Elegant Meal & Casual Dining

When I think of an elegant meal, my mind goes directly to lobster, not because of the expense as you might imagine. For me, it's because of the subtle sweetness and delicate texture of the meat and the seasonal availability. You want lobster? You have to wait until it's lobster season. It's also because, while there aren't many steps in procuring the meat from the shell, there is a skill to adding just enough salt to the cooking water and cooking the whole lobster just long enough. Just long enough takes much effort and many failed attempts. By the time your pure and simply delicious lobster meat is on a plate, it's one of the most elegant meals you'll ever experience! Whip up a garlic-basil aioli by adding two tablespoons of chopped fresh basil to this basic recipe by Martha Stewart, or combine 1 cup Duke's Mayonnaise with a very finely chopped garlic clove and two tablespoons of finely chopped fresh basil. Either one makes an excellent flavor companion for the lobster.

The only thing that makes this elegant meal better is that you don't have to eat it in a formal environment. Dining room table, pearls and tuxedos are optional. While you may certainly use good china, linen napkins and "the good glasses" for you wine, you can take this dining experience down a notch and enjoy it all on a picnic excursion by the lake or on your patio under a brightly colored umbrella. This elegant meal may be enjoyed in the most casual manner, even going so far as to use fingers instead of forks.

And what do with the leftovers? Gather them up in a bowl, squeeze lemon juice over the top, stir in a little of the garlic-basil mayonnaise (or aioli) and a teeny bit of finely chopped celery. Now you've got a fabulous lobster roll filling! Can you say, lobster round two?