August may be racing past way too quickly and fall may be approaching far too fast for us folks in Maine. But I'm not quite ready to turn my thoughts ahead to a new school year (sorry, kids!), a new football season (YES!) or raking up autumn leaves (ugh) just yet. Instead, I'm focusing on the present. August, after all, is Maine Lobster Month.
According to the Maine Department of Marine Resources, the state's 2013 lobster landings hit 125.95 million pounds — the second highest total notched since the state and NMFS began keeping records — worth $364 million. That's a $22 million increase over the 2012 value and up $30 million from 2011.
The average ex-vessel price per pound paid to Maine lobstermen rose 20 cents from $2.69 to $2.89 last year. Even so, it was the second lowest price seen since 1995.
The department's report on Maine's 2013 landings notes that the low dock price underscores the importance of the work the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative is doing to promote lobster sales and consumption. The collaborative, which was established last year, replaces the Maine Lobster Promotion Council. Maine lobstermen, dealers and processors fund its marketing and promotion efforts, which aim to increase global demand for Homarus americanus.
It's hoped that adding in-state lobster processing capacity will bolster prices for soft-shell lobster. Developing value-added product forms that will broaden its appeal to restaurant chefs and younger seafood lovers could further increase lobster demand — and with any luck, ex-vessel prices, too.
There's no lack of creativity happening when it comes to preparing lobster dishes. I suspect that when most people think lobster, what comes to mind is boiling up bugs at home, cracking them open, extracting their sweet-flavored meat and dipping it in butter before popping it into their mouths.
Others may prefer a lobster roll. Several years ago, when my parents were visiting from Florida, my mom was determined to get a lobster roll at Red's Eats in Wiscasset. We waited in line for over an hour for the privilege, and were rewarded with toasted lobster rolls loaded with meat. It was well worth the wait.
But restaurant chefs are getting mighty creative with lobster dishes. An article in the Bangor (Maine) Daily News highlights eight of the most unique lobster dishes being served in Maine restaurants. Lobster dumplings, fried lobster tails and lobster tacos are just a few of the mouthwatering offerings the article presents.
And that's just the tip of the lobster-cooking iceberg. The marketing collaborative's website boasts a plethora of recipes lobster lovers can whip up at home. They'll find recipes there for whatever they crave — appetizers, breakfast dishes, dinner entrees, salads, soups and more. And cooking buffs can explore professional recipes that restaurant chefs have submitted.
So whether they opt for a simple boiled lobster or Braised Maine Lobster with Black Truffle Risotto Cake and Verjus Crème Fraiche, lobster afficianados should be able to find a dish that can help them celebrate Maine Lobster Month in fine style.