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Kennebunkport Festival: Food, Wine, Art

Kennebunkport FestivalThe Kennebunkport Festival, which takes place during the first week in June, is a wine festival, a food festival and an art festival, all in the destination where you can sink your toes into the meaning of the term “summer vacation.” Planning for the 2012 Festival is well underway, with some of the participating chefs already revealed! You can keep up with the latest by liking the Festival on facebook.

All of us at Captain Fairfield Inn were lucky enough to enjoy several events at the 2011 Festival. Here we share with you some of our experiences…

Pop the Kennebunks

As soon as we arrived at the William Farley Estate for Pop the Kennebunks, it became clear that this was truly a celebration of everything that Kennebunkport represents: good times with great food and drink in a beautiful location. This was no ordinary backyard party; crystal chandeliers hung from the sweeping tent’s ceiling, table upon table greeted guests with savories and sweets, and at the epicenter – a large wine bar where Cellardoor Winery was bustling to serve glass after glass of their well-crafted libations. While some guests had donned their finest tuxedos, ball gowns and costume jewelry, others appeared more nonchalant, yet all were wearing the ease of the good life in Kennebunkport. The gala paid homage to all the local treats Maine is lucky to claim, like fresh oysters still salty from the sea, robust wines, and fun music by local band Secret Service. The energy that resonated from Pop the Kennebunks is a great start to the summer and initiates all the good things to come.

- Hillary & Nate

Grand TastingGrand Tasting

That first bite moment. The restaurant everyone’s been telling you to try, an artfully presented dish, ingredients you love, a novel combination or preparation… You take that bite, then pause, then – “Mmm, that’s good.” At the Grand Tasting, you get to experience that moment again and again. On a sunny early summer afternoon on the porch at The Colony Hotel, overlooking the Atlantic, we meandered from table to table, sampling food from Maine restaurants and wine from national and international wineries. There were sixty restaurants and wineries, and although we didn’t have a chance to visit all of them, there are some that still linger in our minds. David’s definitely generated some buzz with their Mushroom Risotto Balls with Lobster and Truffled Microgreens. Several people told me, “You have to try those!” They were right – amazing. The Lobster Cakes from 95 Ocean were also delicious. Hmm – a trend here? But not every restaurant elected to feature fruits of the sea – there were plenty of other choices. Chef Jonathan Cartwright presented the White Barn Inn’s Crispy Braised Beef Short Rib with Sauce Remoulade (ribs from a Maine farm, Archer Angus, in Chesterville, Maine!), and Chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, of Arrows, MC Perkins Cove and Summer Winter, showed off a steak with Mom’s Sauce (which they are now making available to their fans!). We also enjoyed wine tasting (many of the wines are represented here in Maine by Nappi Distributors), and liked C’est La Vie Pinot Noir/Syrah so much that we’ve added it to our wine list at Captain Fairfield. As the afternoon wore on, we had to make another lap around for some sweet samples. Gelato Fiasco, as usual, did not disappoint, and we loved Academe’s version of “Cookies and Milk.” We were pleasantly surprised to discover Black Dinah Chocolatiers of Isle Au Haut, Maine, and are considering offering their chocolates as an a la carte item at Captain Fairfield. Well, I’ve gone on long enough – but there were just so many memorable moments of sipping, sampling, and savoring at this year’s Grand Tasting.

- Leigh

Brews & Tunes

After enjoying the early part of the afternoon at the Grand Tasting, we headed over to Brews & Tunes, an event new to the Festival this year. The venue – the boatyard next to the Kennebunk River and the Pilot House Restaurant – set the scene for this nothing-fancy, laid-back summer party. Part of the yard was covered with a tent but many people opted to hang out in the late afternoon sun while they enjoyed several local craft beers from Maine and some great live music. We got there in time to catch most of the Gypsy Tailwind set (GT being our favorite Maine band), which was definitely enjoyed by the crowd of a hundred or so. Sadly, we just heard that this great up-and-coming group has broken up to pursue individual projects, so as it turned out we were lucky enough to have seen one of their last shows in Maine.

- Rob

How to Revel in the Fall in Kennebunkport, Maine

Often I find myself living in a world where things exist purely for their function – or they’re just there as I whiz by on my way to get another thing on my to-do list done.  But when I see the world through the eyes of my daughter, who is now nearly 9 months old, I remember that the world is full of colors, shapes, textures, sounds, scents and flavors, and we are here to experience and enjoy it.  Another thing that brings me back to this part of life is traveling.

Fall foliage at Captain Fairfield Inn

Fall foliage at Captain Fairfield Inn

Autumn in New England is rich; there is so much to experience and savor.  Of course it all starts with the New England fall foliage – vibrant hues of orange, red and gold against skies that are never as brilliantly blue as this time of year.  Enjoying the foliage starts right outside our door at Captain Fairfield Inn, your Kennebunkport inn, as we are surrounded by towering elms and maples.  The last week in September and the first two to three weeks in October are a good bet for peak foliage, but you can get help from the leaf peeping pros who provide Maine foliage maps, Maine foliage reports, Maine foliage blogs, and photos of the Maine foliage at specific locations.

How best to take in the scenery?  May we suggest a good old fashioned bike ride.  Feel invigorated and carefree as you coast along.  We are happy to arrange rentals for you.  Or even better, our Autumn Escape package will turn your stay at Captain Fairfield into a true autumn experience with bike rentals, a gourmet picnic lunch and suggested routes for your ride (just some of the included amenities!).  If you’d rather paddle than peddle, you can try an afternoon of kayaking and enjoy the foliage from the unique vantage point of the Kennebunk River.

After your adventure, you could return to the Inn and lounge outside in an Adirondack chair while enjoying a local apple and cheese board and a bottle of wine from our boutique wine list.  Maybe it has something to do with working up an appetite, but there are few things as sweet and crisp as biting into a McIntosh after a day outdoors.

No doubt that dinner is in the plans during your fall vacation.  If you are staying at Captain Fairfield Inn, you can stroll into downtown, where there are several highly recommended Kennebunkport restaurants to choose from.  Bandaloop, for one, is a great spot in the fall; you can take in the warm, funky atmosphere as you start off with a bowl of Bandaloop soup (changes daily but always delicious).  Walk back to the Inn among the historic homes, with crackling leaves beneath your feet, the smell of wood smoke in the crisp air, the starry sky above.

There is so much of the season to enjoy in Kennebunkport, but if you want to explore more of Maine, Kennebunkport makes the perfect base for day-trips up the coast to Bath, Brunswick and Camden or inland to the lakes region.  You could even plan your trip around one of Maine’s fall fairs or festivals, which show off the proud agricultural traditions of Maine and usually coincide with the harvest.  Check out the Cumberland County Fair, Strawbery Banke Museum’s Fall Festival, the Fryeburg Fair (Maine’s largest agricultural fair), Eliot Festival Days, or the York Maine Oktoberfest – all within driving distance of Kennebunkport.

If you have your own suggestions for “autumny” things that you enjoy, we’d love to know!  Share them with others at our facebook page.  Wherever you are this fall, we hope you are able to take the time to relish the pleasures the season has to offer.

A Summer Vacation in Kennebunkport: Beyond the Bush Estate

The Maine event at a classic back yard lobster bake at CFI.

We know you know. Maine means lobster. Maine means lighthouses. If this is what you’re looking for in a summer vacation, we at Captain Fairfield Inn, your Kennebunkport Bed and Breakfast, are standing by with driving directions and restaurant suggestions to help you find exactly what you’re looking for in a classic Maine vacation.

But what if whale watching and seeing the Bush Estate just doesn’t float your boat? Should you pass by Kennebunkport and start searching other destinations on Tripadvisor? Let us stop you there for just a minute, because Kennebunkport has another side to offer.

Restaurants: We are lucky to have the White Barn Inn just a mile or so from Captain Fairfield Inn, and they absolutely deserve to be so widely known. But there are so many other Kennebunkport restaurants serving up creative, innovative cuisine along with stellar service and memorable ambiance. We’ve recently written about a number of them, so check out our other blog posts here and here.

Shopping: Yes, there are several t-shirt and trinket shops. But then there are places like Minka – hip, handmade jewelry and apothecary items – and Daytrip Society – where I can’t help buying that very cool little treasure (click here to see examples) and sending it as an impromptu gift to my best college friend out in San Fran. Top it off with an ice cream cone at Aunt Marie’s for lunch (because you’re still pretty full from the creative gourmet breakfast at Captain Fairfield and hey, you’re on vacation!) and your morning’s made.

Sightseeing: You’re thinking you might not need to hit every tourist attraction – you just need one beautiful spot, maybe a book (hard copy or Kindle) and maybe some gourmet sandwiches and you could have the perfect afternoon. Simple, yet so memorable – because

We'll be happy to help you find spots off the beaten path like this anchorage in Cape Porpoise.

although you could do something similar at home, you probably won’t – and that’s exactly why you are on vacation. Visit Market Day for your provisioning needs, Kennebooks for your reading pleasures, and Captain Fairfield Inn for directions to those scenic, secluded spots.

Relaxing: Late afternoon. Forget killing time before that 8pm dinner res. Instead – Captain Fairfield Inn, wine, artisanal cheeses and charcuterie, patio, seabreezes.

The first day of your Kennebunkport getaway has been amazing, and you haven’t even gotten in your car yet.

Maybe tomorrow a daytrip to Portland, or Freeport, or Camden, or Ogunquit, or into the lakes region… Why pack and unpack, check in and check out, when you can get so much of a Maine vacation from Kennebunkport? Whatever your whims, we’ll help you figure out your plans tomorrow morning over breakfast, which will feature such creative selections as a watermelon salad on a bed of arugula with toasted pine nuts, feta cheese and a balsamic drizzle and a black bean omelette with pepperjack cheese topped with sour cream and avocado with a side of local multi-grain toast.

Rachel Room - Bold colors and Rich Textures help this room stand out.

Lastly, we must mention your room at Captain Fairfield Inn: In good weather, you probably don’t expect to spend all day in your room (but no one’s stopping you!). But we want it to be more than just a comfortable home base. We want you to walk in and say, “Wow, this is fun!” We hope our new rooms in particular will do this for you.

So, if you’ve never traveled to Kennebunkport or Maine, consider giving it a whirl. By the way, Kennebunkport is only 1 ½ hours north of Boston, and a half hour south of Portland (the nearest airport).

If you have your own insider tips on Kennebunkport or Maine, and you’d be willing to share one or two of your secrets, post them to our facebook page.

Hope to see you on the Maine coast!

Our 48 Hours in Kennebunkport

Looking into the Ramp on a nice Fall day.

We were fortunate enough to host a writer from Maine Magazine recently as she researched all of the great places to shop, stay and dine in the Kennebunks. We love Maine Magazine and couldn’t have been happier to host Melissa during her brief but busy stay at our Kennebunkport Inn. As strong believers that 48 hours is hardly enough to satiate the Kennebunkport getaway palate we encourage you to stay for longer, but if you can’t, we’ve designed a special 48 hours package just for you! To read about the package, click here.

First though, here’s our crash course on what you should see, do and eat if you are here for a couple of short but sweet days!

Rob and Leigh’s choices for a short visit to Captain Fairfield Inn

Kennebunkport Accommodations and Lodging

Captain Fairfield Inn – sorry, probably obvious but we had to get it on the “to do” list! Since we don’t live in Kennebunkport anymore, it’s a real treat when we have a chance to spend a night or two at the Inn.  Everytime we’re there we re-discover why we love Kennebunkport. We’re excited about the upcoming season and the wonderful slow pace that the quiet season offers!

Kennebunkport Dining and Restaurants:

Bandaloop – one of our favorite spots. Sit at the bar, enjoy a mojito, crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside quesadillas, Bandaloop egg rolls – rich and creamy with a port reduction sauce!

The Ramp – best burgers in town with hand cut fries (we like the malted vinegar and sea salt accompaniment). I often try to get Leigh to split a burger and a “Pulled Pig.” Best of both worlds. Again, sit at the bar and enjoy a couple of beers. This is a locals’ refuge in the winter!

Minka is a"must visit" shop right next to Ben and Jerrys.

Old Vines Wine Bar – relatively new to the scene; this is a classy joint. Mike knows his wine and preps fantastic food on the side. His soups are out of this world and the meatloaf panini – well – awesome!

50 Local – the new comer and a bit of a drive over to downtown Kennebunk, but for the hip vibe and local flavors it’s worth it. Try the Monkey Bread.

Joshua’s – Dad is the farmer, Mom is the hostess and son, Joshua is the chef. The setting is fantastic – a 1700’s house – the food is fresh and simple and the prices are reasonable. Reservations are important!

Kennebunkport Shopping and Kennebunkport Galleries

Daytrip Society – one year we did all of our Christmas shopping here! Funky, local, interesting items and the owner is an amazing graphic designer – you’ll see some of his products there.

Maine Art Gallery – a wide selection of amazing art (original and print). Craig Mooney is our favorite artist. Huge canvasses, bold colors, pastoral subject matters.

Abacus – this is Rob’s go-to spot for Leigh’s jewelry. Hand crafted jewelry, unusual artsy furniture, cute stuff. A gallery of really interesting things.

Minka – This place soothes our soul. Maine-made jewelry, candles, art – a must-stop-in shop.

The Mousam River at high tide

Kennebunkport Activities

Parsons Beach – a bit out of the way and only parking for 15 cars makes this a great bike ride from the Inn. Often deserted, never crowed, we used to walk our dog Riley here every evening.

The Bridle Trail – This trail is the old rail trail that connected the world of summer travelers to Kennebunkport’s grand hotels. The trail runs along the Mousam River in Kennebunk and is flat and easy – beautiful in the fall and even when it’s snow covered.

Laudholm Farm – miles and miles of walking trails that start high on a hill above Wells Beach and eventually wind down to a pristine white sand beach.

So that should keep you busy for 48 hours. As always, everyone at the Inn will be more than happy to help you customize your stay with us.

All the best, Rob and Leigh

Maine College Visits

Leigh and I recently had the pleasure of spending an afternoon at my college alma mater, Bates, where we enjoyed a classic Division III football game on a perfect fall day. The outcome of the Bates/Williams game isn’t important (it wasn’t a clash of DIII powerhouses) but it reminded us of when we were much much younger and considering applying to colleges. Mane has several excellent colleges. Bates, Bowdoin and Colby are perhaps the most prestigious but we also have the University of New England, University of Maine Orono, University of Southern Maine and the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor.

Clash of the college football titans...not really!

I remember the long road trips with my parents, staying at Best Westerns, Hampton Inns and Courtyard Marriots. It was fine for me but it strikes me that it would have been much more enjoyable for my parents if we had found a great bed and breakfast to make our home base for the few days in Maine.

While Kennebunkport is not too far over the border in southern Maine, it could make an excellent home base for your college visits. We are about an hour from Bates and Bowdoin and an hour and half or so from Colby College in Waterville. The University of New England is just 20 minutes up the road from us in Biddeford.

We’d love to be your Kennebunkport lodging choice during college visits! Also, consider us for Parent and Family weekends at UNE or even Bates and Bowdoin. We’ll make sure that you’re out the door in time for kick off!

By the way – southern Maine is now at Peak Foliage and we have some great deals on rooms open this week. Come on up and enjoy a classic new England foliage getaway.

Best, Rob

Kennebunkport Fall Foliage

It seems strange to say this coming off a weekend that boasted 80 degree temps, but Fall is officially here. At our Kennebunkport Maine bed and breakfast we had an amazing summer of perfect weather and if the first week of Autumn is any indication of what is to come, we say bring it on!

I think that most people are conditioned to think of Vermont or the White Mountains in New Hampshire when considering a fall foliage getaway. While western mountain destinations may be tempting when considering an early autumn escape, our experience tells us that Kennebunkport fall foliage along the Atlantic coast provides a unique visual experience. In Kennebunkport the contrast of the bright sugar maple leaves with the deep blue of the ocean and the light blue of the sky is striking.

Centuries old Sugar Maples frame the inn and turn bright red and gold throughout October.

In addition to the change in leaf color, we are fortunate enough to be exposed to the transition in dune and marsh grass – the gradual change from deep green to harvest gold has been in process for the last couple of weeks. You can see both dune grass and more typical fall foliage at Laudholm Farm and at the Rachel Carson Preserve. The other benefit of leaf peeping along the Maine Coast is that you can actually do it from the water. If you take advantage of our Autumn Escape Package, we’ll set you up with a half day kayak rental so that you can explore the Kennebunk River.

If you’d like to make your own kayak or bike rental arrangements you can do so through Coastal Kayak in Lower Village Kennebunk.

So, if you haven’t planned your foliage getaway already we’d suggest looking at the first couple weeks of October and figuring out when you can be in Kennebunkport to experience the height of Maine foliage. If you can come earlier you’ll be treated to pre-peak foliage along the coast and closer to peak foliage on drives inland.

As always, everyone at the Inn will be more than happy to help customize daytrips into the mountains or up the coast.

All the best, Rob

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