Foliage to feast
By Charlene Peters
The bounty of autumn’s ambiance is New England’s visual feast. So, before the crisped and fallen burnt red and orange hued leaves crackle underfoot, plan to take a scenic foliage drive to embrace this favored New England season. Whether you are native to New England or here for a visit, driving from state to state is possible and recommended — if not for the backdrop of crisp blue sky amid a lineup of maple trees bursting in shades of golden yellow, bright oranges and reds, but for the culinary experiences along the way.
If you’re looking for a good place to start, grab your navigator and plug in Kennebunk for a stay at the old Boothby Boarding House, circa Civil War days before the unveiling of White Barn Inn, located on the border of Kennebunkport in Kennebunk, Maine. To dine inside the 125-year-old farmhouse is a treat in itself.
The open floor-to-ceiling architectural design of the White Barn Inn restaurant is adorned with farm animal décor, beginning with a large sculpture of a rooster overhead as if alerting patrons that dinner will be served in a barn. But within this farmhouse is one of the utmost luxurious barns in New England, not to mention a most popular spot for luxury dining. For 20 years, it was where Chef Jonathan Cartwright could be found almost every night of the week, turning out multiple and incomparable courses. Ever watchful was a young Derek Bissonnette, who began as a pastry chef at White Barn Inn in 1999, and since 2009 as Executive Sous Chef. Recently he has taken over the reins of Cartwright and runs the kitchen as the innovative Executive Chef of this Relais & Chateaux property.
Bissonette’s fall menu will showcase venison loin and pheasant breast, while the sweeter side of dessert will include the ever-popular tiny, flavorful Maine blueberries in a soufflé served with lemon sorbet and mascarpone sauce (see Blueberry Soufflé recipe featured in the Forks, Corks and Cocktails section). According to Bissonette, this dessert is best paired with a flute of Madame Pommery Champagne. Fall is a favorite season for Bissonette, who says the White Barn Inn menu “will reflect the seasonal products that we will forage locally and display in our unique way.” Like many New Englanders, fall foliage season is his favorite time of year.
Another beautiful destination drive during peak foliage season is during the end of September/early October for a stop at Stowe Village in Vermont, where stops along the way include shopping, visual treats of the majestic landscape, and lunch outdoors on a beautiful Indian summer day. With its extravagant décor and exquisite landscape, Topnotch Resort is the perfect spot for a farm-to-table lunch on the patio of Flannel. Another option is to head to The Roost for cool, hip appetizers that include stuffed clams, fried avocado, shrimp dumplings and kale bruschetta.
Nearby, Stowe Mountain Lodge is where you can dine at the exquisite Solstice and enjoy farm-raised and local cheeses that accommodate the eco-conscious foodies. And for the beer connoisseurs, Crop Bistro & Brewery awaits for lunch (cheddar-lager soup) and a tour of the small brewery . Whatever you choose to do, eat and drink, enjoy the ride!