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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Lobster Landing, Clinton CT

I am back in Utah for Amanda's wedding, but the blog is still in New England.  During my last post, we talked about my background with lobsters, and we went over the "official rules and regulations of the Katie Wanders Lobster Shack Tour".  AKA the quest to find the best lobster roll in the state (any excuse to eat my lobster, am I right?). Now that we know how it all works, let's start with our first review ** at Lobster Landing in Clinton Connecticut. 

** The reviews will be in no particular order, and will be spread out throughout the course of the summer.  Because lobster rolls are expensive and you can only eat so many in one day. 

Lobster Landing of Clinton, Connecticut
Lobster Landing of Clinton, Connecticut 
First up on the Lobster Shack Tour is Lobster Landing.  Lobster Landing is a fine little lobster shack at the end of Commerce street in Clinton, Connecticut.  The town beach is around the corner and everything about this spot is oh so Coastal Connecticut.  It is on a small point, right on the water with awesome views of the water and Cedar Island across the way. This little shack with peeling paint and a sign with lopsided letters is just about as charming as it gets.  No frills, no fancy building (heck, there isn't even a website, kinda cute, right?).  A shack, some tables, and lobster served one way and the only way it should be served in my opinion.  Hot and buttered. 

Lobster Landing's Hot Buttered Lobster Roll
Lobster Landing's Hot Buttered Lobster Roll
Everything I read about this spot made me so excited to visit.  Dog friendly, BYOB, and the lobster rolls were huge.  Be still my heart. 

We pulled up to Lobster Landing and found a spot in the lot.  I did a preliminary lap around the place to see what we had to work with.  Tables in the sun, tables on a dock, table in the shade, table on sea shells.  Small shack on the water, and a fast moving line where you ordered one of three things from the menu:  Hot Lobster Rolls, Hot Dogs, and Sausage and Peppers.  Sorry vegetarians, this aint the spot for you.  I can't see how you can walk up to a lobster shack and order anything but a lobster roll, but not everyone shares my obsession with seafood and I am okay with that (more lobster for me).  

Ordering Counter and Seating in the Shade at Lobster Landing of Clinton, Connecticut
Ordering Counter and Seating in the Shade at Lobster Landing of Clinton, Connecticut 
Looking through old posts throughout the years about Lobster Landing, I can see that the price has been steadily creeping.  A 2016 article has the lobster roll at $16.  A 2011 article has the rolls at $15.  As of the publication of this fine article, the lobster rolls were priced at $17.50 which sounds high for a sandwich with no sides, but is pretty standard for the area.  I really loved the vibe of this spot, from couples with a bottle of wine to large parties with an entire large coolers.  People brought apps and desserts to go with their lobster rolls, or just bought a bag of chips from the counter.  In true New-England-White-Girl fashion, I brought a bottle of cold rose to pair with my crustacean.   

Well, I think we have enough of an intro for the area and its about time to go right into the rankings.   Lobster Landing - you did good. 

View of the water from the tables 
1.  The Shack and Patio:  4 - Adorable, right on the water, amazing views and oh so charming,  Lost a point for lack of restrooms (port-o-potties only). The patio was nice, on shells under a canopy, or out on the dock in the sun or under an umbrella. 
2.  Ordering system:  5.  So easy, so fast.  Order at the counter, sit down, and they bring your roll too you in about 5 minutes.  Honor System - Pay on your way out.  Only had bottled water for purchase ( no tap ).  
3.  Booze: 5.  Yep, brought a bottle of Rose and enjoyed.  They provided plastic cups.  A lot of people around us had coolers.  They even brought desserts and apps. 
4.  Dogs:  5.  Dogs allowed!  Olive hung out in the shade at our table. I brought my own dog bowl.  Being dog friendly it would have been nice to have a few dog bowls out (be sure to bring your own and water for your dog unless you want to buy bottled water for Fido. 
5.  Parking:  4.  There is a large parking lot and parking on the street.  It was a little chaotic getting in and out of the small lot but we managed to secure parking quickly. 
Lobster Landing's Hot Buttered Lobster Roll
Lobster Landing's Hot Buttered Lobster Roll
6.    Size:  5.  Bigger than I thought and larger than your average lobster roll. 
7.    Meat:  5. Good amount of meat very few (larger) pieces seemed a little tougher than I would have liked. Overall lots of meat, tender, and no sneaky shells. 
8.    Bun:  3.  The rolls came wrapped in foil which kept them warm, but let the buns get a little soggy.  Would have loved it a little more toasted (with butter of course) 
9.    Butter:  4.  Butter ratio was good but could have used a tad more. 
10.  Price:   4.  $18 for just the roll is a little high but I guess its normal.  

TOTAL:  44/50 

Lobster Landing of Clinton, Connecticut 
I was impressed with this little joint and 44/50 aint bad.  As far as size goes, this is it - but the rolls wrapped in foil really took a few points off for the bun getting a little soggy and losing its perfect toastyness.   I loved the atmosphere, and that I could bring my dog and my favorite wine.  The rolls come out fast, and they use the honor system of "Pay On Your Way Out" which just makes it all even more adorable. 

Olive Snoozing at Lobster Landing (Dogs Allowed!)
You are right on the water and you can see them in the hut shelling and picking lobster for the rolls.  It is about as fresh as you can get.  We poked our head in on the way out to see what the price of lobster was going for that day.  New England Charm in a great location on the water in Clinton Connecticut. One lobster shack down and many more lobster rolls left for this New England Lovers consumption. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Connecticut Lobster Shack Tour: Ratings and Rules

I have been beside myself with excitement to start off this epic journey.  No, no, things are a little different now.  There will be less alpine lakes and summit photos, but there will still be journies of equally epic proportions.  So what am I so darn excited about?  The Connecticut Lobster Shack Tour.  Let me give you some background so we can really understand the importance of this...

I used to work with the State of Connecticut Department of Marine Fisheries Division with the American Lobster project.  Lobstering in New England is so important to the area's history and lets face it, charm, fame, and in some states, its economy. Maine’s lobster fishery is the largest lobster fishery in the country and is more than 80 percent of all of the commercial fishing revenue in the state (Source and more info on Maines Lobster Industry). I was lucky enough to work as a Connecticut State Employee on some of the States biggest commercial lobster boats.  I worked as a part of a sea sampling project, analyzing lobsters pulled up in the traps. This gave me the chance to see the industry from several sides, the fishermen, the state, and obviously the consumer. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Unicorn - PADI International Womens Dive Day

"Let's go my unicorn" he said as we loaded up the rest of the dive gear into the courtesy shuttle.  It was parked just outside the dive shop in Fajardo, Puerto Rico on a perfect sunny day in February.  After an early morning and long day spent on the boat, with some great dives at sites around the Spanish Virgin Islands, the nickname still made me laugh.  

Why was the dive master calling me a unicorn?  Well, the story goes something like this, (and I just had to share it in honor of PADI Womens Dive Day tomorrow, Saturday July 16th).   

Photo Credit Diving Me Crazy
It is pretty rare for a 20 something female to walk onto a dive shop or onto a dive boat ready and excited to dive.  Not with her family, not because her boyfriend dragged her along.  On her own, with a full log book and bin full of gear because diving is a passion of hers and hers alone.   Every time I walk into a dive shop alone after scheduling a trip, I get the same look from the 50 something dive master or instructor.  You are here alone? to dive? and you have your own gear and how many dives under your belt?  Madeira, Azores, Puerto Rico and Utah, each expression, uncertainty and questioning when I walk into a dive shop was exactly the same.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Greenvale Vineyards - Portsmouth, Rhode Island

After spending some time at Colt State Park, the day of no plans continued and with great success.  We accidentally came upon the Newport Polo Grounds, an exciting idea for equestrian enthusiasts like myself.  After driving through the polo grounds with promises to return and watch.  Next stop on our "unplanned whatever goes road trip" ended up being a vineyard.  We had heard there were a few vineyards in the area and as I looked at the map, I saw that Greenvale Vineyard was only a few miles away.  

Vineyards and good wine was one thing I was really missing in Utah.  I had visited local Hive Winery, but it was just a spot where they made the wine in a commercial shopping center, no picnic, no grapes no vines.  New England is home to a slew of vineyards, several located just a few miles from my home in Stonington.  Back in New England on a sunny Fourth of July weekend, an afternoon sipping wine and walking in the vines sounded like as good as a Sunday can get.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Colt State Park - Bristol, Rhode Island

Sometimes, it is so nice to head out of town with absolutely no plans.  A few towns in mind, sunny skies, a tank full of gas, dive gear in the trunk and an open agenda...that was the tune of my fourth of July weekend.  On Sunday, we loaded up the car and headed north.  We had nowhere really to be, but a few destinations in mind.  The sorta plan was to head down and check out the cute town of Bristol, Rhode Island, before back tracking to Newport and then Jamestown Rhode Island for a dive, checking out new dive sites and any fun areas along the way. 

Fourth of July in Bristol, RI

Driving through Bristol on the fourth of July weekend was an activity in itself. I knew nothing about this little town (absolutely nothing) and was pleasantly suprised to drive through this quaint little town ALL decked out for the holiday.  On July 4th, every year since 1785, the town of Bristol hosts a national celebration that’s actually older than the Ratification of the U.S. Constitution (1790).  A little town that is part of the oldest fourth of July celebration in America, I am not sure any town had more red white and blue than this one.  People take their parade activities so seriously that we even saw staging set up for lofted couches and prime parade views.

We continued driving and our first detour of the day was to Colt State Park in Bristol.  Looking at Apple maps as we coasted down the busy roads, I could see a large State Park bordering the ocean to our right.  Ocean, state park,  free admission...we saw the signs and made the turn to see what the park was all about.  

Large bulls guarding the entrance to Colt State Park