DIY: Refreshing Cooling Cloths from The Lost Kitchen in Freedom, Maine

This week we’re revisiting some of the most popular summer stories from the archives. Here’s one:

Those lucky enough to eat at The Lost Kitchen in an old mill building in Freedom, Maine, say there are a million tiny things throughout the night that will stick with you: the long wooden footbridge you have to cross to get there, the sound of the creek running outside the mill windows, and the moment that dusk falls and Erin French herself, the chef-owner-visionary behind the place, comes around to each table to light a candle. It’s details like these that prompt 20,000 people all over the world to mail in a postcard each spring, hoping to be drawn for a seat at the table. (Read about the restaurant’s story in The Lost Kitchen: A Glimpse Inside Maine’s Most Wildly In-Demand Restaurant.)

But among the most thoughtful of these details—for diners who’ve traveled 139 miles north from the Maine border through winding back roads, or from much further afield—are handmade cooling cloths, one at each place. Laid on the back of the neck or dabbed on the wrists, they’re a respite from the Maine heat and an invitation to slow down before the meal. Nancy, a member of the nearly all-female team, prepares them before each evening’s seating; we asked her for instructions, for re-creating a sliver of the experience at our own dinner parties. Here’s what she said.

Above: When we asked how to make the cloths, Nancy sent back a handwritten note with all the unplugged, intimate charm characteristic of The Lost Kitchen.

the simple cooling cloths, set out on the table. photography by greta rybu 16
Above: The simple cooling cloths, set out on the table. Photography by Greta Rybus for Remodelista.