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Lobster Newberg is a rich, creamy seafood dish with a colorful history. Many culinary characters have laid claim to the dish, though it is believed to have first been served in the United States at Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City. In addition to freshly boiled lobster, a traditional Lobster Newberg contains butter, cream, and sherry. The sauce is seasoned with cayenne pepper, thickened with egg yolks, and finished with a splash of cognac. It is usually served over toast points or puff pastry shells.
The fame of Lobster Newberg has as much to do with its history as it has to do with the dish itself. According to legend, Lobster Newberg was the creation of a Caribbean fruit trader named Ben Wenberg. While dining at Delmonico’s one evening in 1876, he requested that a chafing dish be brought to his table to demonstrate to owner Charles Delmonico the preparation of a lobster dish he had discovered in his travels. It was an instant hit and was added to Delmonico’s menu as Lobster à la Wenberg, with minor modifications to the recipe by chef Charles Ranhofer.
Some time later, Ben Wenberg was involved in an altercation with Charles Delmonico, and the angry proprietor removed his signature dish from the menu. Patrons who loved the dish continued to request it, so it was reinstated to the menu under the modified name Lobster Newberg. To this day, it remains one of the most popular dishes on the menu, and 25 March has been declared Lobster Newberg Day at Delmonico’s.
In 1894, chef Charles Ranhofer published a recipe for Lobster Newberg in his cookbook, "The Epicurean." Similar recipes appear in other French cookbooks as Homard Sauté à la Crème. Lobster Newberg is also called Lobster Delmonico’s and Lobster à la Newberg. It may also be spelled Newburg. Lobster Thermidor is also considered a variation on the dish.
Regardless of the famed Delmonico’s story, the Hotel Fauchere in Milford, Pennsylvania, is also cited as the origin of Lobster Newberg. The hotel was built in 1852 by Louis Fauchere, a former chef at Delmonico’s. The hotel was established 24 years before Ben Wenberg’s tableside demonstration at Delmonico’s; however, some historical literature still claims that Fauchere invented the dish.
Many contemporary restaurants feature Lobster Newberg on their menus. Variations such as Seafood Newberg, Shrimp Newberg and Crab Newberg are also popular. Some variations are even made with fish and chicken.
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