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An Innkeeper’s Secrets: Easy Ways to Decorate Your Plate

August 22nd, 2014 by abedofroses

Chilled Raspberry Peaches

Chilled Raspberry Peaches

We really do “eat with our eyes first”. How a dish looks on the plate plays a large role in whether we decide to eat it or not and it also enhances the sensory experience tremendously. Even though I was an artist and illustrator before becoming an innkeeper, you don’t have to be an artist to make beautiful, appealing dishes than invite your guests to taste the food and savor each bite. A colorful garnish that looks special can be so easy to put together. Fresh ingredients are always key, but a few slices here and a twist there can make it look really special. Here are some easy tips on decorating the plate.

Remember three rules for creating an appealing plated dish:

  1. Color WheelTaste- when garnishing a plate the first consideration should be, will it taste good? Will the taste of the garnish go well with the rest of the meal? A good garnish is edible! Going to elaborate lengths to create a dramatic look is unnecessary and futile if the eater doesn’t want to consume it.
  2. Color- a plate needs contrast. If all the dishes are monochromatic you lose an opportunity to create interest. Contrasting colors in a garnish like a red tomato and green herbs or bell peppers work well. Complementary colors are at the opposite sides of a color wheel, like red and green or yellow and blue, but use common sense. Not all colors occur naturally in foods and you do want it to look edible! An organic edible flower may provide the right contrasting color too.
  3. Complementing tastes, colors and shapes make an inviting plate

    Complementing tastes, colors and shapes make an inviting plate

    Shape- Pleasing shapes can be created just by how the food is arranged. Fanning a sliced strawberry or avocado creates a harmonious shape. Arranging a few slices of plumb tomato in an arc does the same. Think in threes and curves instead of in straight lines.

For a sweet meal, like our orange stuffed French toast or Peaches with orange sauce in a puff pancake, a sliced orange with a small cut from the middle to the outer edge can be twisted to make a lovely nest for a sliced and splayed strawberry or an organically grown flower.  I love to use nasturnum. For the strawberry, wash and hold with the stem side down, then thinly slice without cutting to the stem- just enough that you can smoosh the strawberry to splay the slices.

Nest a splayed strawberry on a twisted orange slice

Nest a splayed strawberry on a twisted orange slice

For a savory meal, slice a tomato and decorate it with contrasting colored sliced peppers and a sprig of fresh curly parsley or a scored cucumber. Wash and cut the cucumber in half, then take a sharp tined fork and run it down the sides of the cucumber making shallow cuts at even intervals. Then thinly slice crosswise and place on top of the tomato slice. A bell pepper can be cut in half lengthwise, from stem to bottom, and then thinly sliced across. You can also create a bell pepper ring by cutting a circle around the stem, removing the center seeds and membrane and then slicing across. Arrange the slices by crossing them or the rings by layering them in threes like an Olympic seal.

If your main dish is a spicy southwestern or Mexican dish you can top your tomato with fresh cilantro. To garnish an Italian main dish, like our Italian Egg Cups with Proscuito de Parma, you can top your tomato with a fresh basil leaf or a Rosemary sprig. We always have plenty of fresh herbs growing in our “kitchen garden”. Parsley, chives, thyme, rosemary and mint are easy to grow and always look fresh and inviting on the plate.

Cilantro grilled chicken with rice pilaf decorated with avocado.

Cilantro grilled chicken with rice pilaf decorated with avocado and plumb tomatoes.

Avocado adds a creamy cooling taste to any spicy dish and is decorative as well. While working at a French Restaurant right out of college I learned how to thinly slice a peeled avocado and then gently push on it to splay the slices on the plate. All it really needs is a touch of salt and fresh ground pepper, but you can also slide slices of tomato between the slices or drizzle with a little balsamic glaze. Top it with a shaving of fresh Parmesan Regianno and it’s heavenly to taste and to look at.

Bon Appetit!

Art Deco Architecure in Asheville. Ellington’s City Hall Re-emerges from Behind It’s Scaffolding.

July 28th, 2014 by abedofroses

Asheville's Art Deco City Hall

Asheville’s Art Deco City Hall

Asheville City Hall is about to emerge, renewed from a 6 million dollar renovation project that began in November 2012. The scaffolding and netting has begun to come down and by the end of the year we will again be able to fully appreciate one of Asheville’s architectural jewels. Several Art Deco buildings of rich variety can be found in Asheville and we count ourselves very lucky to enjoy the ornamental detailing they reveal.

The Architecture of downtown Asheville is incredibly varied and spans several styles popularized between the 1880, when the railroad arrived and doubled Asheville’s population, and the early 1930s, when the Depression hit Asheville hard. At that time construction ground to a halt due to Asheville’s decision to pay off it’s debt rather than go bankrupt. In the 50 years that it took to accomplish that feat many historic buildings were spared from the destruction wrought in the name of urban renewal.

The City Building and the Courthouse were both built in 1928

The City Building and the Courthouse were both built in 1928

In 1928 both the conservative neoclassical Buncombe County Courthouse and the glorious Art Deco Asheville City Hall were built side by side, offering a striking and delightful contrast in styles. Architect Douglas Ellington designed City Hall as well as several other important Art Deco buildings in the area. The First Baptist Church is an Ellington design. A lovely tiled dome topped with a copper cupola sits above the octagonal main auditorium.

The dome of the Baptist Church designed by Ellington

The dome of the Baptist Church designed by Ellington

Art Deco decorative patterns adorn a more neoclassical design here, as it does on the Federal Court House built in 1929 and designed by James Wetmore and the Grove Arcade. The Asheville High school by Ellington has many similarities in style to City Hall. Ellington’s S&W Cafeteria in the heart of downtown drips with rich Art Deco detailing as well. The Wick and Green Building, housing Wick and Green Jewelers is a lovely Art Deco design that originated as a gas station!

Art Deco Detailing on the S&W Building

Art Deco Detailing on the S&W Building

When visiting Asheville be sure to take advantage of one of the Historic Asheville tours.

  • The Asheville Urban Trail is a self guided tour designed by volunteers and created by the City of Asheville to improve Asheville through public art. Symbols representing five historical eras are carved into pink granite along the trail and each of the 30 stations along the walk includes a piece of art or a bronze plaque that describes it. Urban Trail maps are available at Pack Place, The Visitors Center, many downtown stores and most B&Bs, including A Bed of Roses.
  • History at Hand offers guided tours of Downtown, the Montford Historic District and the Historic Riverside Cemetery, located right here in Montford.
  • Asheville Tours also offers a 90 minute guided Downtown Architectural History Walking Tour.
  •  Asheville Mountain Magic offers a self-guided walking tour on their website that is informative and covers all of the architectural styles displayed downtown. 

    Beautiful tile work adorns the S&W Building

    Beautiful tile work adorns the S&W Building

 

 

 

 

 

Innkeepers’ Secrets: Fresh Home-baked Cookies from Scratch in a Flash

June 21st, 2014 by abedofroses

Cookies for now and later too

Cookies for now and later too

Nothing beats warm cookies made from scratch the old fashioned way. But we’re all busy and sometimes it seems like too much trouble for just a few cookies. Innkeepers need to have fresh baked cookies available every day whether they have two guests or 14 guests and we can’t get away with anything but the best homemade recipes. Guests expect variety too! You can’t put out the same cookies all week. The way we do it is to make large batches, bake only the number of cookies we need and quick-freeze the extra dough in individual cookie portions.

Place the dough in a glass baking dish

Place the dough in a glass baking dish

The next time you need cookies you take only the number you need out of the freezer, let them defrost on the cookie sheet for a few minutes and bake. Instant cookies that taste just a delicious as they did the day you mixed up the dough!

A one-tablespoon ice cream style scooper is an invaluable tool for this job. Once you’ve scooped and placed the dough you’re baking today onto cookie sheets, scoop the rest of the dough into large glass baking dishes, just far enough apart that they don’t touch each other.

Pop the frozen cooked into a zip lock bag

Pop the frozen cooked into a zip lock bag

Put in the freezer for 30 minutes. Take them out of the freezer and with a little twist of the wrist you can take each cookie off of the baking dish and throw them into a large zip lock freezer bag. Return to the freezer until the next time you crave that home-baked goodness. We keep several different kinds of cookie in the freezer so we can change them every day or mix and match, so be sure to label the bags. Easy!

Ambrozia- An Unlikely Location Hides a Real Gem of a Restaurant

June 8th, 2014 by abedofroses

Ambrozia Bar + Bistro

Ambrozia Bar + Bistro

When we saw that Ambrozia Bar + Bistro was one of the finalists in the Fire on the Rock Competition Dining Series we were surprised to learn that they were located right here in North Asheville. Why didn’t we know about them? When they won the competition we had to find them and eat there! It turns out that Ambrozia is only about a year old and is tucked in a little unassuming strip mall. The location, on busy Merrimon Avenue, is in an area of Asheville that doesn’t attract a lot of tourism, with its grocery stores and drug store chains. The space used to house a sandwich shop and they kept one unusual and interesting feature. The restaurant occupies two adjacent store-fronts, with one housing the restaurant and the other the kitchen. Glass shop windows give you a full view of the kitchen staff from the street. In the restaurant portion the shotgun layout, with a bar on one side and tables on the other. has been given new life with the addition of subtle lighting, glass and wood.

A Beautiful Melon Salad

A Beautiful Melon Salad

When we arrived for our reservation we were struck with how friendly the staff was and how they seemed to already know many of the other customers. It appears this gem of a restaurant was already a well-known secret to many North Asheville and Beaver Lake residents! The menu was eclectic and promising, focusing on fresh farm to table cuisine with many influences – Southern, Southwestern, Asian, Caribbean, all with a twist. When the first course arrived we knew we were in for a treat. Compressed watermelon and cantaloupe squares topped with a layer of feta cheese were lined up on a long plate and garnished with watercress, candied jalapeno jam with a vanilla bean vinaigrette. The Seared Elk Carpaccio had looked tempting too, but we couldn’t imagine being happier than we were with the refreshing, salty sweet salad. My short rib special was perfectly tender and full of flavor.

Their chef won the Fire on the Rock Dining Competition

Their chef won the Fire on the Rock Dining Competition

The wine list was extensive and the beer list was even more impressive with our own local craft beers represented, but also craft brews from all over the country. The attentive, friendly service was equally impressive. There seemed to be an “ownership” feel permeating the staff. When I explored the restaurant’s background I could see why. The chef/owner, Sam Etheridge relocated to Asheville from Albuquerque, NM, where he ran Ambrozia Café and Wine Bar and Nob Hill Bar and Grill. When he relocated several of the staff members from his previous restaurants came with him and together with some stellar additions from the Asheville area they have created a restaurant that tastes good and feels good. Congratulations Sam!

What a Glorious May at A Bed of Roses- Where to See Spring Flowers in Asheville

May 25th, 2014 by abedofroses

Our Gardens this May

Our Gardens this May

May was a glorious month in Western North Carolina. It’s hard to believe Memorial Day is already here and in Asheville the spring bulbs are giving way to roses in abundance. The gardens at the Biltmore Estate have a fabulous display that you shouldn’t miss.  The Biltmore International Rose Trials competition was just held on May 24th. Twelve categories of roses were judged this year coming from breeders in Canada, France Ireland, Germany, and the UK as well as from the US. The roses were planted in the historic gardens two years ago and cared for by their expert horticulturalists in anticipation of this day. Our own rose garden displays an example of an heirloom variety rose bush from the Biltmore greenhouses, a memento from a lovely past guest.

A Bed of Roses Front Porch overlooks the Rose Gardens

A Bed of Roses Front Porch overlooks the Rose Gardens

All of Asheville is filled with beautiful gardens this time of year. Don’t miss the beautiful gardens and fascinating displays at the North Carolina Arboretum while you’re in Asheville this Spring and Summer. They are located within the Bent Creek Experimental Forest of the Pisgah National Forest just southwest of downtown Asheville and a stone’s throw from the Blue Ridge Parkway.  They hosted the Asheville-Blue Ridge Rose Society Exhibition May 24th and 25th.  They also have a wonderful Bonzai collection and woodland trails.

Trillium at the Asheville Botanical Gardens

Trillium at the Asheville Botanical Gardens

And for native plant gardens The Botanical Gardens at Asheville located adjacent to the UNC Asheville campus offers beautiful wooded trails dotted with native flowers and plants, with informative labels. They are run by an independent non-profit organization and include a wide collection of plants native to the Southern Appalachian Mountains. These Gardens are walking distance from A Bed of Roses along a soon to be completed Greenway, The Reed Creek Greenway.

You can also enjoy abundant flowers in right in our own neighborhood. The historic Montford District is a wonderful place to stroll and take in the carefully tended gardens. See our photo gallery to see how truly glorious May has been in our own gardens at A Bed of Roses. You can even see our newly planted kitchen garden where we hope to harvest lots of fresh herbs and luscious vegetables for our  gourmet breakfasts this Spring and Summer.

Moogfest 2014 is Here!

April 25th, 2014 by abedofroses

The Moog Store and Factory on Broadway

The Moog Store and Factory on Broadway

You can tell that Moogfest has arrived in Asheville by all the young people walking around downtown dressed in black with their heads tilted down reading their phones. It’s the dressed in black part that’s different from every day in downtown Asheville! Just kidding. The occasional strange looking head gear (see the video below)  may give it away too! Moogfest describes itself as The Synthesis of Technology, Art & Music. For 5 days, at locations scattered around the city lectures, workshops, interviews and visual/musical installations and performances are taking place with some of it free to the public. A look at the schedule is astounding in terms of the breadth and range of the experiences being offered. Experimental music, art and technology is a perfect match for Asheville.

Electronic music pioneer Bob Moog

Electronic music pioneer Bob Moog

It all started with Bob Moog, the inventor of the Moog Synthesizer and founder of Moog Music. A pioneer in electronic music, Moog spent the early 1990s as a research professor of music at the University of North Carolina here in Asheville and died here in 2005. The Bob Moog Foundation is based here as is the Moog Store and Factory. Moog Music brought Moogfest to Asheville in 2008 as a 3 day multi-stage electronic music festival featuring contemporary bands that exemplified the innovative spirit of Moog. This year the festival has exploded to become so much more!


Just one example of the dynamic new focus of the festival is an installation that allows you to compose music through the electrical activity of your brain using the head gear referred to earlier. Participants are invited to wander around the city creating an audio-visual  experience in response to the environment. Very cool.

The Masonic Temple is one Moogfest venue

The Masonic Temple is one Moogfest venue

There’s an area with Theramins that you can experiment with, new media art installations and a “Modular Marketplace” that are all open to the public, as well as many of the concerts.  I checked out a “Durational Performance” at the Center for Creative Design that was a continuous multimedia electronic music experience, one of several taking place over the 5 days.

The panels, films and work shops include conversations with music pioneers, philosophers, technology leaders and more. Economic development and just plain networking is going on along with the cool music and art. It’s definitely an event!

DOUGH in Asheville makes even baking Croissants a Success for the Home Cook!

April 15th, 2014 by abedofroses

Croissants ready to rest in the "Proof Box"

Croissants ready to rest in the “Proof Box”

I love to cook and I get plenty of practice making breakfast for our guests at A Bed of Roses, but the idea of baking croissants from scratch was pretty intimidating even for me! Pastry Chef Ali Caulfield at DOUGH in Asheville got me, along with a class of 10 or so other home bakers, over our fears this past week in a fun 2 day evening class. DOUGH is an innovative chef-owned market and bakery in North Asheville that also offers an ever-changing freshly made menu of sandwiches, salads and pizzas to eat there in the market or to take out. But the wonderful cooking classes and special events that they offer makes DOUGH totally unique, even for Asheville. Most classes are one-day courses, 2-3 hours each and include everything from cooking Thai or Moroccan food to making handmade pasta or mastering the art of the French Macaroon. They have some Parent-Child Pizza Workshops, too that look like a lot of fun. Even in our class we had a family. The parents and their two daughters have taken several classes at DOUGH and the girls did a wonderful job!

Chef Ali Caulfield demonstrates for the class

Chef Ali Caulfield demonstrates for the class

Lawyers, students, real estate agents, retired professionals and one nervous innkeeper all dug in to learn the art of baking croissants hands-on and the flour literally flew! I brought my camera the first night (go to our gallery to see the photos) and it was covered in white dust by the end of the class! Chef Ali took us through the steps one by one, demonstrating along the way with an angled mirror above her workspace that allowed all of us to see exactly what she was doing.

An angled mirror allowed everyone to see what the chef was demonstrating

An angled mirror allowed everyone to see what the chef was demonstrating

It’s the perfect way to learn! You get to see it in digestible chunks, then do it while the visual is still fresh in your memory. The chef is available to check it and make suggestions right away before you move to the next step. Having the right equipment is as important as proper technique. Once the dough has been mixed you need to pound the cold butter into a thin, 5-inch square with a French Roller*. You can just imagine what it looked like to see a room full of people hauling off and hitting big chunks of butter with wooden bats. It was quite a sight! Then the dough is wrapped around the butter into a packet, that is then folded, rolled out and folded again, four times in all, to get all those luscious layers of dough and butter.

The bright and airy cooking lab made for a relaxed atmosphere

The bright and airy cooking lab made for a relaxed atmosphere

The process involved letting the dough “rest” at various intervals in a “proof box”** and at the end of the first class our dough packets spent the night in the refrigerator before we continued the next day. But even the first night we got to learn and eat what you can do with left-over croissant dough. The cronut! Now there’s a sinful treat. By the end of the second class we each had a batch of beautiful golden croissants to take home with us along with a wonderful feeling of accomplishment, not to mention some new friends.

* A French Roller has no handles and is tapered at the ends.

** A “proof box” is a warm, humid place for your dough to rest. You can use your oven, set at 100° with a bowl of water at the bottom.

You don’t have to live here to enroll in classes at DOUGH. Check out their calendar and get a real taste of Asheville while you’re here visiting! And don’t forget to check out my finished croissants in our photo gallery. They were to die for, if I must say so myself! Yum.

 

Spring is Officially Here! April in Asheville.

April 7th, 2014 by abedofroses

Magnolia blossoms

Magnolia blossoms

The Cherry Blossoms and the Bradford Pear trees are in full bloom, but the real sign of Spring in this city tucked in the mountains is the first Drum Circle of the season!  This past weekend kicked off the Spring Season in Asheville with the first Drum Circle on Friday night in Pritchard Park and the season’s first Downtown Asheville Art Walk. Biltmore Blooms is already in full swing as well, as more and more of those flowering bulbs are filling the gardens of America’s Largest Home. This week also marked the opening of the North Asheville Tailgait Market at UNC, a long awaited harbinger of good eating ahead. Before you know it every weekend will be hosting a street festival with live music, art and great local food. After a cold cold winter across the country we’re all ready for that!

Pritchard Park Drum Circle

The Drum Circle in Pritchard Park

The Drum Circle is a must-see tradition in Asheville that will get you moving! Every Friday night dozens of drummers come together at little Pritchard Park in the heart of downtown and all kinds gather to dance, tap and enjoy the rhythm that you can literally feel from blocks away! Great people watching too!

Glass hands

Meditation in Pink by John Littleton & Kate Vogel at the Blue Spiral Gallery

Asheville is a mecca of artists and crafts people. Another Friday evening tradition takes place on the first Friday of every month from April until December. More than 20 downtown galleries, studios and museums host the Downtown Asheville Art Walk from 5-8PM. All are within a half mile radius so you can take a leisurely stroll and see why Asheville is called the “Paris of the South”. Many serve up light hors d’oeuvres with their art to wet your appetite for one of the myriad of independent local restaurants that will dot your path.

Asheville is also known for keeping it local. Our excellent independent restaurants stress fresh farm to table cuisine and with over 17 local tailgait markets we all can share that local flavor. Our favorite is the North Asheville Tailgait on the UNC campus. In a lovely shaded setting, the market is a social gathering place as well, with live local music, crafts and baked goods along with the farm fresh food. You’ll find local cheese makers, jams and sauces, even hot foods and native plants for sale.

farmers market

The North Asheville Tailgate Market

Spring in the mountains is truly a special time.

Romantic Springtime Getaway Package

April 1st, 2014 by abedofroses

Biltmore Booms!

Biltmore Booms!

The mountains are alive with spring flowers everywhere and the gardens here in the Montford Historic District are bursting with color. Come soak up the spirit of spring on our cozy front porch and stroll through the gardens at the Biltmore Estate. The Biltmore Blooms Festival runs from through May 23rd this year. Start off with a fresh bouquet of flowers, chocolate truffles and a sparkling beverage waiting for you in your room. Then enjoy dinner at your choice of outstanding independent local restaurants. Two tickets to the Biltmore Estate and Gardens as well as Antler Village and the Biltmore Winery are included and they are good for two consecutive days, so you will have lots of time to tour the mansion and enjoy the beautiful gardens. This package can be added to a two night stay at any of our rooms for $230.  Good through June 10th.

Book this package with your room reservation >>

A Bed of Roses Premier Blue Ridge Hiking Package

March 31st, 2014 by abedofroses

The Blue Ridge Parkway just North of Asheville

The Blue Ridge Parkway just North of Asheville

The Blue Ridge Parkway and Western North Carolina have abundant and incredibly scenic hiking trails complete with stunning waterfalls and mountain views and we can help you discover them!

Stay at A Bed of Roses B&B and get off to a great start to your adventures with a healthy and delicious 2-course gourmet breakfast.

We will provide you with your choice of definitive trail guides from Pisgah Map Company, now featuring elevation profiles. Choose either the South Pisgah Ranger District guide, including Bent Creek or the DuPont State Recreational Forest guide. These are gorgeously produced by a local company with local knowledge and include clearly labeled trail names, must-see waterfalls and descriptions of popular mountain bike rides.

DOUGH- chef owned bakery/market/eatery

DOUGH- chef owned bakery/market/eatery

For lunch on the trail we will provide a choice of boxed lunches from DOUGH, an innovative chef-owned market, bakery, eatery and cooking school located right here in North Asheville. Choices include wraps or hoagies, including vegetarian or gluten free options with fruit and one of 3 varieties of Route 66 chips.

Your goody bag also comes complete with a survival bracelet. This is not just an attractive piece of jewelry, it can be deployed to help you in case of emergencies.

Survival Bracelets- not just  jewelry!

Survival Bracelets- not just jewelry!

Each bracelet contains 10-12 feet of MIL-Spec 550 Paracord when unraveled. Paraviral produces these bracelets and gives directions and suggestions for using them for tent repair, fishing, construction of an emergency shelter or hauling up to 550 lbs.

After your day of hiking look forward to a relaxing warm soak in one of our jetted tubs. Wrap yourself in a luxurious robe and enjoy a cup of tea with our delicious home baked cookies.

This package is available with a stay in any of our unique guest rooms for $50.

Book this package with your room reservation >>

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