Taste Test: Lobster bisque

Lobster bisque is one of those delicious treats that impresses company and family alike. The problem is, it takes hours to make an authentic French batch. Taster's Choice judges went in search of a shortcut and found five types of lobster bisque in local grocery stores. They found one brand they liked well enough to buy and serve.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent
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Product/Score (out of 100) Rockport/75 Publix/16 Sam's Club/14
How'd it look? Mild orange color — like a Creamsicle. Fresh. Like cheddar cheese. Darker than the others, with flecks of green herbs and big chunks of lobster meat.
Judges' comments Fresh lobster was the key to the success of this bisque. Judges liked the flavors of the meat, along with celery and herbs. "This definitely did not come from a can," said one panelist who described the dish as "delish!" Judges said the Rockport version could pass for homemade if it was warmed on the stove and garnished with some fresh herbs from the garden. The store-brand bisque seemed a little Velveeta-like, according to our judges. They complained about a lack of lobster in the bisque and a strong butter smell, but no buttery taste. One panelist compared the taste to Cheez-Whiz and detected a bit of an iodine aftertaste. Judges called the Sam's Club sample "Italian" bisque because of the basil and other herbs in the mixture. They loved the huge chunks of lobster, though. They described the texture as thin and watery. "This one fooled us," said one panelist. "It looked great, had lots of meat and a strong bisque aroma."
Would they buy? Three of the four judges said yes. None of the judges said yes. None of the judges said yes.
Shopping information Widely available. $7.99 for a 20-ounce container at Publix. $4.99 for a 10-ounce container at Publix. $12.48 for a 48-ounce container at Sam's Club.
Also sampled: Bar Harbour ($3.19 for a 10.5-ounce can at Publix, 6 points) and Archer Farms ($5.99 for a 32-ounce container at Target, 11 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian with Pinellas County Cooperative Extension; Jim Yockey, aesthetician at Anu You Institute; Rhonda Sanderford of Yes-Homes, Smith & Associates Real Estate; and Julie Overton, consumer and mother of four.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or e-mail them to jkeeler@sptimes.com. Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to food.tampabay.com.

Taste Test: Lobster bisque 12/16/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 16, 2008 3:30am]

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