.
Now boil the pasta. Salt and oil the water. The salt flavors the pasta. The oil.. well I saw Jamie Oliver do it once, so why not.
Strain the shells out of the sauce, mix lobster chunks in sauce at low heat for 3-4 minutes, and toss with pasta (in the pot).
Serve with some crusty bread, the same wine you cooked it with (because let’s be honest, why would you open another bottle of wine) and some antacids for dessert.
If all goes well, it should look something like this:
So the question is, how did it taste?
Well. The flavor was nice. The shells imparted a nice delicate lobster flavor into the sauce, which was only improved by the actual lobster itself. As a note, always err on the side of undercooking a lobster instead of overcooking (you can always finish cooking in the sauce afterwards).
Anyhow.. the tarragon and thyme are definitely noticeable and the san marzano tomatoes give it a nice tang. But the one thing I cannot get over is how incredibly goddamned creamy this was. It’s almost like the noodles were covered in lobster flavored cream cheese. See that picture up there? Yeah, that’ll probably feed a family of four, or a small Latvian village.
Would I make it again?
Maybe? To impress a date that’s super out of my league and into Italian food?
Why is lobster even considered romantic anyways?
“Oh yeah, we’re having freshly murdered spiny sea beast for dinner tonight!”
It boggles the mind.
All in all, not a bad way to eat a lobster… or to start a blog!