A rare lobster from a tiny fishing village in Nova Scotia is making a splash on the New York culinary scene.
Fourchu is appearing on the menus of some of the city's most elite restaurants during its brief, 10-week season this summer, with Aqua Best seafood market importing 8,000 pounds of the sweet crustacean every week.
The lobsters, familiar to only the most hard-core foodies, are being stored in specially built concrete tanks and sold at Aqua Best's retail shop in Chinatown. And they can be yours for $18 a pound.
While the seafood company sold the delicacy for only a few weeks last summer, about a dozen restaurants have taken the bait this time around, including Oceana, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, ABC Kitchen and Gramercy Tavern, as well as a couple of San Francisco restaurants, said Steven Wong of Aqua Best.
The popularity of the lobster appears to be the work of Dorothy Cann Hamilton, the CEO of the International Culinary Center in New York City. Ms Hamilton summered in the tiny town as a child, and invited several chefs to join her there two years ago. This year, an importer agreed to deliver a limited quantity of lobsters to high end dining establishments. They retail for about $18 a pound, and are on menus for about $50.
The article notes this is an unusual opportunity to cash in on customer desire to support small, independent food producers (only a dozen or so lobstermen currently work the waters), and offer a product that is described a having a unique terroir.
So, are they worth the bucks?
In honor of National Lobster Day on Friday, The Wall Street Journal put the Fourchu up against a Maine lobster in a blind taste test that involved three impartial judges: the founder of the food blog SeriousEats.com, Ed Levine; the chef at Esca, David Pasternack; and Pearl Oyster Bar's owner, Rebecca Charles.
Chef Ben Pollinger at Oceana prepared both types of lobster the same way.
Both Ms. Charles and Mr. Pasternack determined that they preferred the Maine lobster over the Fourchu. Mr. Levine ultimately said he couldn't tell the difference.
Mr. Pasternack—who was among the chefs on the trip to Fourchu two summers ago—said he appreciates the effort to help the village of Fourchu. But in the end, he said the price difference doesn't justify any difference in taste.
I believe the government in Nova Scotia apportions lobster gathering seasons for various sections of the province, so the window of opportunity for this small village to catch a great price is limited.