A restaurant serving lobster in Maine is no anomaly.
But for Danielle and Justin Walker, the owners of the idyllic restaurant and farm, Earth at Hidden Pond, in Kennebunkport, it’s part of a rich family legacy.
“Our son, Jackson, is the sixth generation to live on the farm, which was built in 1750,” Danielle, who manages the front of house, says. “When my father was 13, he’d ride his bike down to the cove and go lobstering.”
Her father, Ted Johnson, is now 70 and still goes out on his red lobster boat (which he built from scratch by hand and named Jessie Danielle, for his two daughters) a couple of days a week—and Justin, as the executive chef for the restaurant, uses everything he catches in the kitchen.
“He could bring in 80 pounds or 280 pounds, but we’ll take it. Like anything else, lobster is just better when it’s fresh caught,” Justin says. “It’s brinier; it tastes like the sea.”
One of the ways Justin likes to prepare it is split, grilled and brushed with curry butter and pickled lime (see the recipe). “Southeast Asian flavors work really well with the summers here,” Justin explains. It’s a smoky, warming, juicy dish that evokes the cuisine at Earth at Hidden Pond: familiar but a little unexpected (think dishes like chicken wings with squid ink), often using ingredients foraged from the gardens and grounds, where the couple also raise dairy goats.
“There’s nothing wrong with boiled lobster—Danielle’s dad makes the best,” Justin says. “But people are expecting a little bit more here. I love the combo of brown butter, garam masala and bitter limes. It’s approachable in flavor but a really interesting dish you can make on your barbecue.”
These days, Jackson, who’s six, sometimes goes out on the lobster boat with his grandfather, although Danielle notes, they keep the trips pretty short.
“He tells me he wants to drive the lobster boat,” she says with a laugh.
We have a feeling that may not be too far off.
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