THE concept was a six-day exploration of coastal New England in its full fall glory -- quaint towns, twisty roads and an antique or 10. Then lobster became the main event.
Thanks to the Northeast's extraordinary 2012 lobster glut, the much-publicized best harvest in years, lobster was everywhere and abundant. And so, as my wife, Sarah, and I moseyed our way up the coast from Cape Ann, Mass., to Camden, Me. -- hiking, museum-hopping and restaurant grazing -- we were seized by lobster lust.
That hunger can still be satisfied for anyone wanting to prolong the faded glory of the summer that was, as locals say that lobster is likely to be plentiful past Thanksgiving well into December.
Herewith, then, a quick crustacean-centric tour featuring eight restaurants where Homarus americanus, in seemingly endless incarnations, will remain on the menu late into the fall.
Our first stop was Gloucester, Mass., where, after an afternoon arrival, we left the soothing surge of the breakers outside our room at the Bass Rocks Ocean Inn and headed 15 minutes away to the bustling 80-seat Stone Soup Café in Ipswich, a casual locavore restaurant with a central bar. Lobster was available, and we were in: two bowls of rich, unctuous lobster bisque with tubby Homarus chunks along with sweet, tender lobster in linguine Alfredo with plump shrimp in a full-fat sauce.
The next day, after we finished a four-hour, sun-blessed whale-watch cruise (whales and dolphins providently spotted, by the way), we drove 10 minutes for the full-on primordial lobster experience at Woodman's of Essex, a heritage year-round institution that handles 600 customers on a good day.
There we ordered two one-and-a-half-pound beauties outside at the lobster tank before heading inside for everything else: thick-shredded coleslaw with celery seed, a rich clam-crowded cup of chowder, fried clams, boiled local sweet corn, intense sweet-potato fries and Ipswich ale on tap.
Splattering deliciousness on our lobster bibs and reaching for the clarified butter, we celebrated the hands-on cave-dwelling dining experience that lobster-fressing shares with Chesapeake crabs, mussels, spare ribs and fried chicken.
A morning later we were shopping and strolling through historic Rockport, Mass., which could not be quainter. From there we headed up to the equally lovable and historic Newburyport, where we had our daily fix at Bob Lobster nearby, across from the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. Twin lobsters, consumed on outdoor picnic tables, were gloriously sugary.
As we headed up to Portland, Me. we took several seaside hikes along the way, and had lunch at Sun & Surf on a patio overlooking York Beach while devouring an extravagantly priced ($18.50) lobster roll.
Trending northward, we laced up our walking shoes and ambled a few miles on the Marginal Way in Ogunquit, enjoying the spectacular coastal views. As was fitting, we stopped and paid our respects at the 1948 Lobster Point Lighthouse along the path.
That night, after strolling about Portland, our new lobster base camp, we visited the Salt Exchange and fell hard for the intense lobster risotto, highlighted by flavorful claw and body bits.
We were lucky to discover that our visit coincided with the newly opened, nationally reviewed Winslow Homer show, "Weatherbeaten," at the Portland Museum of Art, which we visited the next day, followed by an obligatory stop in Freeport, Me., at the L.L. Bean outlet and lobsters from right off the boat at the Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster Company, now closed for the season.
Our meander on the next day led us north to Boothbay Harbor, a town where the word charm may possibly have been coined. Lunch was at the snug 74-seat Ebb Tide (run by the same family for 38 years), all shellacked knotty pine and built-in booths. We were awed speechless by the lobster melt, a grilled Swiss-cheese sandwich on thick toasted, buttered bread, chock-full of lobster meat with mayonnaise.
In Camden, Me., we found the Blue Harbor House, a cosseting B&B on Elm Street, a few minutes' walk from the harbor. Immediately upon our arrival we learned that in 45 minutes a well-recommended windjammer cruise would be unfurling from Bayview Landing, so we dumped our bags and speed-walked down to the 86-foot wooden schooner Appledore II. When the sails rose we reveled in the motorless silence and the majesty of a harvest moon (not to mention a bunch of generous Bloody Marys and single-malt Scotches).
We shared our après-cruise dinner at the Graffam Bros. Harborside Restaurant with two new friends made on the schooner. Lobster, of course. We had it steamed; they ordered the Harborside B.L.T. -- an amazing bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich on toasted multigrain bread with lobster salad. (Call that a B.L.T.L.?)
On our last day we drove up to see the breathtaking panorama of Camden Harbor from the stone lookout tower on nearby Mount Battie. Then we made the 40-minute drive down the coast on Route 1 to Rockland, Me., to inhale the Maine-centric collections at the well-stocked Farnsworth Art Museum and the nearby Wyeth Center.
Dinner was in Camden at Fresh Restaurant on Bay View Landing; there, lobster joined garlic mashed potatoes along with a wild king salmon.
As we left Camden the next morning for the long drive home, we were surprised to admit that, despite over a dozen lobster meals between us, we still were not sated. Our conclusion? In a year of unexpected plenty, too much isn't enough.
THE LOBSTER TOUR
Bass Rocks Ocean Inn, 107 Atlantic Road, Gloucester, Mass.; (888) 802-7666; bassrocksoceaninn.com.
Blue Harbor House, 67 Elm Street, Camden, Me.; (207) 236-3196; blueharborhouse.com.
Bob Lobster, 49 Plum Island Turnpike, Newbury, Mass.; (978) 465-7100; boblobster.com.
Ebb Tide Restaurant, 43 Commercial Street, Boothbay Harbor, Me.; (207) 633-5692.
Fresh Restaurant, 1 Bay View Landing, Camden, Me.; (207) 236-7005; freshcamden.com.
Graffam Bros. Harborside Restaurant, 16 Bayview Landing, Camden, Me.; (207) 706-4999.
Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster Company, 36 Main Street, South Freeport, Me.; (207) 865-3535; harraseeketlunchandlobster.com.
The Salt Exchange, 245 Commercial Street, Portland, Me.; (207) 347-5687; thesaltexchange.net.
Stone Soup Café, 141 High Street, Ipswich, Mass.; (978) 356-4222; ipswichstonesoup.com.
Sun & Surf, 265 Long Sands Beach, York Beach, Me.; (207) 363-2961.
Woodman's of Essex: 121 Main Street, Essex, Mass.; (978)768-6057; woodmans.com.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.