Kennebunkport is a quaint coastal village located at the far southeast corner of Maine, about a 45-minute drive from Portland. Perhaps best known as the home of the Bush compound, it’s both a major tourist destination during the summer months and a natural location for folks to have summer houses; the whole town is chock-full of impeccably-maintained sea captains’ mansions from the 1700s. While the town tends to get pretty crowded after July 4, in June it’s still a quiet, peaceful village, and the weather couldn’t be nicer. For that reason, the Kennebunkport Festival was held last week, and the events, which ranged from big walk-around tastings to private dinner parties, were spectacular, and the proceeds went to a great cause: Share Our Strength, which works to eliminate child hunger.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the festival was primarily comprised of intimate dinners held at private homes, which are quite uncommon for most festivals. Chefs from some of the best restaurants in Maine took over the kitchens in these gorgeous houses, and guests had the opportunity to sit at the owners’ dinner table with other guests and enjoy the home-cooked meal. I attended a dinner at the Spenlinhauer residence prepared by chef Fred Eliot of Portland’s Petite Jacqueline, and everything from the housemade charcuterie to the roasted Long Island duck breast with spring vegetables was delicious.
Other events included a cocktail reception at a beautiful marina, a Moroccan-themed walk-around tasting under the big tent called POP the Kennebunks, a dinner at the stunning Wells Reserve based on wood fire with chefs including Pichet Ong, an outdoor event on the lawn featuring live music, beer, and food trucks, an afternoon walk-around tasting featuring bites from some of Maine’s finest restaurants, and a finale held at one of the town’s best restaurants, with an open bar, passed hors d’oeuvres, and a raw bar located right on the water. All the while, guests had the opportunity to sample some of the town’s other claims to fame, including one of the best lobster rolls in the country at the Clam Shack.
With spectacular views, plenty of water, gorgeous old mansions, and world-class dining, Kennebunkport lives up to all expectations. It’s only an hour and a half drive from Boston and a 45-minute flight from New York City, and is a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s a small enough town that a stroll through Dock Square and the surrounding area can give you a great sense of the quaint village, and transport you back in time as well. It’s also a short drive to Portland, a city that no visitor to the area should leave without visiting.
If you’re looking to take advantage of those beautiful late spring weekends, a trip up to Kennebunkport is a great idea. And if your trip happens to fall during the Kennebunkport festival, that’s an even better idea. Read on for the some of the best bites from this year’s festival as well as a few shots of the beautiful scenery.
The Main Tent
Both the POP The Kennebunks and the Grand Tapas Party were held under this tent, which was located on a rock right in the heart of Dock Square.
Lobster Crostini with Marinated Vegetables and Sofrito
Served by chef Brandon Blethen of Robert’s Maine Grill