Do you head to the beach at 5pm? While most people have packed up, and are having their requisite shower, siesta and evening cocktail, I am making my way to set up camp on the sand. I love evening beach picnics and have been partaking in them since I was a little girl. My family used to meet our friends at the Shawmut Inn in Kennebunkport and walk over the rocks in front of the main house to a stony beach where there was a natural granite ring that provided us with a cooking spot, and places to stage our games. The evenings would end with s’mores and heated stand-offs in capture the flag.
I loved these nights, with plates filled high with charred corn-on-the-cob, lobster, bbq chicken, and buttery hot steamers.
Now, we head to Goose Rocks or Mother’s Beach. We keep it simple, cooking everything beforehand and packing our bags lightly. There is a sweet community of locals that head out at dusk, bringing chairs, blankets, fire supplies and a cooler. The kids always swim, no matter how cold the water or whether the sun is setting. They always occupy themselves with watching the day’s sandcastles wash away, games of tag, or endless play with light sticks.
It a glorious time, as the salt air mixes with the flavors of the food, no matter how simple the sandwich or bag of chips.
Here are some of the tips we have learned over the years:
French Bread sandwiches are our go-to meal. They pack well and are easily hand held without getting sloppy. You can pack meat and veggies into the bread and wrap them tightly to be hand-held, all-in-one meals. Our standby is turkey with cucumber, lettuce and mayo, and our new favorite is prosciutto, salami and roasted eggplant with a roasted red pepper spread called muhmarra. Wraps and subs are also great as a complete dinner.
Great to-go sandwiches can be found at Bennett’s Country Store, Old Salt’s Pantry, H B Provisions, Market Day, Kitchen Chick’s Cafe, and Ashby’s Deli. (Local to Kennebunkport, Maine)
If you want to bring more, keep it to one to two side dishes like a chop salad and chips. They are easy to serve up on a small plate and can be transported in one container or their own bag.
If you plan to have a fire, you must have a permit. Check in with your local police department for regulations. Bring your own wood and do not scour the dunes and grasses for supplies. Smoking out your picnicking neighbors by burning wet seaweed is also a faux-pas. Make sure to bring flashlights and even small head lamps to pack up, making sure small items like car keys or wallets are kept in a secure easy to get to location.
Alcohol must be kept in plastic containers or cannot be brought to the beach. Check with your local town office for rules.
Pack out what you pack in. Make sure you keep all trash contained. Bring a roll of paper towels as napkins and for cleanup. For the kids, we bring cornstarch baby powder to remove sand and wipes to clean hands.
Enjoy your evening. Sitting in our chairs, watching our children play, and enjoying a delicious meal is one of the greatest rewards in life.
Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons