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Grocery Store Bingo and a New England Lobster Bake for 100


July 9, 2012

The lobsters we were eating on Saturday had been in the water the day before, and the taste was absolutely exquisite accordingly.

“Duh-ya-wanna-enta-thuh-Shaws-prize-contest?”, mumbled the teenage cashier at the local grocery store, hip cocked to one side, doing her best to make sure everyone around her knew just how cool she was, and how uncool she thinks being a grocery checkout girl is.

“Excuse me?”, I asked, having only caught about every third word amidst her smacking gum, thick Boston accent, and general disdain for all around her.


“I’m sorry, what?”

Realizing she had a foreigner in her midst, she sighed impatiently, shifted to her other hip, and began explaining it to me, slowly, as though I didn’t speak her language, which I suppose in a way, I don’t. “It’s like thuh stupidest thing ya eva heard of. You get tickets wheneva ya buy groceries and then you try and put them on a board. Maybe ya win something…but I gotta a ton ah tickets at home and I haven’t won anything yet. Dun think they give out the winning tickets until August or sumpa stupid like that. I’m a hoping to win the cahr…my Jeep only a gets like 15 miles puh gallon so I could really use it.”

“Oh…like grocery store Bingo?”, I asked, still confused, and trying to hide my smile at the honesty and intimacy she was sharing.

“Yah, like grocery stahr bingo…that’s it.”

“Well, I live in Seattle, so I don’t think the tickets will do me much good. Would you like to have my tickets though? Up your chances for the car?” I asked, still chuckling at the idea of a town wide grocery store bingo, loving this teenage girl, and wondering what the homies on Rainier would think if we imported this to the left coast.

“Nah, we associates got our own league…it’s like even stupid-aher, freaking impossible. Paper or plastic?”


Lobster Bakes and Clambakes are ubiquitous with the Northshore…right up there with grocery store bingo, pink (I mean salmon) shorts, crazy drivers, beautiful homes bought with old money, and an insatiable desire for gossip.

With July temperatures easily reaching 90, and humidity making your hair look like you never thought possible, it makes sense that casual summer events where the cooking takes place outside, and exquisite ingredients stand on their own, would be top of the list.

Beautiful oysters on the half-shell, also pulled just hours before we ate them and offering the freshest, crispest taste of the sea.

My brother Ben, who is one of the most generous people I know and just generally a hell of a good guy, has for multiple years hosted a Lobster Bake-Clambake-Oyster Fest of epic proportion. This year’s made all other years pale in comparison with 137 lbs of lobster caught by my Uncle Jeff, a renowned Cape Cod Lobsterman, as the headliner, and a bushel each of mussels and clams, and 150 of some of the best oysters you’ve ever had playing backup.

Lobsters were cooked all day, bacon cheddar burgers were grilled all night, Mussels Meuniere for 50 provided the perfect appetizer, steamer clams with dill, butter, and beer got gobbled up, oysters on the half shell got slurped down, and many laughs were had while enjoying Ipswich’s famous local libations of Ipswich Ale and Turkey Shore Distillery.

A barrel of rum from Turkey Shore Distillery, perfect with a boot of Root Beer from the Tapmobile.

The Tapmobile, featuring different Ipswich Ales, and the best root beer you’ve ever tasted.

My only regret, and the sting was sharp this morning as I flew the 3,000 miles back across the country at 4a PST, was that I wouldn’t be having a lobster roll for lunch today.

New England Lobster Bake
Serves 100

Ever wondered what 137 lbs of lobster looks like?

  • 137 lbs hard shell lobsters, boiled, and kept warm in coolers.
    • To boil, bring a large pot of water to a boil over a propane boiler outside. Once boiling, plunge lobsters into the water. Cook 5 minutes for the first pound and an additional 3 minutes  for each additional pound. Lobster is cooked when the shell is entirely red. Lobster will keep warm in coolers for multiple hours.
  • 1 bushel steamer clams, well rinsed, and steamed with beer, dill, and butter.
    • In a large pot (same as you used for the lobsters if you like), add 1 gallon light beer, 1 stick of butter, and 1 cup of dill. Bring to a boil, add the steamers, and cook until all shells are open. Transfer to a cooler to keep warm and strain the broth for dipping.
  • 1 bushel mussels, well rinsed, and cooked as Mussels Meuniere
    • In a large pot, add 2 bottles of white wine, 1 stick of butter, 10 shallots, finely diced, 2 cups parsley. Bring to a boil, add the mussels, and cook until all shells are open. Transfer to a cooler to keep warm and strain the broth for dipping.
  • 150 oysters, schucked
    • Serve on the half shell on a bed of ice, with assorted toppings such as lemon wedges, horseradish, and Tabasco.
  • 10 lbs butter, melted and kept warm


  1. OMG Erina, this just sounds like unbelievable fun!!

    • Erina says:

      It was the best!! Alas, 10 days of vacation must come to a close and now I’m back to reality. Lucky for me, Seattle has decided to show up for summer so it’s a much easier transition than it would be if 50 and raining!

  2. Libby says:

    Yummm. Those look like Wellfleet oysters!

    • Erina says:

      Good eye Libby…they very well might be! My uncle is out of Orleans. One of my favorite restaurants in Wellfleet is the Wicked Oyster in fact. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Maman says:

    In support of Gourmet Erina’s acknowledgment…..oysters were Wellfleet
    gems, tricky to open (as all oysters are) but well worth the trouble.
    Thanks for posting these accounts, truly a recipe for family fun!

    • Erina says:

      So they were Wellfleet oysters! That Libby has a good eye. And my, my, were they delicious. As I nibbled my stupid airport vending machine muffin on Sunday morning all I could think of was lobster salad and oysters on the half-shell. Le sigh…..

  4. Des says:

    I am not sure what it is but I have always wanted to go to New England and enjoy a lobster bake. I’ve never been to that area of the country, but it has always seemed like it would be really fun. So much history and not to mention good food. I want to do the lobster bake thing and visit during the fall to see the leaves 🙂

    • Erina says:

      Des, you absolutely must! It is funny how different it is from the West Coast…something I really underestimated when I moved here 7+ (gasp!) years ago. Fall foliage + good eats would be just the ticket. When you decide let me know and I’ll give you all the insider spots. 🙂

      In the meantime, perhaps we need to have an East Coast Inspired Food Blogger clambake this summer of something!

  5. Ann Mah says:

    I thought I’d had my fill of lobstah during my own vacation last week on Cape Cod. Now I realized that I seriously missed out on a lobster bake! This sounds like so much fun!

    • Erina says:

      It was a hell of a lot of lobstah, that’s for sure! Just read about your trip on your sounds so wonderful! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Erica says:

    Lobsters, clams, and mussels…oh my! Looks like vacay was fabu!

  7. SunnyD says:

    Wow–a huge task, but obviously well worth it! I loved our time in New England in 2009 and there is nothing on this earth better than seafood fresh from the source. I’m gearing up for crab season now 🙂

    • Erina says:

      Thanks Sunny! It was indeed a treat, and you’re so right…when you start eating really good local, fresh food it’s hard to go back. Crab season in Seattle isn’t too shabby either though! What’s your favorite way to prepare them?

      • SunnyD says:

        Like you, I love a good bake. Simply boiled up with tons of Old Bay, corn on the cob, potatoes and sausage, then throw it all on a table and let people go for it! I like to clean the crab first, then you just cook up a mess of legs. We did this during our weekend-long wedding on the last day, it was so much fun and gave our out-of-town family a chance to enjoy some crab before heading back to the desert.

  8. […] This past year was a good one…full of wiggly foster puppies, recharging trips to the Coast, indulgent lobster bakes for the masses, and quiet days at […]

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