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Dinner Al Fresco

Posted by by Molly Ledin, food experience manager
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It was here. My mom was turning 70. All her kids (there are 3 of us), her grandchildren (of which there are two,) and her one and only great-grandchild were all going to be in town to celebrate with her. Since I had just added a deck to my house and my dad and I had built a beautiful barnwood dining table, we decided to host a dinner for her at my house, al fresco. It was August and the weather gods were on our side…it was truly a “glory day” as my mom would call it.


The table was set with simple white flowers from the garden. I had an abundance of fresh basil in my garden so I thought I would add a few sprigs to the arrangement on the table. This added a nice pop of dark green to the arrangement and flooded the dining area with the freshness of basil. Plus, mom loves basil.

I had asked mom select the menu for her special day, but had a few surprises up my sleeve, too. See, mom loves lobster, but she would NEVER ask to include lobster for 12 people on her menu…but I was going to do it anyway. She’s my mom and it was her special day. The lobster to be served was unbeknownst to her as she set out to choose her meal. She selected an assortment of grilled stuffed chicken breasts, making sure that there was something for everyone. My brother-in-law and 12 year-old nephew are a little finicky so rosemary ham and Swiss cheese was selected for them; artichoke, sundried tomato and goat cheese for mom; and prosciutto and fresh sage filling for dad. The rest of us not-so-finicky would enjoy a little slice of each!

OK, back to the lobster. As much as we all love lobster, it can be a touch on the messy side and quite honestly, I wasn’t thrilled about soiling the beautiful table with random lobster shrapnel. Nor did I want the guests to be covered in shell. I decided to go straight to the expert, Pat Yorek, Meat & Seafood Director at Lunds and Byerly’s, to see what lobster options might be out there. Well, my timing was perfect because he told me about a new lobster we had just started offering – “The Naked Lobster.” Yup, naked. As in no shell. I must admit, I was intrigued by this Naked Lobster of which he spoke. I set out to learn more and found that it was actually a whole, raw lobster that had been removed from its shell in its entirety. How they do this, I do not know, nor do I care to know. Before me it sat, in a shrink wrapped tray, a completely naked little lobster. It looked a little extra-terrestrial and a tad creepy, but still, in some strange way, like a lobster …only naked. Ah ha! This would be a perfect appetizer for mom’s special dinner…she gets lobster, and my beautiful table doesn’t get messy, nor do the guests. Some shrimp and a few scallops would round out the grilled seafood platter for an appetizer on the deck, under the big oak tree…al fresco.

The day of the party, I whipped up traditional cocktail sauce and green goddess sauce using the fresh herbs from the garden and then set to work on grilling
these two naked lobsters. I decided to place the whole lobsters on a sheet of aluminum foil and bend up the sides a bit to create a foil tray. A little drizzle of melted butter on top and they was ready to be placed on the grill. The shrimp and scallops were in their own tray (you see, the beauty of aluminum foil on the grill is that you still get the grill marks through the foil, but nothing will slip through the grates.) All the seafood went on the platter with fresh lemon wedges, the sauces and a few sprigs of flat leaf parsley. It was the perfect start to a wonderful evening, al fresco.

Mom got her lobster after all…whether she liked it or not.

Oh, and she liked it.

Tags: lobsteroutdoor dining

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