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The Summer Music Scene in Asheville: So Much to Hear and See!

June 28th, 2013 by abedofroses

Lorraine Conard Band at Bele Chere

Lorraine Conard Band at Bele Chere

Musicians gravitate to Asheville from all over to take advantage of one of the most eclectic music scenes in the country. From Blue Grass to Celtic, Blues, Reggae and classical, you’ll see it all on the streets, at the music festivals, in the clubs and in the concert halls of Asheville. With some of the best music venues, Asheville draws some big names that you might not expect for a city our size performing concerts in surprisingly intimate settings. Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, Damien Rich, Flaming Lips, Blondie and Bonnie Raitt have all played here. Bob Dylan and David Byrne with St. Vincent were here just recently. Some of our guests even got to go back stage and talk to David Byrne and St. Vincent and get some very unique autographs.

David Byrne and St Vincent

David Byrne and St Vincent

The Orange Peel Social Aid & Pleasure Club has a rich history of bringing headliners to the region and is nationally recognized. The US Cellular Center (previously the Civic Center) also attracts nationally known acts. But smaller venues abound as well with jams at local pubs like Jack of the Wood. Music and local ale from Asheville’s abundant craft brewers. What could be better?

The area’s traditional music springs from the Scottish, English and Irish early settlers of the western NC mountains. Our traditional Appalachian Music roots can still be seen here with a summer concert tradition, Shindig on the Green. At sundown every Saturday from July to September you’ll see free traditional blue grass music and dancing in Pack Square Park. It’s been called “the back porch on stage”. One very unique and unforgettable Asheville music tradition is The Drum Circle.

Asheville's Drum Circle

Asheville’s Drum Circle

The percussion of African American slaves’ songs had a great influence on Appalachian Folk music so it shouldn’t be surprising to see little Pritchard Park in the heart of downtown Asheville pulsing with a couple hundred drummers and dancers every Friday night, but it is! And it’s just a lot of fun. On Thurday nights in the same park a very different kind of free concert takes place. Homegrown in Pritchard features local singer-songwriters from June through August and there is lots of great homegrown talent here! Another ongoing free outdoor concert series in the summer is Downtown After 5. Taking place the 3rd Friday of the month from May through September on Lexington Avenue this is it’s 25th Anniversary Season.

Music Festivals are also a great place to enjoy live music in Asheville. The largest, Bele Chere takes place at the end of July. The 86th Annual Mountain Dance and Folk Festival will be at the Diana Wortham Theatre at Pack Place on August 1st-3rd. The famed Biltmore Estate hosts a summer concert season with big names like Cheryl Crow, Casting Crowns, and The Beach Boys. And the Brevard Summer Music Festival is not far from Asheville. Joshua Bell will be performing June 29th with Keith Lockhart conducting. There is just unending variety to the music choices here. Enjoy the season with us!

 

Following Aiden through Peru: An Innkeeper Travels Vicariously

June 8th, 2013 by abedofroses

The Ballestas Islands in Peru

The Ballestas Islands in Peru

What does Peru have to do with an innkeeper in Asheville? Very little, but I know our guests love to travel and so do I, Running a busy B&B gives us very little time off this time of year, since it’s such a popular time to see the mountains of North Carolina! Following my sister’s travels through the mountains of Peru is a great way to get to experience an amazing place in real time and share the neat things my sister is discovering with my fellow travelers.

Aiden left Asheville last Sunday. Her first trip was to see the Ballestas Islands, with Penguins, seals and thousands of migrating and nesting birds. The area was at the epicenter of an earthquake in 2007 and tourism to the islands is helping the economy recover.

El Candelabro

El Candelabro

One tourist attraction there is El Candelabaro, a strange lamp dug into the sand. The exact age of this geoglyph is unknown and there are various theories about why it was created. Archeologists found pottery belonging to the Paracas people from around 200 B.C. near the site. It may be a representation of the lightning rod of the god Viracocha, a mythological figure known throughout South America, or a sign to sailors. At 595 feet long, it would be visible from sea for miles.

The next thing on her itinerary was to fly over the mysterious Nazca Lines, the most famous geoglyphs, dating from between 800 B.C. and 800 A.D. This amazing site is on a dry plateau in southern Peru and stretches over 50 miles. The pictographs range from simple geometric designs to complex figures of animals and birds.

A figure from the Nasca Lines

A figure from the Nasca Lines

Archeologists, historians and mathematicians have studied these lines since they were discovered in 1927 but why they were created is still a mystery. They were probably scraped from the copper colored rocks between 200 BC and 700 AD by the Nazca Indians for religious purposes. A popular book published in 1968, “Chariots of the Gods” by Erich Von Daniken proposed that they were created by aliens to use as landing strips!

Next Aiden travels to Arequipa and then the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

The Montford Music & Arts Festival is Here Again! May 18th.

May 17th, 2013 by abedofroses

An Eclectic Selection of Vendors at the Festival

An Eclectic Selection of Vendors at the Festival

For the 10th year in a row our Historic Montford District is hosting the best and largest one-day festival just a block from A Bed of Roses. Asheville is home to many great arts and music festivals but this is our favorite. The local art and crafts displayed by over 100 vendors is eclectic and of the highest quality. The music is fantastic and runs continuously on two stages, one on Montford Avenue and one on Soco Street from 10:15 in the morning to 6:15 in the evening. Several bands will be returning this year including WestSound which has been a great hit for the past four years, Ira Bernstein, a world-class percussive step dancer who is one of the founders of the festival and Free Flow Band playing “Old skool R&B and Funk”. There will be everything from “Global Americana” music from The Billy Sea to Paul’s Creek acoustic string band and the garage pop duo, The Mad Tea. The artwork displayed is always a wonderful mix of fine arts, jewelry, wearable art, sculpture, wood crafts, glass and pottery. There will even be body art this year.

Tribal beads of africa  from Gem on a Wire

Tribal beads of africa from Gem on a Wire

And of course there will be food. Nine Mile, a favorite neighborhood restaurant with Jamaican food is in the heart of the festival but there will also be a wide range of food trucks, from El Kimchi to Gypsy Queen Cuisine as well as MacDaddy’s Lemonade and lots of icecream and gelato. It’s looking to be a great day in the neighborhood!

A Bed of Roses is a proud sponsor of the Montford Music & Arts Festival again this year. See picutres of last years festival in our photo gallery!

First Time at A B&B? How to Get the Most Out of Your B&B Experience.

April 29th, 2013 by abedofroses

Oregano in bunny pot

You’ve decided that maybe a B&B really is a “better way to stay” than an anonymous hotel with cookie cutter rooms. Now how do you make sure that you’re really getting all the benefits of a bed and breakfast when you’ve never been to one before? Here are some tips on how to maximize your stay and make it really memorable.

First of all, at a bed and breakfast be sure to stay for breakfast! This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s natural to want to pack the most into your vacation or weekend stay in a new place. You want to see it all and do it all! But breakfast at a bed and breakfast is the main event. It’s integral to the whole experience of an inn versus a hotel. Of course there’s the food. One of the reasons people become innkeepers is because they love to cook and they love to present their guests with a beautiful plate that will make their inn stand out in the crowd. Most likely it is home cooked from scratch, many times from fresh local ingredients or even from the innkeeper’s own garden. It’s not at all unusual for an innkeeper to have culinary training in gourmet cooking or catering. You won’t be getting short order eggs and bacon! It’s going to be special.

Dining room table

Dining Room Table Set for Breakfast

Beyond just the delicious food is the experience of sharing your breakfast with the other guests. Depending upon how the individual inn handles breakfast, you will meet all or many of the other guests staying at the inn at the breakfast table. I’ve always felt that this is where the magic happens! People from all different regions of the country or the world, with totally different backgrounds, ages and in different stages of their lives come together over a good meal. Connections are made, discoveries are shared and conversation flourishes. It’s definitely worth scheduling that tour a little later in the day. Most B&Bs will post the time(s) they serve breakfast on the website. If not be sure to ask!

Another thing that helps to make your breakfast a wonderful experience is to share any dietary restrictions or things you don’t eat for breakfast with your innkeeper well in advance of your arrival. That way you’re sure to get a breakfast that will be enjoyable for you. There’s no need to feel uncomfortable about not eating when everyone around you is enjoying the meal. Innkeepers want to prepare a meal you’ll relish, so don’t be afraid to ask them to leave out the onions or bacon on yours. Some restrictions, like not being able to eat dairy or eggs take time to prepare for or may involve buying special ingredients so be sure to let your hosts know well in advance. If they aren’t able to accommodate you they will let you know, but most innkeepers are adept at special meals.

The LAAFF Festival on Lexington Avenue

Shopping in Asheville

Pick your innkeeper’s brain about things to do, places to eat and must see attractions in their area. The Internet is great about advertising these things, but the locals know what’s really good or what’s all hype. They can help you find what you will like, not just what’s popular. An innkeeper is also used to being a concierge. They can get you a reservation, schedule a tour, and sometimes get you a little extra special care at places they know well. Plus they know the shortcuts that your GPS won’t tell you!

Be sure to make use of the common areas. There usually are menus available for area restaurants and brochures on things to do and see. It’s also a great opportunity to socialize with other guests and find out what they’ve enjoyed doing in the area.

Pick your room carefully. This isn’t going to be like a hotel, where the rooms are basically the same with different prices for different size beds. Each room in a B&B is unique, just like those in any home. Each has its own décor, some frilly and filled with antiques and others more masculine or modern. Some are large suites and some are cozy nooks. You may have a shower but no bath or a jetted tub with no shower. Pick what you like and what is important to you. Don’t judge a room just by its price. A less expensive room may not be a value if it doesn’t have the amenities you want. Photos will make the room look as good as possible so don’t be afraid to ask how large the room is, how many windows it has or where in the house it’s located. Having expectations that are based on as much information as possible will help you avoid disappointment. Staying at a B&B should be a delight!

For more tips on your first stay at a B&B see our whole series:

  1. First Time at a Bed & Breakfast?
  2. First Time at a Bed and Breakfast? What Can I Expect at Breakfast-time?
  3. First Time at a Bed and Breakfast? What are the amenities like at a B&B?
  4. First Time at A B&B – Bed and Breakfast Etiquette: Reservations and Cancellations
  5. First Time at A B&B – Bed and Breakfast Etiquette: Should I leave a tip at a B&B?
  6. First Time at A B&B – Bed and Breakfast Etiquette: Breakfast Etiquette.
  7. First Time at A B&B – Bed and Breakfast Etiquette: Whispering and Tiptoeing around the Museum!
  8. First Time at a B&B Series: Giving up Control

Recipes from the Kitchen of A Bed of Roses: A Springtime Asparagus Goat Cheese Tart

April 22nd, 2013 by abedofroses

Asparagus Goat Cheese Tart

A light springtime tart

It’s finally Springtime! One of the harbingers of Spring that I really look forward to is tender fresh asparagus that hasn’t been shipped all the way from Peru! One of my favorite ways of enjoying asparagus is in a light tart with local goat cheese paired with a minted fruit salad of fresh strawberries, pineapple and sliced kiwis.

 

Ingredients:

  • One 1/2-pound frozen puff pastry sheet, thawed
  • 1/2 bunch scallions (white and pale green parts only), sliced thin (around 1/3 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices, reserving tips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3-ounce log soft mild goat cheese
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried, crumbled

Directions:

  1. On a lightly floured board, roll out pastry into a 14-inch square and fit into an 9-inch tart pan with a removable fluted rim.
  2. Roll a rolling pin over top of tart to trim pastry flush with top of rim. Chill pastry shell while making filling.
  3. Preheat oven to 425°F. with a baking sheet on lowest rack.
  4. In a small skillet, cook scallions in butter with salt to taste over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Cool.
  5. In a steamer set over boiling water, arrange asparagus slices and top with reserved tips. Steam asparagus, covered, until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes, and drain well, reserving tips separately.
  6. In a blender, blend eggs, goat cheese, milk, and salt with pepper to taste. Add tarragon and pulse custard to combine.
  7. Spread scallions and asparagus slices in pastry shell and arrange reserved tips decoratively on top. Pour custard slowly over vegetables
  8. Bake tart in pan on heated baking sheet in the oven 15 minutes
  9. Reduce temperature to 375°F. and bake tart until set, about 8 minutes. Transfer tart in pan to a rack.
  10.  Remove rim of pan carefully and serve tart warm or at room temperature.

Asheville Beer Week is May 25th -June 1st. Come Join the Fun!

April 15th, 2013 by abedofroses

Beer week logo

Official logo of the 2013 Asheville Beer Week

If you haven’t heard, Asheville is Beer City USA again this year and it is a true destination for lovers of craft brewing. Our local paper even has it’s own “beer guy” column. And now for the second year in a row the Asheville Brewers Alliance is hosting a week of tastings, dinners, seminars and beer related fun, ending in the Beer City Festival on June 1st on Roger McGuire Green. Live music and dozens of craft breweries will be at the Festival. The week kicks off with a party, of course, on May 24th in the new Mill Room, Asheville Brewing Company’s new special events space, with live music, catered beer and wine as well as the cornhole tournament signup. Yes there will be a cornhole tournament! I have to admit I had never heard of cornhole, but the American Cornhole Organization posts official tournament rules if you would like to learn more. Sounds like fun. There will be a Homebrew Festival featuring 50 home brewers on May 25th. LaZoom will have a special Beer Run on May 26th.

Beer tourbus

The LaZoom Beer Tour

LaZoom is a hilarious tour bus comedy group that takes people on their big purple bus around Asheville. The Feral Chihuahuas comedy group’s special take on Asheville history will focus on our beer history on this tour and include at least one brewery stop. There will be lots of special tastings at the Thirsty Monk, and Bruisin’ Ales and a Sierra Nevada Southern Hospitality Beer Dinner at the Sunny Point Café. On May 31st there will be a Rare & Wild Beer Tasting that will be a benefit for Pints for Prostates. The culmination of the week, the Beer City Festival, is a team effort between the Asheville Brewer’s Alliance and the folks who put on the Brewgrass Festival here every September. Asheville hosts at least 4 Beer Festivals during the year, starting in January with the Winter Warmer Beer Fest and ending with the Asheville Oktoberfest. There are also brewery tours all year round and I’ve counted at least 20 craft breweries in the area. Our beer culture has attracted some big names like New Belgium and Sierra Nevada to locate here. A visit to just about any restaurant in town will present you with a huge variety of local beers on tap so you don’t have to wait for a beer festival to be part of the fun!

The Grove Park Inn Arts & Crafts Conference Includes 3 Shows that are Open to the Public

February 21st, 2013 by abedofroses

Arts & Crafts Lighting

Arts & Crafts Lamp at the Antiques Show

The world acclaimed 26th National Grove Park Inn Arts & Crafts Conference is this weekend, February 22nd, 23rd & 24th and will attract Arts & Crafts antique dealers, collectors and tradesmen from all over the world to it’s extensive program of seminars, workshops and shows. Even the New Times hails it as the “most important weekend of the year for arts & crafts collectors”. But even if you aren’t a serious collector or dealer and don’t really want to pay $150 for a seminar package you can gain admission to the three selling shows for just $10 at the door. They include the Arts & Crafts Antiques Show, the Contemporary Craftsfirms Show, and the Books, Magazines & More Show. 125 exhibitors will be selling arts & crafts period furniture, pottery, and textiles as well as jewelry, metalwork and lamps. You also get to see the historic and architecturally significant Grove Park Inn. The striking intimacy between the building and its natural environment is a hallmark of the movement and the panoramic views of our mountains are worth the trip alone. People often wonder why the owner of a bed and breakfast would send her guests to see a hotel! The Grove Park Inn is more that just a hotel, though. It’s an important historical site.

Vintage photo of Entrance to the Grove Park Inn

The Historic Grove Park Inn

Edwin Grove built the magnificent lodge in 1912 using his son-in-law, an amateur designer, as the architect and contractor. The inn is built in terrace-like sections along the mountain ridge from boulders quarried right on the property, Sunset Mountain. Distinguished guests over the years have included Eleanor Roosevelt, Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, F. Scott Fitzgerald, President Woodrow Wilson as well as President Barack Obama. The public is always free to explore the extensive grounds or watch the sunset with views of the mountains while enjoying a drink on the Sunset Terrace. Just off the beaten track you can even find an antique auto museum or a sculpture garden. The Grovewood Gallery and the associated Grovewood Studios were established on the grounds of the Grove Park Inn in 1992 and support local craftspeople with resident artists and studio tours by appointment. During the Arts & Crafts Conference there will be Open Studio Tours from 11am to 4pm on Friday and Saturday.

Arts & Crafts Vases

Period Vases

The Asheville Small Plate Crawl

February 19th, 2013 by abedofroses

AIR small plate crawl

Asheville’s Small Plate Crawl

On the heels of the successful first Asheville Restaurant Week Feb 1-7 Asheville’s Independent Restaurants are gearing up for the Small Plate Crawl, a delicious and fun 3 day event on February 26th, 27th and 28th. Asheville has been dubbed “Foodtopia” with good reason. The farm to table movement has taken hold in a big way here and there are over 40 restaurants in the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association alone, every one of them well worth sampling. What better way than 3 days of restaurant hopping where you will sample small plates priced from $3 to $8 each? When you get your AIRpass punched for each plate you are eligible for raffle prizes besides! There will be drawings for prizes in 5 different levels, from a $20 restaurant gift card if you get 5-9 total small plates to Biltmore Estate Year Passes for 26-29 small plates. Other raffle prizes include Wildwater zipline passes and Asheville Food & Wine Festival tickets. If ANYONE in a group purchases a plate, EVERYONE in the group gets their AIRpass validated.

Somosa Cholle

Chai-Pani’s Somosas

According to their press release over 30 restaurants will be participating in this year’s Crawl and I definitely saw some of my favorites in there. This event is aimed at the locals but visitors can get in on the fun, even if they only participate for one day. We could only participate for one day last year and while we didn’t rack up enough plates to qualify for one of the raffles, we had more than enough excellent food at affordable prices at some world class restaurants. Check out the Asheville restaurant scene and get a feel for what all the good press we’ve been getting is all about.

Tree Falls on Owner’s Quarters: This Innkeeper is Counting Her Blessings This New Year’s Day

January 1st, 2013 by abedofroses

Tree Damage_0003

A large tree fell on our owner’s quarters

The deafeningly loud crash and flash of light that woke us from our sleep in the middle of Christmas night was definitely not Santa and his sleigh landing on the roof! High winds and rain conspired with insects that had done their damage hidden from view to crack a giant pine tree in our neighbor’s yard and hurl it across the alley onto the roof over our bed. Miraculously the power lines behind our owner’s quarters broke the fall so that only a large branch punctured our roof rather than the entire tree trunk. Stunned and groggy from an abbreviated night’s sleep we ventured out into the rain to find out what happened and take stock of the damage. It was almost 5AM by that time and we had a house full of guests to serve breakfast to. So with half the power out we lit candles, figured out what was working and what wasn’t and came up with a plan for breakfast for 8 over the stove that didn’t require the ovens. This was a first- cooking by the light of a flashlight! We managed to pull it off before the power company shut us down completely to remove the tree. Electricians, appliance repair people, insurance adjusters and roofers are still being dealt with, but we’re back in full operation and incredibly grateful to be alive. After a season of things breaking, a sick kitty that has required a months worth of treatment on the heels of Bill’s October hospitalization it would be easy to get overwhelmed and feel like life is just responding to one crisis after another. I must admit I indulged in a bit of self-pity. But this New Year’s Eve we chose to take stock of all of the challenges we did meet and all the things we accomplished this year. We truly have had a great year.

Antique sconces now light up our goodies

Antique sconces now light up our goodies

Besides meeting the challenges of breakfast under duress the other day and operating the inn with one innkeeper down in October, we’ve met all of our little challenges with success as well. A broken CD player that I put totally out of its misery when it tried to steal my favorite Christmas CDs, pushed us to finally go digital with our sound system for the inn. I had always wanted to find the time to research systems and hook the sound up to our computer, but now I was forced to do it! I couldn’t be happier with our new Sonos system, operating by WiFi to wireless speakers. Business has been up since last year too. December was our busiest yet with lots and lots of people taking advantage of our Biltmore Candlelight Evening Package. This past year I was elected to the Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association Executive Committee  (ABBA) as Secretary, a post I’ve been enjoying and have just been re-elected to. After numerous production delays, we finally succeeded in replacing all of our robes at the inn with new, plush hunter green ones. Table and bed linens have been upgraded and we’ve added a “new” antique carpet and comfy chair to the parlor as well as a reproduction Victorian lamp to the foyer. We upgraded the Turret Suite, changing the carpet and adding a Tiffany lamp and 2 antique chairs. We painted and got new wicker furniture for our cozy front porch as well (see our improvements!) We started the year off by lighting up the kitchen! We added several recessed lights to brighten up our work-space and installed the antique sconces that we brought with us from Boston over the antique buffet where we serve afternoon tea and goodies. And we ended the year with a beautiful and incredibly life-like new 9 foot Christmas Tree from Balsam Hill to match the outstanding garlands we got from them last year. We definitely dressed up the inn for the holidays! As we go into the New Year we hired painters come in this week and re-paint all the guest rooms. We just chose new plush carpeting that will then be installed in the Oliver Davis and Carolyn Gray rooms. And then we will take a well-deserved vacation in St. Martin! We look forward to returning rested and so gratefully alive to a freshly painted and improved inn to start the season again. Happy New Year!

Recipes from the Kitchen of A Bed of Roses. How to make an old recipe Holiday Worthy: Putting the Soufflé into Herbes de Provence Soufflé.

December 14th, 2012 by abedofroses

Savory Breakfast Souffle

Separating the eggs helps the souffle brown up nicely

A recipe that I inherited from the last innkeeper tasted great and worked well for a house full of guests, but something about it always bothered me. It was called a “soufflé”, but I had my doubts. The recipe called for layering cheese, then a cream mixture, a layer of herbed eggs topped with more of the cream mixture. In my mind the result, while tasty, wasn’t light and airy enough to be called a soufflé. I looked up the definition and then went to work. While the result may still not be a classic French soufflé, separating the eggs and beating the egg whites adds the airy feel I was looking for and the presentation is much prettier as well. With some sour cream praline biscuits and roasted chived potatoes this makes a really special holiday brunch. Serves 8.

Herbes de Provence Soufflé

  • 4 cups shredded cheese- choose your favorite, mild cheese or a combination of Monterey jack and cheddar.
  • 14 eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 2 Tbs Herbes de Provénce Blend ( I prefer one heavy on the lavendar)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Spray an 9″x13″ glass baking dish with nonstick spray
  3. Spread cheese in bottom of dish
  4. Whisk the cream, mustard and white pepper until it just begins to thicken
  5. Separate the eggs into two mixing bowls.
  6. Whisk the Herbes de Provence into the egg yolks
  7. Beat the egg whites until quite frothy then fold into the yolk/herb mixture
  8. Pour half of the cream mixture over the cheese
  9. Pour the egg mixture over the cream layer
  10. Pour the remaining cream over the eggs
  11. Dot with butter
  12. Bake for 40 minutes
  13. Let settle for 5 minutes, cut into squares and serve.
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