The clear waters of Peggy’s Cove.
I’ve been to Peggy’s Cove several times since that first childhood trip—and in every season. In the summer, visitors flock from all over the world to wander the rocks, inadvertently and inescapably photo bombing each other. My latest trip sees me on these familiar shores on a brisk February afternoon. The scene is decidedly less crowded but still stunning, as skiffs of snow line cracks in the granite. I have the pretty little road to myself as I walk to the lighthouse, past shuttered tourist shops. At the Breakwater Inn, my host, Peter Richardson is getting ready for a lobster boil.
With a plastic bib safely secured around my neck, I dig into lobster, rolls and potato salad. Across the table, an Irish visitor picks up her fork to dip a claw in butter. Richardson quietly admonishes her: “You’re in Peggy’s Cove now, use your fingers.” The daughter of a lobster fisherman chimes in: “If you don’t have butter and sea water dripping off you, you’re not doing it right!”
After dinner, we join a few of the town’s remaining 30 residents for a drink in a fishing shed. “The men meet 365 days a year,” Richardson remarks. Once in a while, they invite visitors to join them among the nets and buoys to hear a yarn or two. One fisherman notes that he doesn’t actually eat much lobster: “Only once in the spring,” he says, as he tucks his bottle of rum on the counter and heads home for the night.
The quiet visit to Peggy’s Cove is our first stop on the annual South Shore Lobster Crawl. Every February, people up and down the south coast embrace winter with events such as a fat bike festival, art shows and the Lobster Roll Challenge at White Point Beach Resort near Liverpool. During the crawl, a dozen or so restaurants enter their finest crustacean plates—from downhome, with a side of potato chips, to upscale, accompanied by artisanal relish and microgreens. Capt. Kat’s Lobster Shack of Barrington Passage won the inaugural 2018 title and bragging rights for the year.
You can’t miss the shack: Look for the giant lobster perched on its roof. Once inside, you’ll be greeted by a live 80-year-old crustacean. Lucy the Lob-star is the South Shore’s take on Groundhog Day (she didn’t see her shell shadow this year). Lucy hangs out with another local celeb: a rare blue lobster. Their greenish-brown tankmates, however, are destined for dinner plates.
“Some people think lobsters are red and the green ones must’ve gone off,” chuckles Captain Brad Crouse, as we head out on his boat from West Berlin. (Live lobsters can be green, brown, red or blue.). From March to May, he takes visitors on morning fishing sessions. I watch as he and son David haul traps—a sort of ballet in rubber boots. David hands me a tool that fastens blue bands over the crustaceans’ claws. Back on shore, we take our haul back to the White Point Beach Resort where chefs remove the bands, boil the lobsters and serve dinner overlooking the ocean.