Amy’s Culinary Adventures at the Kennebunkport Festival: Day 5

For me, the last day of the Kennebunkport festival is as exciting as the first. The Grand Tasting held under the tent in Kennebunk’’s lower village is a massive exposition of food and wine from across the state. I don’’t even know where to start when I enter; I don’’t want to miss anything!

We start our grazing tour at the far end of the tent and take the first bite at the Boothbay Harbor’’s Spruce Point Inn table. The scallop and shrimp ceviche with grapefruit and pink peppercorn is bright and acidic and beautifully paired with the accompanying wine—a dry pouilly-fuisse made with chardonnay grapes. Every booth in the tent features a representative dish from a restaurant, inn, or specialty food company, paired with a wine from a different distributer. There’s music playing, people are chatting with chefs and wine experts, all while sampling some of the best food and wine that Maine has to offer. I run into the new friends I’’ve made this week; I’’ve met a wonderful mix of homeowners, artists, business owners, writers, wine makers, and food lovers.

When it comes to the food, some of the culinary highlights include dishes from Earth in Kennebunkport, Francine Bistro in Camden, and Trattoria Athena in Brunswick. Earth’’s fried Nonesuch oyster with a shallot, thyme, and sherry vinegar sauce, and the burrata with arugula, meyer lemon, and avocado are two of the most delicious bites all afternoon. The burrata is creamy and the lemon adds a pop of brightness, while the oyster is juicy and briny under the crunch of the light batter. They are paired with Cellardoor Winery’’s sauvignon blanc and grenache—, exquisite wine for beautiful food. The squid and whelk salad from Francine Bistro is also packed with flavor; its consistency is soft and delicate, and the two sauces, olive and red pepper, meld together in harmony. I also love the pungent flavor of mackerel and bluefish, and Trattoria Athena’s smoked mackerel crostini is a winner for me.

Following the sounds of Spencer Albee and the League of Bandsmen, we check out the Brews and Tunes event on the River Green at the Captain Lord Mansion. We eat our fill at the Small Axe food truck run by Portland chefs Bill Leavy and Karl Deuben. My friends and I try the corn dog, cheeseburger handpie, local veggie flatbread, and lemonade. The corn dog is made with local beef and pork, wrapped in lamb casings. The batter is light, crunchy, and perfectly doughy. The shabu shabu dipping sauce, with sesame, ginger, and tahini, takes the yellow mustard accompaniment to a new level. The handpies are little pockets of goodness, and once again Leavy and Deuben make it their own by adding ketchup spiked with gochujang, a sweet and spicy Korean chili paste.

We return to the grand tasting to sample the rest of the food and wine, and enter a loud and lively tent. People are dancing (I see a conga line) and the wine is flowing. I make note of the restaurants I have to visit in the coming months, and armed with a recipe book and list of wines, I hope to recreate a few dishes at home.

One dish I’’ve heard talked up again and again this week is the mussels and blue cheese cream at One Dock at the Kennebunkport Inn. Even though I’’m staying with the Kennebunkport Inn, I haven’’t had an opportunity to eat at the restaurant. But tonight, before the grand finale, I make the time. This dish is delicious, salty, and addictive. The blue cheese, mussels, and bacon work well together, and the hearty grilled bread soaks up the blue cheese sauce perfectly.

We have little time to devour the meal before it’’s time to head to David’s KPT for the final event. The space is breathtaking—with the open concept, gorgeous view, and beautiful woodwork it’s truly stunning. There are too many passed appetizers to mention, but the French fries with truffle ketchup, duck sandwiches, beef tartare, pork tenderloin, and salmon roulade are incredibly impressive. Chefs on the wrap-around deck prepare lobster cakes to order, and serve oysters, littleneck clams, and shrimp from the raw bar. Inside, I find a flatbread pizza station and an assorted cheese and fruit display. The drinks flow all night, and before long the dance floor is packed. It’’s a grand finale to remember.

This festival embodies the best of Maine. There’’s great food and wine, talented and creative people, art, music, and fundraising, all in a gorgeous coastal community. Not only did I enjoy every minute of it, I was also made to feel comfortable and welcome. I can’’t wait for next year.


David’s KPT
21 Ocean Ave, Kennebunkport | 207.967.8225 |
Earth at Hidden Pond Kennebunkport


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