Friday, March 1, 2013

An Ecstacy at the Milford Fish Market & Restaurant

Last week I was on a joint business/pleasure trip with a friend of mine up to New Hampshire, to see a pair of Oregon friends that have moved up to that area. Coming from central PA we had two objectives: raw oysters and lobster. Honestly, the initial impetus came from my travel mate, Amira Belmokhtar, but having never had either of these fresh my lusts led me forward. We went to the Milford Fish Market & Restaurant and it was an epic evening of food, wine and good living. Milford Fish Market is simple, down-to-earth, fresh food with good service and nobody getting up in your beeswax.

In the afternoon my friend Kom called them up and inquired whether they had fresh lobster. The guy checked, and no, they were all sold out. We started to lose it, but then Kom asked when they would be getting more in ... seemed pointless because we were leaving the next day ... then the guy checks and the lobster truck just pulled in! AAAGHAHGHH! Then, looking over the menu online, we didn't see any raw oysters, just fried. Kom asked about that, do they have them raw and would they serve them? "Yeah, of course, just order them, no problem." AAAGAHAGH! We had thought all the plans were nixed, but then it all came together. Later there was a question from my friend Amira Belmokhtar: can we bring our own wine? They have a full bar, but I called and checked on the corkage fee.

"Umm. I'm not sure, let me ask the boss." Moments later "Yeah that's fine, we'll probably charge like $[redacted] for the glasses and corking. But sure." The number is redacted because it was not large. My eyes bugged out. I formed the impression that "The Boss" was more concerned with normal people enjoying themselves than dropping pretentious fees on their customers. I may be delusional, but I felt a growing love for whoever this Boss was, and we reflected that in the tip. We brought two bottles of wine, a Pouilly-Fuisse and a chablis I think.

We got there and sat in a booth with gingham table cloths, pretty much a local crowd having a Friday night out in Milford. Down to earth. Atmosphere reminded me of Phil's Fish Market in Moss Landing, CA. We ordered the oysters to start and also clam chowder for three of us. And unanimously we each ordered a pair of lobsters, $24.95 a pair.

The OYSTERS! Slurping them off the shells with just some lemon juice ... the dozen went quickly. When the waitress returned we briefly conferred about another dozen oysters ...

To eat a meal with people that all love good food with an equal passion and are ready to pull out all the stops on an occasion like this -- that is ecstasy for me. Is two dozen oysters too much for 4 people with the lobsters coming? That was not a serious consideration. More oysters. I love my friends.

More oysters and the wine was flowing, we were talking, laughing, eating. The chowder came and we worked on that. Good old New England chowder.

Then came our adroit server and an assistant with the eight steaming bright red lobsters and sides, and everyone in the place turned to watch this spectacle. We were going balls-out. We jiggered all the plates around to get everything on the table and there was no room for anything else. And then we started tearing into the lobster ... manipulating with fingers, tongues, teeth, jaws ... them little nutcracker things. Eating and working and making non-verbal vocalizations ... gradually trying to slow down after the first desperate rush to consume tapered off, and then I could sit back and breathe, even though the flesh was so tender and sweet I wanted to tear apart more carapace just for the feeling of it.

We gradually said less and less and the scrap bowls began to fill and the servers took them away and brought more napkins and lemons and each time we were vocalizing taste-liquid-words and gratitude-taste-words and pleasure-texture-word-sounds to the servers, and they seemed to understand. At one point I looked around and saw that our table was the only one where the scope of our meal had reached such a crisis of space, emotion, and sensuality all at once. As it died down, we were still sucking away at the juices inside the lobster legs, grinding on the tail bits, dipping stuff in melted butter, finishing off the wine, starting to talk words again. And we were finally done. I felt like I had gotten to a right place in myself, if that makes sense.

At one point I said some fragments of lines from Charles Mingus's 'Cumbia and Jazz Fusion'*:
Who said mama's little baby likes short'nin' bread?
Who said mama's little baby likes short'nin', short'nin' bread?
That's some lie some white man up and said.
Mama's little baby do'n't like no short'nin' bread.
Mama's little baby likes TRUFFLES!
Mama's little baby likes CAVIAR!
Mama's little baby likes ALL THE FINE THINGS OF LIFE
All the things that a A REAL GOOD PERSON should have.
And that meal with good friends at the Milford Fish Market & Restaurant made me feel like Mingus's version of mama's little baby: a real good person. Much gratitude to the folks that run that shop. Why can't there be more like it?

*This passage starts around 19:18 min.

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