When people ask me about Maine, I tell them that my now husband and I took our first summer vacation there more than 10 years ago. We fell in love somewhere between the rustic shack on the sea and the smoked mussels on our plates, mussels that were beyond everything, salty, meaty and light in one bite. We fell for each other and a slightly-askew fishing village at the very tip of an island so close to Canada. We weren’t too far from our Boston lives, only about six hours, but far enough to forget the rest of everything and just be there, in love with each other, everyone and those mussels.
Over years of return trips, we made friends with locals, met farmers and fishermen, and even found a favorite local painter whose idyllic artwork graces too many walls in our home. We fell so hard that we even went so far as to get married up there, somehow convincing 100 people to make the oh-so-long journey to celebrate our vows, stuff our faces with fresh fish from the nearby waters and dance all night into the first morning of the rest of our lives. Idyllic, indeed.
On every visit back to Maine, like clockwork, I fall in love with my husband and everything all over again. I get so energized by the pop-up community that forms around us, that always forms around you when you visit a place like Maine. The people are so ready to know you, support you and certainly be just a little amused by you. It’s okay, really. They have a little sparkle in their eye that tells the whole truth — they know they’ve found heaven and are happy to lend it out to you for a short while.
I spent two days in Kennebunkport, Maine last month (as a guest of the Kennebunkport Resort Collection) and it happened all over again. I met some pretty amazing new people, reconnected and became even closer to some old friends, and quite honestly, didn’t want to leave. Our little group of friendlings hiked all over the town, covered in feet of snow and ice, to make cocktails with bartenders, eat big dinners, snuggle up in a local bar, make art, sip drinks at an ice bar and did I mention that we ate a lot of gorgeous dinners?!
On our first night in Kennebunkport, we had big bowls of seafood fra diavolo and wood-fired pizza at Abbondante, a trattoria and bar. I sat up against the big fireplace, giggling with friends, scheming up ways to return.
On our second night, we had one of the best meals of our lives, for sure. Chef Justin Walker and his team at Earth at Hidden Pond treated us to course after course of mind-boggling dishes, familiar and brand new at once. Think peekytoe crab, umeboshi, kafir lime, serrano and sea urchin emulsion. And then there was wood-fired broccoli, avocado, white asparagus, kimchi, jerky and crispy garlic. Or nudi, acorn squash, pecorino, black truffle and maple-apple concentrate. Um, I’ve got to sit down now…
The wine was the perfect compliment but I’m pretty certain our rosy cheeks were also due to the shock of our supreme luck to get to enjoy a meal from his hands. I don’t think we’ll ever forget it. (Read about Chef Walker’s Veggie Panna Cotta in Bon Appetit.)
Over our 48 hours in Kennebunkport, we drank (like fishes) into the early morning hours and I fell for my next favorite cocktail, a Beet Old Fashioned (which I’ll share in a follow up post in a few weeks!) And on Sunday morning, we made the short drive back to Boston. We’re hoping to get back up there in spring, once some of the snow around us all melts, but I don’t doubt a return trip. I’ve got to eat, drink, and amuse the locals.
I’m pretty good at that, no doubt.
You have to know, you must know, that everything I write here is my own — my own words, opinion, and story. As well, this post was created in partnership with the folks at the Kennebunkport Resort Collection, a grouping of hotels, inns and restaurants that made every moment of our visit just perfect. Thank you, as well, to the fabulous Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons for being such a sweet host.
Photos taken and appear courtesy of Douglas Merriam.
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