Lobster Newberg… I Mean, Wenberg

How Lobster Newberg got its name is one of my all-time favorite food stories. It’s also a fascinating glimpse into the twisted mind of someone crazy enough to own/run a restaurant. 

As the story goes, this dish was invented by a Mr. Ben Wenberg, who showed it to his buddy, Charles Delmonico, at the famous Delmonico’s Restaurant, in New York City. Chuck puts it on the menu, calls it “Lobster Wenberg,” and everyone loves it.

Sometime thereafter, the two men get into a horrible argument, and Delmonico takes it off the menu. Of course, the patrons are like, “You said what? He said what? Whatever, just put it back on the menu.” Which he did, but not before changing the name to the anagram, “Newberg,” purely out of spite. Hey, he could have gone with Lobster “Bengrew.”

Strange but true naming stories aside, this really is a great, and simple recipe. As long as you’re not filming it, that is. Once you start with the sauce, you really can’t stop until you’re spooning it into the pastry, so this presented a little challenge in trying to get all the shots.

The sauce is pretty rich, so you want something just thick enough to coat the meat, but not so thick that it covers it up. Having said that, if you cook it a little further, until it almost starts to simmer, it will get a bit thicker, if that’s your preference. Just don’t go too far, or the yolks may start to form curds, and you’ll lose the silkiness.

What you want to avoid is that pudding-like consistency you see on the bad hotel buffets. Besides paying attention to the few minutes of stirring, not much can go wrong. I really hope you give the recipe formerly known as, “Lobster Wenberg,” a try soon. Enjoy!
                        

Ingredients for 4 appetizer sized portions:
4 (4-oz) lobster tails
2 tbsp clarified butter (melted butter with the milky foam removed)
2 or 3 tbsp sherry or brandy
salt to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
cayenne pepper to taste
pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
Serve over buttered toast or in freshly baked puff pastry shells (video to follow)