From M.E. to You

RealMaineFood_CoverLuke’s Lobster started with a “shack” in the East Village, catering to New Englanders—and those blessed with the fine taste of New Englanders—in New York. Helmed by president Luke Holden (of Cape Elizabeth, Maine) and vice-president Ben Conniff, Luke’s Lobster serves tasty, undressed rolls to cities that drown in extras (like, well, mayonnaise), direct from the coast of Maine.

With the success of 15 or so shacks, Conniff and Holden have teamed to present Real Maine Food: 100 Plates from Fishermen, Farmers, Pie Champs, and Clam Shacks (Rizzoli), which opens with an invitation: “To understand Maine’s cuisine, you need to get familiar with the state’s favorite crustacean, Homarus americanus. These shelled creatures provide a low-fat source of protein, Omega-3 oils, zinc, and selenium, and have no more cholesterol than white-meat chicken. All that, and they’re the most delicious food on the planet.”

Real Maine Food features a hundred recipes, with some resembling those on the menu at Luke’s Lobster: crab rolls, lobster rolls, and shrimp rolls as well as grilled cheese and New England Clam Chowder. “I  traveled all over the state, from the Clam Shack in Kennebunkport to the Bouchard Family buckwheat farm, at the northernmost tip of the state in Fort Kent,” says Conniff of the process—which included taste test after taste test.
“I spent a lot of time around Skowhegan, a once struggling inland factory town experiencing a rebirth as a food hub, and downeast on a historic fishing schooner in Penobscot Bay or a smelt fry in Columbia Falls.” And for this, Real Maine Food is authentic: an embodiment of the ethos of Luke’s Lobster.

Their favorites? “That’s a tough question,” says Conniff. “I guess I would list the lobster gnocchi, crab cakes, bluefish with lemon aioli, the red flannel hash, and the caramel apple donuts. And my mom’s blueberry pancakes.”