Cary, NC – Many religious organizations love to do good works with heartful intentions, dedicated labor and a common vision. One Cary church has led the way in doing good works by combining the elbow grease and love of lobsters. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church of Cary is holding its 11th annual “Lobster Fest” on Saturday, October 7, 2017.
A truckload of live lobsters, brought down overnight from Maine, has delighted the taste buds of hundreds of diners, but the real magic is the longer term benefits those diners make possible with their purchases. Ted Straub, the original “Lobster Man” of the festival, shared with me that the event raises more than $15,000 each year and monies go straight to outreach programs (that is, activities that benefit the wider community) as well as youth and other projects at St. Paul’s. And in addition, a collection of canned goods is taken up each Lobster Fest that are delivered to the Food Bank of Eastern North Carolina.
The over-200 volunteers have their work cut out for them in 2017: preparing hundreds of pounds’ worth of delicious lobsters. While live lobsters are sold for those who prefer their own kitchen work, most pick up cooked 1.5 lbs. lobsters and the church has perfected a “Quarta Pounda Lobsta Roll” served on grilled La Farm Bakery brioche. Diners can also purchase complete Lobster Meals (with indoor or outdoor seating and live music) and Party Pack Specials which are delivered to purchasers by volunteers. Over 3,000 lobsters and rolls were served.
The Fest organizers shared another treasure: a recipe for “Bishop’s Lobster Bisque” created by Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States, who is based in Raleigh and who has visited St Paul’s Cary frequently in the past decade.
The Bishop’s “Curry” Lobster Bisque
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3 1/2 cups lobster stock
- Lobster Meat from 1 1/2lb. Lobster Fest lobster
- 1/2 cup light cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 fluid ounces brandy
- 2 green onions, finely chopped
Prepping the Lobster:
- Poach lobsters in water with equal parts sugar to salt. This helps keep the natural sweetness of the lobster!
- Poach lobsters until 145 degrees Fahrenheit
- Dis-member lobster, keeping shells
- For lobster stock, add one onion, two carrots, three stalk celery and lobster shells in stock pot and steep for one hour, strain, then reduce contents until flavorful or by half.
Warning: Do not salt the stock once you have started reducing it; it will be naturally salty from the poaching liquid.
- Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, celery and garlic, and cook five minutes or until tender. Mix in flour, curry powder, paprika and tomato paste. Gradually stir in lobster stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes.
- Stir lobster into the pot, reserving some lobster to place on top of each serving. Mix in cream. Season with salt and pepper, and divide into servings. Pour an equal amount of brandy into each serving. Sprinkle with green onions and top with reserved lobster. Serve with an appropriate blessing!
For details see www.lobsterfestcary.org. Hours are published at the web site.
Story and photos by David Lindquist.