Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Fishing in Brooklyn

K., being a Florida girl, has had a lot of great seafood in her life. But among all the grouper and stone crabs, she's missed one great thing:

Lobster Rolls!

We were browsing around in Book Court, down by the cookbook section (hey, how'd that happen?) and I found Pearl Oyster Bar founder Rebecca Charles' book, full of sepia old-timey photos of Maine and then, tucked off in the corner, a little color snap of a lobster roll on a paper plate.

"So, are you asking me out for a lobster roll?" asked K. It was 4 o'clock, and we had to leave to catch her plane at 8.

"You bet," I said, and we went back home, drank tea, and went over to Brooklyn Fish Camp, at Fifth and Degraw. Now, a little backstory: Rebecca Charles and her former partner Mary started Pearl, serving oysters and lobster rolls to the West Village hordes, inspired in equal parts by New England seafood shacks and San Francisco's Swan Oyster Depot. Then, Rebecca and Mary had a nasty breakup, and Mary started her own seafood joint, Mary's Fish Camp, just a few blocks away, inspired in equal parts by the menu at Pearl's and the original Mary's Fish Camp, in Florida. Both thrived, with Pearl expanding next door and Mary's begetting Brooklyn Fish Camp in the Slope. Making it across the river was dangerous: on what was to be opening day, a fire upstairs damaged the restaurant, postponing the opening for a month, and early Chowhound reports whined about inconsistent cooking and indifferent service.

But they were close by, which meant we didn't have to consign ourselves to the vagaries of the F train to get there, and I knew they had lobster rolls--which, if they were anything like Mary's, would be swell.

And didn't we have fun, with a Florida waitress, Belle and Sebastian on the stereo, and big, fat, cold-weather lobster chunks spilling out of a buttery bun. The roll was almost eclipsed by the enormous haystack of hot shoestring fries, but it was there, holding its own. No celery, no fripperies, just lobster and mayo. Mmmmm.

Meanwhile, I had the grilled French sardines over lentils--three nice meaty specimens, but damn, these were some bony fish. I'm well-practiced at peeling out the backbones and heads, and liberating the odd whiskery bone, but this was a little too reminiscent of the afternoon we'd just spent up in the dinosaur-fossil section of the Museum of Natural History. Still, it was a good time.

And then we came back, for K. to grab her bag and head out, and for me to realize yet again that she really is going away in just a couple of weeks, off to Afghanistan for a year, where an M-16, not me, will be keeping her company.

But if you need to cheer up, as I do, just go to Canadian singer Sarah Harmer's web site and listen to her song "I Am Aglow" from her upcoming album I'm a Mountain.

I am aglow with thoughts of you
Are the stories that you told me true?
It doesn’t matter if they are
They are to me

You’re a map of a place maybe someday I’ll go
With thoughts of you I am aglow

Does it matter that all I can think of is you?
Is it obvious? Does it show?
With thoughts of you I am aglow


K. said...

I am aglow with thoughts of you, my sweet, lovely Stephanie. We'll have many more lobster rolls together. And perhaps we'll make another visit to Weeki Wachee to see the actual Mary's Fish Camp. Do you think they cut special deals there for mermaids?

shuna fish lydon said...

I have to say that after a few meals at MFC, Pearl is scales and fins above it. As boring as it is I love that I can go to Pearl and always get New England seafood at its best. I found MFC loud and dark and not well ventillated.

Although I've always thought Mary was cuter.