Amy’s Culinary Adventures at the Kennebunkport Festival: Day 2
I wake up Wednesday morning craving coffee and a run. If I’m going to experience this culinary festival the right way, by eating and drinking with wild abandon, I need balance and physical activity. The staff at the Kennebunkport Inn suggests a few running routes, and soon I’m exploring nearby neighborhoods, feeling recharged. After my run, I lounge on the deck at One Dock waiting for my friend from Portland to arrive.
A few minutes later we head to Cape Porpoise to meet other friends for lunch at The Ramp, but I have to stop at Mabels Lobster Claw for a quick lobster roll on the way. I order from the to-go window and in no time I’m handed a paper bag containing a huge lobster roll and a bag of Ruffles potato chips. We grab it and go, but a few miles down the road I make her pull over to taste this summertime treasure. There’s a ton of sweet, succulent lobster meat stuffed in a lightly toasted hot dog bun. The meat isn’t drowning in mayo or hot butter; it is what it is, lobster meat in all its glory, a traditional and satisfying sandwichor in my case, a snack before lunch!
Because of the detour, we’re a few minutes late. Our friends already ordered, but are kind enough to share their plate of onion strings with a smoky tomato sauce with us while we wait for our food. The chicken taquitos and crab cakes hit the spot, but soon everyone is up and out to tend to their afternoon plans. My friend and I decide to head to Dock Square to shop and walk off the multi-course lunch we’ve just consumed.
Before we know it, it’s time to head to the Cape Arundel Inn for a cocktail party. The renovated interior looks fresh and modern, and the view overlooking the ocean is spectacular. We take our drinks to the porch and enjoy the late afternoon breeze. The cocktail is bright, made with Double Cross vodka, canton ginger liquor, and ginger ale. The bartender dubs it the can-do attitude, and I like the sound of that. The passed appetizers are light and I enjoy the yellow tomato gazpacho with just a bit of heat, salt cod fritters, and lamb meatballs, but the spoonful of basil cured salmon, cantaloupe, saffron, and horseradish aioli is my favorite.
Its difficult to pull ourselves away from the cocktail party, but it’s time for the second Art of Dining Dinner hosted by Kathy Molloy and her husband Jack. The meal is prepared by Mel Chaiken of The Fiddlehead Restaurant in Bangor, and the wines are presented by Bettina Doulton of Cellardoor Winery. Artist David Whitbeck is one of the guests, and the conversation naturally touches on art, inspiration, and a mutual love for the state of Maine. Kathy is a natural host and I feel incredibly welcome and at ease, more like a friend than a guest.
I’m immediately offered a Bloody Mary (with either gin or vodka) with a mustard and red pepper rim and pickled fiddlehead garnish. One sip of that bloody with the hot pepper flakes and I’m a believer. Even though I’ve never been to their restaurant, I trust these people and am happy to be in their hands for the evening. Mel and her business partner Laura Albin tell me their style of cooking is world inspired comfort food. As the courses come out, I see what they mean.
We start with a scoop of basil lemon sorbet, and move right into the first course: a lobster crepe filled with mascarpone cheese and cream corn. The course is paired with dry rose, a blend of syrah and grenache that I could drink all night. But we move on to an acidic sauvignon blanc to accompany a simple salad of asparagus and Jonah crab meat, lightly tossed in a lemon, dill, sea salt, and garlic dressing. I file this dish away for a hot summer night when the thought of turning on the oven is just too much.
The entrée course is a monstrous, slow-braised beef short rib served with daikon radish, potatoes, carrots, onions, and a spicy sesame oil. The trilogy, a blend of syrah, grenach, and mouvedre, is full bodied enough to stand up to this hearty course, yet easy to drink on its own. I finish the wine, but in an effort to save room for the strawberry and blueberry ice cream, I have to throw in the towel on the beef.
After the meal, friends and I head to the Tides Beach Club for the after party. I’m still too full to sample any of the passed hors d’oervres, but try one vodka, rhubarb, and basil cocktail before it’s time to go.
Day two of the festival is even more enjoyable than the first. Each new taste, from a lobster roll to a lobster crepe, is a new experience.
Mabels Lobster Claw
124 Ocean Ave | Kennebunkport | 207.967.2562 | mabelslobster.com
77 Pier Road | Kennebunkport | 207.967.8500 | pier77restaurant.com
Cape Arundel Inn
208 Ocean Ave | Kennebunkport | 207.967.2125 | capearundelinn.com
The Fiddlehead Restaurant
84 Hammond Street | Bangor | 207.942.3336 | thefiddleheadrestaurant.com
Tides Beach Club
254 Kings Highway | Kennebunkport | 207.967.3757 | tidesbeachclubmaine.com