Going on a culinary adventure

love-opera-victoria-bakerWhen I was a little girl I was brought up with the French dictum “One must eat to live and not live to eat”. But now that I’m all grown up I realize I need not apply it all the time.

After all, eating is something we do at least three times a day, so we might as well enjoy it. I find that diets are too often about guilt and deprivation and not enough about balance and pleasure. I keep a strict diet and exercise routine, go to the gym every day and don’t eat many carbs but at least twice a month I also treat myself to a bacchanal of culinary delights.

Last month I treated myself to a meal of epic proportions. My best gastronome friend and I drove to Maine in search of the Holy Grail of culinary experiences: and we found it.

Jonathan Cartwright is an award winning chef and native of England. I first experienced his culinary creations in Newport, RI at his restaurant Muse inside the Vanderbilt Grace, but decided to follow him to his other Relais & Chateaux restaurant in Kennebunkport, Maine…the infamous White Barn Inn. www.whitebarninn.com.

For years I’d been reading about it as the ne plus ultra in New England dining experiences, I had to check it out for myself.

After a hectic journey we were greeted by a much needed afternoon tea, exceptionally friendly service and a roaring fireplace. We stayed at the White Barn Inn. The rooms are all beautifully appointed and we befriended other culinary adventurers who were also eagerly anticipating the gastronomic event that evening. There was a general buzz in the air as guests and staff alike were preparing for the dinner experience.

Once again, Chef Cartwright blew me away. A succession of exquisite dishes waltzed through my evening. There was an amuse bouche of dizzyingly fresh Maine smoked salmon, butter poached lobster, succulent wagyu beef with merlot reduction, lighter than air chocolate soufflé. They all danced through my experience gracefully.

Fine dining is an art which encompasses so much more than what’s on the plate. There’s the timing, the service, presentation. All these came together at the White Barn Restaurant like a perfectly synchronized ballet that causes each bite to spend a moment on the lips but a lifetime worth of memories.

After dinner we listened to the final strains of the live piano player before heading to the fireplace with a glass of sherry to discuss our meal. Chef Cartwright understands something the French have known for years: eating is not about the brief moment of taste. It’s about the preparation, the anticipation, the visual stimulation, the ambience, the accoutrements, the ceremony. It’s the prolongation of a beautiful moment that makes it such an art form.

Victoria Baker, of Greenwich, is an opera singer. Winner of many prestigious competitions, she has performed and worked with distinguished artists all over the world (notably at Lincoln Center). Should you have any questions that deserve answers and may be in print please call 203-531-7499 or e-mail [email protected]

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