Dorman’s is a Midcoast institution. I’m from away, and even I know that. Malcolm has told me so many times about how there was nothing on that stretch of Route 1 through Thomaston but an ice cream stand and Dave’s Seafood, another long gone, old time favorite. I like to think what it was like there, before the car dealerships, the Walmart and the Hampton Inn, all the consumer ugliness that maligns that way into Rockland. Malcolm remembers going when he was a kid, after dinner with his best friend’s family. And now we bring our girls to get ice cream on summer days when afternoons stretch until bedtime. You can eat Dorman’s in place of dinner, as everyone knows, and it is a perfectly healthy and alternative to a meal. I took Violet and Mina for one last visit this year on the last day of summer to reflect on things like childhood, ice cream, and fleeting moments in time.
The peninsulas emit a siren song that draws us, with no small risk, toward the ocean. Ever since Malcolm started taking me here while we were in college, we’ve made the drive on Route 131 (turn at the Knox Mansion – Very Revolutionary), to fill our bottles from the bubbling spring at Wiley’s Corner, to wade into the Atlantic at Drift-In Beach, and see the sunset where hayfields finally yield to the St. George River. South Thomaston, Tenant’s Harbor, St. George, Port Clyde, Spruce Head. These villages have a magic, a quietness, a quality unlike most other places on earth. These days we’re there a lot, stopping at Harjula’s Dairy Bar, a delivery truck planted in the farm field on a hill above the water, for ice cream at least one evening a week. It is one of my favorite places to be right now.
I tell the girls, and remind myself, all the time that we are so lucky to live in a place that so many people want to visit. Imagine, they live somewhere landlocked, surrounded by highways, billboards, big box stores, and other 21st century soul pollution, and fantasize constantly about coming to Maine. They wait all year, they plan and save, to spend a few days or weeks where we get to be all the time. We live in a special place, I say. And even though it can be a struggle, in March, when the days are dull and ugly, looking around at our neighbors and wondering what might happen if the climate gets too warm too fast, if the lobster migrate north, if we lose fishing and therefore tourism as a means to make a living, I never forget why I chose this place.
It started, as these things tend to do, on Twitter. Nearly every day, friends and family share food-related items on social media with me. Sometimes, these are great tips, like the best way to cook shrimp on the barbecue without drying them out. Other times, well-meaning family will send me ideas for possible items to sell from my food truck, like filling handmade rolled-up waffles with spicy buffalo chicken. And still other times, old friends will contact me with an idea that’s just super gross. This is one of those times.
It’s not often that a recipe, particularly a novelty recipe from the teevee, delivers 100% on its promise. And that, friends, is precisely where we find ourselves today.
At long last… it’s summertime! Time to bask on a sunny deck, overlooking the great, wide Atlantic, eating nature’s finest food, the lobster roll. But alas, summer in New England, particularly the part where you can sit outside and be comfortable, is fleeting.
Prime lobster-eating season will be over before we know it, so it takes some careful planning to budget your valuable lobster roll hunting time wisely. The truly great lobster rolls on the Maine coast are seasonal. VERY seasonal. Some of the best lobster rolls in the state are served by restaurants with seasons so short, that some don’t even open until July 4, and many others close the day after Labor Day.
Always call ahead as well, since many lobster places have changeable schedules depending on weather and crowd level. Wondering about the places you absolutely have to hit during this short Maine summer? Here are the spots that have short seasons, that should absolutely be part of your summer lobster roll dining plan:
Boothbay Lobster Wharf
97 Atlantic Ave Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538; (207) 633-4900; boothbaylobsterwharf.com
If you only try one new lobster roll this summer, make it this one. You won’t regret it. You may have heard others claim otherwise, but I’ve done the actual weighing, and this is the largest regular-sized lobster roll that I have encountered, consistently around 11 ounces. It is just brimming with fresh off the boat, uncut tail halves and full claws and knuckles, lightly tossed in mayo. The size isn’t even what makes this monster great, it’s the summer fresh flavor of the lobster meat, and it can’t be beat. All of this can be enjoyed with live music, a full bar and comfortable indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the quintessentially Maine, working harbor of Boothbay. (Regular size is pictured, but they also have a jumbo if you’re feeling dangerous.)