By Adam Reilly | Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Aug. 3, 2011
BOSTON — After nearly two centuries of existence, Union Oyster House has its own unique body of lore: From JFK’s favorite booth to a plaque honoring Boston’s first female waitress. And as the restaurant celebrates its 185th anniversary Wednesday, business remains brisk.
Danny Martinez is a teacher visiting from San Diego. During Tuesday’s lunch hour, he enjoyed oysters, cherrystones and a beer.
|Mussels are served at the Union Oyster House. (avhell via Flickr)|
“I did my homework because I’m a teacher,” said Martinez. “I did a lot of yelping, go to Yelp.com, and this definitely came up as one of the top one to two (seafood restaurants) in the Boston area.”
Sitting a few yards away, Joe King of County Galway, Ireland was wrapping up a meal of his own — his first since arriving in Boston earlier today. King gives the Union Oyster House’s namesake specialties his stamp of approval, but adds that the legendary oysters from his hometown are even better.
“Well, they’re good here,” King said. “But I think we have better oysters in Clarinbridge.”
With customers from as far away as the West Coast and Europe, it’s no wonder the Union Oyster House has a bit of a reputation as a tourist magnet. Its amply stocked gift shop indicates the restaurant is happy to play the part.
Still, after 185 years in business, there are a few regulars with strong local ties.
“I’m from Charlestown, Mass., originally,” said Tom Roche, as he sat at the Union Oyster House’s legenday U-shaped oyster bar. “I live in California now. Came here for the oysters clams and scallops today... I come back here every year, and this is the place I come to.”
On August 3, the Union Oyster House will celebrate its 185th year of existence with a special menu featuring thirty dollars worth of food for just $1.85. That price is only good from 11 AM to 3 PM, but if you miss it, take heart. This isn’t the Union Oyster House’s first anniversary special, and chances are it won’t be its last.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
3/4 oz Dry Yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups warm filtered water
2 oz unsalted butter (melted)
1 tsp Granulated sugar
2 TB squid ink
2 lbs AP Flour
2 tsp kosher salt
3 tbsp EVOO
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 lb cleaned fresh squid tubes & tentacles
1 TB chopped FRESH oregano
1 TB chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup finely ground panko bread crumbs
AP Flour for coating meatballs
Red Sauce of Your choice (see below)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
10 lb of your farmers over ripe tomatoes, halved lengthwise, cored, and coarsely chopped
10 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed
1 red onion sliced thinly
1 cup SPANISH extra-virgin olive oil (sorry I can never resist saying that)
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
Richard Garcia is the Executive Chef of the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel. He is one of the many chefs who will be at the Taste of WGBH Food and Wine Festival on September 13-15, 2012. Be sure to check out his Chef Demo on Saturday.
By Toni Waterman | Tuesday, July 17, 2012
July 17, 2012
SOUTH BOSTON, Mass. — If you’re the type of person who associates lobster with big, celebratory events, then you’re in luck. With prices lower than they’ve been in decades, something as simple as — well, a Tuesday night can be reason to celebrate.
It’s 6 a.m. at Medeiros Dock in South Boston. The sun is just coming up as lobsterman Steven Holler gets his boat, the November Gale, ready for a day at sea. He steps into his bright orange bib pants, slips on his galoshes and then effortlessly glides his boat to the bait dock.
He loads $700 worth of fish on to the deck. And by 6:15, Holler and his crew of one set off to haul lobster traps in the waters off Boston’s Harbor Islands.
Lobsters, lobsters everywhere
In 35 years in the business, Holler says he’s never seen a lobster season quite like this one. It all started this spring.
“We came out to haul that gear expecting to get 30 or 40 pounds and what we saw was just totally off the charts. Something we’ve never seen before. There were just lobsters everywhere,” he says.
Plentiful catches came early, flooding the lobster market up the East Coast. And since it was May, there weren’t enough tourists to eat them up.
And if there’s one thing we all learned in economics class: Surpluses make prices plummet.
Lobstermen in the Boston area are getting $3 - $3.50 a pound right now. Retail prices are a bit higher at around $5, which means that the price is running pretty equal to a bologna sandwich.
“I looked at a slip from last year and it was anywhere between $4.50 - $4.75 per pound,” says Holler. "The price we’re getting is something like you’d get in the '80s — mid-'80s. And we’re paying 2012 fuel prices, bait prices and labor prices.”
The problem in a
nut lobster shell
Lobster is even cheaper further north: The Wall Street Journal reports that some lobstermen in Maine are getting as low as $1.25 a pound. And it doesn’t seem to be going up anytime soon, because now there’s another factor dragging prices down: soft-shells. Those are lobsters that have just shed their shells and are growing into new, bigger ones.
The shedding process usually doesn’t start until mid-July, but lobstermen this year have been catching soft-shells since May.
“A soft-shell lobster is veal in the lobster world,” says Holler. “It is tender. It is sweet.”
Sweet, but fragile — too fragile to ship long distances, which puts even more lobsters in the Northeast supply chain.
A solution: Eat up
“The public has to know: there’s a lot of lobsters out there,” says Holler. “So the more lobster people buy, hopefully it will be better for the industry and hopefully that trickles down to the fisherman.”
There’s one more big factor playing in this perfect storm: Canadian processing plants, which usually buy up any extra lobsters, aren’t. They had strong catches this season too and already have their own backlog of lobsters.
Still, Holler says he will keep setting his traps, even if it means catching too much of a good thing.
By WGBH News | Thursday, July 14, 2011
Jul. 15, 2011
A tasty lobster plate (jazzy4flickr/flickr)
BOSTON — It's hard to find someone who knows more about New England seafood than Jasper White. White owns the popular Summer Shack in Cambridge, and he joined WGBH's Emily Rooney to give some tips on cooking lobster, charcoal grilling and buying fresh seafood.
Don't boil lobster, steam it. It cooks slower, the meat gets more tender, and not as tough as when you boil it.
Make a rack out of an upside-down colander or out of rock weed instead of buying a new one.
Put an egg in the pot. When the egg is cooked, the lobster is cooked.
Buy a big charcoal grill. Charcoal adds a smokey flavor to your meat or fish.
Make a big concentrated fire.This way you can use a large range of temperatures.
The smaller the meat or fish, the larger the fires should be.
When grilling chicken, cover the grill so it acts as an oven.
Buying Fresh Seafood
If you're close to the source, go to the source. Buy from fishermen coming back in for the day.
Create a relationship with who runs the market. They always know what's best to buy that day.
Fresh fish has a shiny look.
Fresh fish does NOT have an odor. If it does, it's a few days old.
These tips and full recipies are found in Jasper's cookbok, The Summer Shack Cookbook, now avaliable in paperback.