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Eating My Way Through Kennebunkport -- 1

Jenny Darigan, caterer server and teacher, offers the author delectibles from the Moroccan party
Jenny Darigan, caterer server and teacher, offers the author delectibles from the Moroccan party
Timothy Leland

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine -- It's a foodie's paradise. Eight days of eating, wine tasting, and art.

belly dancers at the Moroccan/Marrakesh Kennebunkport party
Timothy Leland

The Kennebunkport Festival, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, has brought acclaimed chefs from all over New England to this glorious setting on the Atlantic coast -- along with sybarites here to enjoy their tasty offerings. In this first week of June, Maine is finally warm enough for foodies to enjoy eating al fresco and in tents set up throughout this delightful town.

The festival began on the first day of June with a show of photography from Maine magazine and Maine+Home Design Magazine. It is continuing with a non-stop run of cocktail parties, receptions, private dinners in some of the town's most elegant homes (chefs are brought in to cook the meals), and after-parties.

We arrived on June 5 in time for the evening cocktail party at Chick's Marina, featuring a display of Hinckley yachts just outside the door. That was followed by "Pop the Kennebunks," a Moroccan/Marrakesh-themed evening with an amazing assortment of foods catered by Kitchen Chicks of Maine and wines produced by Cellardoor Winery.

Under an enormous tent with "flying Oriental carpets" that hung from the ceiling and decorations that included palm trees, camel shadow pictures and Marrakesh marketplace stations, we sampled messe of curried Israeli couscous, red pepper, golden raisins, mint and almonds, calamari with ted onion, garlic, parsley, Roma tomatoes and arugula; and lava beans with dates and orange dressing or hummus in pita bread with any or all of the above stuffed inside.

That was just one station, and the beginning of a food orgy that included lamb tagine, lamb or swordfish or vegetarian kabobs, mussels and chicken tidbits and anchovy and olive combinations on parmesan toast passed around, all delicious and accompanied by a plethora of interesting sauces.

A selection of red and white wines from Cellardoor were offered to guests, who each paid $100 for the event, but before tasting the wine, most of us first tried out one of the two creative cocktails made by the Cellardoor people: the Casablanca was a refreshing mixture of champagne, pomegranate juice, Orange Blossom and St. Germain liqueur over ice, and the Desert Nights contained extra dry vodka with Kalamata olives.

We were greeted at the door by three lovely belly dancers, and as the party warmed up more dancers came to entertain the crowd, after which the Texas-based band Matchmaker lured many of the partakers of this food orgy out onto the dance floor to work off the excess. The latter included a station filled with sweets, including chocolate truffles, covered with edible colored sparkles.

Understandably, the 450 people at the event felt lucky to be there, knowing that this was the hottest party in town and oversold.

For us, it was a delightful first taste of what will certainly be an unforgettable weekend of indulging in the best of Maine culinary skills.

(Tomorrow: Art and wood fired cuisine).

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