Nova Scotia Lobster: Where and When to Find it and Cook it

August 22, 2013 2 Comments »

Nova Scotia’s fresh lobster – straight off the boat!

Dip anything in butter and, I will like it. So the Lobster in Nova Scotia was a guaranteed delicious experience for me. And better yet – we were there in lobster season.

Okay okay, truth be told – every month is lobster season in Nova Scotia. To prevent overfishing, different districts within Atlantic Canada are able to set their lobster traps at different times of the year. That means you can have fresh caught, live lobster all year long in Nova Scotia Canada!

My First Lobster Experience Didn’t Go Well…I was 17

I still remember my first-ever lobster experience – at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. I was 17 years old and thought it was my big moment to be sophisticated when my friend’s parents ordered us lobster. However, I can’t say that I was in love with it at 17 years old. It was a bit more work than I was looking for. I didn’t really feel comfortable, as I didn’t know what I was doing. And then there was the icky factor of the innards that I was grossed out by.

Thank goodness that we get older and wiser. Somewhere in my late 20’s I lost all of my food hang-ups and decided that trying new things wasn’t icky – but good. It’s that attitude that has had me try foods around the world, like a guinea pig in Peru, rat and silkworm in Thailand, frog and baby duck egg in Vietnam, and lamb’s brain in Jordan.

Nova Scotia Lobster Trail

50,000 tonnes of lobster are hauled from Nova Scotia waters every year and there are almost just as many ways to serve it! Break out your lobster crackers and get ready for a feast. On the Lobster Trail, you’ll experience traditional lobster dinners, lobster rolls, and everything in between.

Nova Scotia lobster and beer

Collect stamps on a digital passport and be eligible to win seafood prizes as you travel throughout Nova Scotia. You can use the Lobster Trail map they provide to determine where to stop and get your lobster fix and stamps!

Nova Scotia Lobster Trail
The Nova Scotia Lobster Trail

Your guide to the Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl!

My Favorite Lobster Stops in Nova Scotia

Hall’s Harbour Lobster in the Rough

It was about time that I revisited Lobster again, and there’s no better place than Nova Scotia to get your lobster fix. When my mom and I did a road trip around Nova Scotia, it gave up the opportunity to eat lobster…lots of lobster. When we arrived at Hall’s Harbor in Nova Scotia, not only were we in for a beautiful view eating outside with harbor views of the Bay of Fundy, but we were also ready to try their famous Lobster in the Rough.

This is a hands-on outdoor eating experience.

Live Lobster
A giant lobster at Hall’s Habor. It would have to be served with a tub of butter!

First, choose your fresh, live lobster from one of the tanks based on size, and then you walk the bin of lobster over via the ‘green mile’ to the cook, who takes the bin from you and boils it up in the Bay of Fundy salt water.

Read about driving the Cabot Trail: a 1-day itinerary on lovely Cape Breton

I must admit there was a tinge of guilt walking my lobster to its death, but it was quickly forgotten when I got my tub of melted butter and plate of cooked lobster brought out to the outdoor picnic table.

Lobster in the Rough
Me and my lunch…before the green mile.

We feasted on our fresh lobsters while watching the Bay of Fundy tides drop in the harbor about 6 feet.

Hall's Harbor nova scotia
Hall’s Habor. Thanks to the Bay of Fundy this little inlet would be dry in a few hours.
eat lobster
Mom enjoying her lobster outside at Hall’s Harbor.

Rusty Anchor Restaurant on Cape Breton

The Rusty Anchor restaurant is right along the Cabot Trail, so you can’t miss it, especially with the giant fisherman statue outside! This is an iconic family-owned restaurant with a killer view.

Take a seat on the outdoor patio and do some whale watching as you wait for your lobster feast. Sitting outside gazing out on the ocean, eating lobster, and drinking beer – it really doesn’t get any better than this.

Cabot Trail Food Rusty Anchor
What a view!
Cabot Trail Food Rusty Anchor
Love at first bite…Rusty Anchor

Read about the culture, golf, hiking, food, and all the things to do on Cape Breton Island

Get Lobster Right off the Boat in Nova Scotia

In Guysborough, at the DesBarres Manor Inn, Chef Anna Nickerson gave us the opportunity to get even more hands-on. She had us cook our own lobsters!

The lobsters were purchased directly off the local fisherman’s boat earlier that day, and now a few hours after catching them, they were going to be our dinner.

lobster boat
Lobster straight off the boat in Guysborough

How to Cook Live Lobster

We met Anna and some other DesBarres guests in the homey buttercup yellow kitchen to cook up our lobsters. As you would guess – it’s honestly pretty easy:

  1. Fill a large pot with 4 inches of water. Add lots of salt to the water and bring to a boil.
  2. Pick up the lobster by the back and clip the rubber bands from the claws.
  3. Put live lobsters in boiling water head first.
  4. Cover. Steam lobsters for approximately 14 to 20 minutes until done.
  5. Test the lobsters to see if they are done by grabbing hold of the antenna and give a good shake, if it comes out, they are done! (this is the method locals taught me!)
  6. Use lobster crackers or a big chefs knife to shell lobsters. If you are nervous about this part – then just follow these instructions from the Kilted Chef on how to crack lobsters.
  7. Dip lobster meat in melted butter and enjoy!

lobster cooking
Chef Anna showed me how to pick up a live lobster.

We all had a great time talking about the fishing industry in general as Anna’s husband was a tuna fisherman so we learned quite a bit about fishing in general as our lobsters cooked.

How to Eat Lobster? With Patience

eating lobster
Lobster carnage…and my mom still working on her last pieces.

That night I watched as my mom, who is scared of most things she’s not familiar with, slowly and methodically devoured the lobster – an animal no farm girl from Nebraska should know anything about. The shell or having to work for it didn’t bother her in the least. In fact – her patience in getting every piece of delectable meat was impressive.

Other Ways to Get Your Fill of Nova Scotia Lobster

Can you ever have enough lobster from Nova Scotia? I think not! In addition to the numerous restaurants that serve lobster around Nova Scotia – there are some other ways you can overdose on that sweet meat!

Go to the South Shore Lobster Crawl Festival

February just happens to be the peak of the lobster season along the entire South Shore of Nova Scotia; from Barrington (the Lobster Capital of Canada) to Peggy’s Cove and every port in between – you can expect all kinds of lobster celebrations as part of the Lobster Crawl Festival.

Not only can you eat inordinate amounts of Nova Scotia Lobster in February, there are also a number of lobster experiences you can have during the festival too. From lobster snow sculptures to lobster beer, cooking classes to kitchen parties, wine pairings to art shows, fishery tours to “lobster” wool. 

Learn about Nova Scotia Lobster with the Kilted Chef

Chef Alain Bossé, aka the Kilted Chef, is Nova Scotia’s lobster ambassador. I was lucky enough to meet him and soak up his Maritime charm and lobster knowledge recently. And yes…he always wears his signature kilt cooking!

He showed me how to cook a lobster as well as get it out of the shell, an art that he makes look easy!

If you can’t meet Chef Alain in Nova Scotia, then the next best thing is to join in on one of his live cooking episodes on Facebook. You can attend one of his live Nova Scotia cooking classes and learn about preparing all kinds of Nova Scotia delicacies.

After our lobster feast in Guysborough, my mom and I both agreed that it was the best lobster we ever had – maybe it was because it was so fresh, or because we had cooked ourselves. Whatever the reason – I think I would have loved Nova Scotia lobster even without the melted butter!

Disclosure – I was a guest of Visit Nova Scotia and Authentic Seacoast during my time in the region. However, all of the opinions expressed here are my own.

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