New England in Sarasota
When owners Christopher and Susan first e-mailed me about their new, fresh New England seafood market on the South Trail (very south), I was intrigued. But really, plenty of people brag about New England steamers, haddock and cod and the ever-loving 1 ½ to two-pound lobsters. What was it going to take for me to really believe this was so “real deal” that I had to do a double take to see if I had landed in Cape Cod or the upper Maine coast? How about six e-mails from readers that can’t stop bragging about this little gem of a fish market.
Celebrating Jerry and Nancy Kaplan's birthdays with a New England feast.
Lotsa Lobster is the real deal—amazing from the time you pull up in the parking lot (just past the fireworks store, in the small strip that hosts Linksters and Quizno’s). The handmade signs express the true freshness. You don’t have to be fancy or have a restaurant attached to get fresh from the boats at 4 a.m. to Logan airport by 6 a.m. and land in Sarasota three hours later to know fresh. The lobster tanks are enormous, with three sections, depending on the size. At $9.50 a pound, I am going to be a frequent crustacean shopper—I promise!
Here’s a culinary factoid for you: The late Arthur Fiedler, famed conductor of the Boston Pops for many decades, insisted on only being served chicken lobsters, the smallest of the bunch, often weighing less than one pound. Arthur forgot that the large lobsters have huge tails loaded with lobster meat. Or perhaps the maestro just didn’t have the same connections that Lobsta Lobster has for the best there is.
Of course, my real telltale sign was when I cooked them up with several pounds of New England steamers. (Just boil in a small amount of water and one chopped Vidalia onion and steam only until they open; serve with clam broth to rinse the sand off and dip in warm melted butter). Holy clamshells! These were terrific and almost every clam opened—a great sign of freshness.
Lotsa Lobster also offers fresh Florida seafood straight from the boats of Punta Gorda, like mahi mahi and fresh Florida shrimp. Call ahead to find out what is just loaded in the case; you might luck out and get fresh filet of sole. And if you are a bit squeamish about dropping lobsters into a boiling pot of water, just pre-order the lobsters freshly steamed.
Oh, and by the way, make sure you pick up some of Suzanne’s smoked salmon spread. The spicy is just for those who can really handle a hard kick of heat, but the regular spread was amazing and started our dinner party with former New Englanders just right.
Lotsa Lobster, 8780 S. Tamiami Trail (941) 918-2529