A Taste of Grace at the White Barn Inn
The White Barn Inn’s Taste of Grace event was a truly enchanting scene. Many think of coastal views when they think of the Kennebunks, but the White Barn Inn offers a woodsy perspective. Set inside two restored 1820s barns, the restaurant is warm, intimate, and the perfect place to celebrate a special event. For the annual dinner at the Kennebunkport Festival, the White Barn staff led guests to the pool in the back of the property where a tent was set up beneath a canopy of trees. As guests arrived, they passed Chef Jonathan Cartwright who was hard at work on the grill, preparing the evening’s main course of lamb.
While awaiting dinner, attendees were invited to build a plate from a selection of cheeses and charcuterie that included Opus 42 from Rockport-based Lakin’s Gorges Cheese, as well as halloumi and Stilton cheese. Staff offered advice on delicious pairings from homemade crackers to soft breads. Guests then made their way over to a canoe filled with ice and a colorful selection of fresh and raw seafood. Spinney Creek oysters were served with a choice of toppings, including mignonette sauce of red wine vinaigrette, shallots, and black peppercorn. The lobster meat was served in a carved lobster shell, and guests could enjoy it with lemon wedges or drawn butter. ”We have great fishermen around here and we have great suppliers so the seafood is not even a day old when it gets to us,” says Cartwright. Once you cook with that kind of freshness you can’t go wrong.
Cartwright, originally from England, has traveled extensively and has worked with numerous chefs worldwide. According to Cartwright, each time they work together in the kitchen there is an exchange of ideas. The Taste of Grace was about this exchange. While much of the seafood was gathered locally, Cartwright explains that the ceviche station was inspired by chef Pedro Masoliver at Grace Panama in Panama City, Panama. Pastry chef Gabby Cote combined fresh Alaskan salmon, local scallops, and tuna, and added avocado, mango, along with onions, lemon juice, and garlic. The main course was inspired by chef Javier Robles of Grace Cafayate located in Salta, Argentina. On a visit to that hotel, Cartwright worked with Robles as he cooked a whole cow over an open fire. At the White Barn Inn, Cartwright opted for lamb, which he cooked over hot embers and applied a sauce made with diced onions, garlic, olive oils, and herbs straight from the garden. Cartwright hand-delivered the dish, and the lamb was placed on a bed of quinoa that was made with vegetable stock and diced vegetables to add just the right texture for the meal.
Guests gathered around the cocktail tables, sampling appetizers and drinks while seven-piece band Sly Chi performed across the pool. As the evening cooled, a soft drizzle began to fall, but the heated tent and candles on every table offered warmth and ambience while the pool’s surface danced with ripples. Cote reemerged with desserts including homemade vanilla, roasted blueberry, and chocolate ice creams that were served with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, strawberry sauce, macerated berries, chocolate pearls, and candied peanuts. Next to the pool, a smores station included homemade blueberry marshmallows for roasting along with white chocolate and Cotes graham cracker, which made for a decadent sandwich that was a sweet ending to the night.