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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.

Ready or Not Here Comes Santa! Christmas in Asheville

November 21st, 2012 by abedofroses

Santa and his wife

Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive at the Asheville Holiday Parade

The Biltmore Estate Candlelight tours have begun, Asheville held its Holiday Parade this past Saturday and the Grove Park Inn’s Gingerbread Competition winners have just gone on display. In spite of my stubborn reluctance to even think about Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving, I can’t help but start to give in to the excitement surrounding the holidays. The Christmas season is here, like or not, and I absolutely love this time of year. There’s something magical about the decorations and the music, the parties and even the shopping. Downtown Asheville has a holiday shop window competition that brings out everyone’s creativity and helps get you into the spirit.

Snowman at the Spa

Mr Snowman at the Spa

Sensibilities Spa won the competition with their clever snow-people enjoying the spa treatment, complete with a snow ancestor portrait above the fireplace! The holiday parade was quite an extravaganza with innumerable floats, performers, marching bands playing holiday music and our own Olympic silver medalists, Lauren Tamayo and Manteo Mitchell serving as Grand Marshals of the parade. Santa was the last to arrive with his entourage of festooned live llamas, bobbing Christmas-tree characters, and dancing reindeer people. Families camped out along the parade route and excited children darted into the street to catch a glimpse of what was coming.

Kids at the Asheville Holiday Parade

The cutest float at the Holiday Parade

It was great family fun. The Gingerbread Competition winners are always amazing to see and it gives you an excuse to enjoy the outstanding Arts & Crafts Architecture and original mission furniture of the Grove Park Inn. These are not run-of-the mill gingerbread houses. They are amazing edible sculptures and the bakers come from as far away as Massachusetts to compete. There are no less than 6 productions of The Nutcracker or variations thereof in Asheville this year. They range from the Asheville Puppetry Alliance’s “In the Nutcracker Mood”, featuring holiday music, to a modern interpretation with all dance and no singing or speaking at the Flatrock Playhouse and Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre‘s “The Return of the Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” a surreal, imaginative telling of “The Nutcracker”. And of course, the Asheville Ballet will perform the full original ballet from Imperial Russia.

Biltmore at Christmas

The Biltmore Library at Christmas

There will be choral performances and parties as well, but nothing can compete with the Grand Biltmore Estate in full Christmas regalia. By candlelight, with harpists playing and choirs singing in the Conservatory, the myriad of trees sparkle even brighter. My own 9 foot Christmas tree has arrived from Balsam Hill trees and it’s all I can do to keep from setting it up now. Right after Thanksgiving it’s going up! Happy Holidays!

Autumn Colors in Asheville – Saying Goodbye to October in the Mountains of Western North Carolina

November 5th, 2012 by abedofroses

Autumn Leaves on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Late Autumn Leaves on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The colors have become more muted around Asheville, with tones or rust and gold, but the mountains never cease to be breathtaking. As innkeepers, we are often too busy in October to get out to see the peak fall colors, but we managed to get away last week to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Mount Pisgah to see the last colors before the leaves fall and we begin to busy ourselves with Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations. We began the drive with the Folk Art Center. We can never resist a stroll through the galleries of traditional and modern local crafts and fine art. From there we headed south, where the colors brightened.

The French Broad River in late Fall

The French Broad River

Late autumn has it’s own charms. The woods are less impenetrable with fewer leaves allowing you to see deep into them and appreciate the topography of the land. As we climbed we first were treated to views of the French Broad River and then overlook after overlook of mountain views and rich color. A partly cloudy day is often a more interesting time to visit the mountains than a sunny one. The skies and the hillsides become more dramatic.

Late Fall Foliage in the Mountains

Climbing toward Mt. Pisgah

As we got to the top of Mount Pisgah we found ourselves in the clouds winding through the tunnels as the fog rolled around us. At that elevation with the cold snap we were having last week I was a little nervous about snow, but we were lucky and the sun shone as we descended the other side. We circled around through the Pisgah National Forest past the Cradle of Forestry and stopped at Looking Glass Falls before heading home. It was a lovely afternoon.

Looking Glass Falls

Looking Glass Falls

So now the pumpkin has been carved, the trick-or treaters (169 of them!) have come and gone and Thanksgiving is almost here.

The temperature has warmed up again in the afternoons dipping down to the high 30s at night and the leaves are holding their own. It’s not quite time to say goodbye to them yet! By then Christmas will almost be here. The Biltmore Estate has already put up the 35 foot Christmas Tree and their Candlelight Evening tours start in just a few days!

 

A Community of Innkeepers: The Asheville B&B Association Pulls Together for the Busy Leaf Season

October 17th, 2012 by abedofroses

Autumn leaves in Asheville

Autumn view on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville

October is a glorious time to visit Asheville and the Mountains of Western North Carolina. For inns and B&Bs it is our busiest time of year. When disaster, major or minor, strikes an inn in October it is a big deal. There are no “days off” this time of year to deal with untoward events. So when my husband ended up in the MICU at the VA hospital this past week, my panic was not just about my husband’s health. (Spoiler alert- he is now fine and quickly getting back to his cantankerous but lovable self!) How was I going to take care of a full house of guests by myself with no end in sight and take care of my husband’s health crisis as well? It seemed unfathomable. This is where I discovered what a wonderful community of innkeepers we have here in Asheville. We are so proud and grateful to belong to the Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association.

ABBA logo

ABBA Logo

We have always appreciated the marketing benefits of a strong Association as well as the camaraderie and moral support that ABBA has given us since we bought our B&B. But when we put the word out that Bill was sick we really found out how our community had our backs. During a time when they were all their busiest, we had offers of help that ranged from cooking breakfast for 10 for us to checking in guests while I was in the hospital and baking cookies for us, so our guests wouldn’t have to sacrifice their home baked afternoon goodies! Besides my personal gratitude to our wonderful colleagues, it makes me feel really good to know that when you stay at any one of our ABBA inns, you will be taken care of no matter what happens. If one of us is down the rest will pitch in to be sure your experience is not compromised. There’s a promise not many businesses can make! So we’re back on our feet here at A Bed of Roses and I got a great new recipe for biscotti from the Carolina Inn. Thank you ABBA! And thank you so much to our housekeepers, Angie and Faith for pitching in and going that extra mile to support us when we needed it. It’s a great community.

Eating Indulgence at Cúrate in Asheville

September 5th, 2012 by abedofroses

Curate Salad

A Watermelon Heirloom Tomato Salad

The other day, purely by coincidence, Bill and I and two separate couples staying at our inn enjoyed tapas at Cúrate on Biltmore Avenue in downtown Asheville. Well, it may have been less coincidence and more good taste and adventurous palates that led us all there. The carefully and artistically prepared authentic Spanish tapas have given Cúrate a reputation that goes way beyond Asheville. GQ magazine has even praised their “ace” patatas bravas, a traditional potato dish served in tapas bars in Spain. I love to cook so when I go out to eat I want something that is way too much trouble to cook for myself. That’s why I’ve always loved the appetizers best when going to fine restaurants. Those small morsels of delectable food are so labor intensive, but so good. Those jewels of flavor are what tapas are all about. It makes eating at Curate a pure indulgence.

Flambe at Curate

The view at the bar is part of the experience

We love to sit at the bar and watch the magic. The teamwork is impressive and professional. You can order your heart’s desire, watch them carefully and skillfully put it together, present it to you beautifully, then do it all again!  The staff there is incredibly knowledgeable as well. I know nothing about Spanish wines, but each waiter and waitress can describe in great detail the subtle nuances of each of their wines, and it’s an extensive list. When I asked why they were cutting slits in the bottoms of plastic cups I got a fascinating explanation of how they make individual servings of their pound cake by injecting gas into the batter in the cups rather than using yeast, necessitating the slits for the steam to escape. I had heard that the Executive Chef/Co-owner, Katie Button, had interned at the renowned elBulli in Spain. Arguably the most famous restaurant on the planet, elBulli is associated with molecular gastronomy. While the cuisine at Curate is strictly traditional Spanish, you can see the influences from her impressive background.

Curate Restaurant in Asheville

Curate in a restored 1927 bus depot

The restaurant is a family affair, with her husband Felix Meana, formerly the “Chef de Rang” of elBulli, is the Director of Front of House Operations, her mother Elizabeth Button, a successful caterer with impressive credentials of her own, is the General Manager and co-owner, and her father Ted Button is the Financial Manager and co-owner.

In Spanish Cúrate means “cure yourself”. Whatever ails you, food like this certainly will make you feel good.

LAAFF: The Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival is Back This Weekend Sept 1st and 2nd!

August 30th, 2012 by abedofroses

Girl with face painted

Face Painting and Hoola Hoops

If any event personifies the Spirit of Asheville in all of its quirkiness it’s the LAAFFfestival. This weekend Lexington Avenue will be full of interactive art, costumed characters galore, great music and food, as well as vendors showing off their incredibly creative wares and services. There will be 8 soundstages each with its own unique vibe and events like the bike circus and the Hoola Hoop Jam. There’s even a Pre-LAAFF-A-Thon Pub Crawl on Saturday.

Costumed woman

The vendors are colorful.

Look for Faeries on stilts, puppetry and kids making Tutus. This event features all local talent and art and there are sure to be plenty of surprises.

Street performer

All sorts of creatives come out for LAAFF

This is the 11th year that Arts 2 People, a non-profit group, has been promoting local creative entrepreneurship through this annual end of summer festival. Their “manifesto” is to support and protect alternative culture and foster arts and culture as a “viable economic industry”. Asheville is known for it’s art scene and attracts a huge number of talented artists of all types so this festival showcases some highly creative people. Bill and I wouldn’t miss it. We had a great time last year as you can see from our pictures. You can see more photos of last year’s LAAFF in our photo gallery.

This year the Mountain Xpress is providing live LAAF coverage on your smartphone! Just go to Mountain Xpress’ AvlLive.com. You can Tweet your own updates using #avllive and #laaf. See the great music that will be onstage during the festival and when and where they’re playing.

Innkeepers Choice: A Day at Shoji Retreat

August 17th, 2012 by abedofroses

Hot tub

Outdoor hot tubs is a peaceful wooded setting

I’m a firm believer in treating yourself well and Shoji Retreat is definitely the place to do it! Just 8 minutes from downtown Asheville, it’s a world away. They advertise that they’re “2,500 ft above stress level” and it couldn’t be more true. It’s a quick drive from Asheville to the entrance of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Just past the Parkway you take a right and wind your way up the wooded road where it gets more and more remote as you climb. The setting is quiet and incredibly peaceful. You can feel yourself relaxing instantly. On our visit Rachel at the front desk was friendly and explained how the spa works, giving us our Japanese Yukatas(robes) and sandals and directing us to the slate showers to begin our day of indulgence. The Summer Celebration Package started with an hour of relaxing in our private hot tub, enclosed with cedar walls on three sides and one side open to the wooded views of the bordering national forest. Above is the open sky and treetops. The only sounds were birdsong and gentle breezes. We alternated between the hot tub and the cold plunge in a separate enclosure. Then after a final invigorating cold plunge it was off to the cedar sauna to wait for our massage therapists to call for us. After a brief introduction and questions about any problems we might be having they brought us to an upstairs room, dimly lit with relaxing music and two massage tables.

Massage setting

Aromatherapy candles

The massage was a wonderful 50 minute Japanese style aromatherapy massage expertly focused on trouble spots and places that tension was stored in the body. As part of the special package we had a choice of a 30 minute cool stone facial massage or a 30 minute foot reflexology massage with a peppermint foot scrub. Two innkeepers on their feet for long hours every day quickly went for the foot massage! After it was all done and the massage therapists left all I could say to my husband was “I think that is the most self-indulgent thing I’ve ever done! We should definitely do this again!” We showered again and checked out in a totally blissed-out state. I couldn’t help sympathizing with Rachel at the front desk having to help people find their keys, tie their shoelaces and get their heads together enough to drive home!

Visit Shoji’s website to see a full menu of their spa services. For a limited time guests staying 2 nights at A Bed of Roses can get $25 each off  of services at Shoji. Ask for your coupon at check-in.

 

Recipes from the Kitchen of A Bed of Roses: Preview from the New NCBBI Cookbook

August 1st, 2012 by abedofroses

Peach Topped Bavarian Torte

Arrange the peaches decoratively on top of the cheescake.

Two new cookbooks are coming out and a bunch of our recipes are appearing in both! The newest edition of the Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association Cookbook has gone to the printer and the North Carolina Bed & Breakfast and Inns Cookbook should be out the first week in September. Here is a sneak preview from the NCBBI Cookbook. Check our recipe section soon for a preview of the newest ABBA cookbook!

Peach Topped Bavarian TorteNorth Carolina Bed & Breakfasts & Inns

My sister Marianne gave me this recipe in 1972. I had to increase her original recipe to fit current spring form pan sizes.  It’s a crowd pleaser. For the B&B I cut it into squares to serve in the afternoons.

Ingredients

Crust

  • 3/4 cup softened margarine or butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/8 tsp vanilla extract (we used Madagascar)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans

Cheesecake

  • 12 oz (1 1/2 8oz packages) softened cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 eggs (not easy to do! I beat the second egg and poured in half)
  • 3/8 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Topping

  • 29 oz can of sliced cling peaches in juice, well drained
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sugar

Preparation

  1. Beat margarine or butter with sugar and vanilla at medium speed until well blended
  2. Add flour and mix.
  3. Stir in pecans.
  4. Flour hands and press mixture into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a spring form pan.
  5. Beat cream cheese and 3/8 cup sugar at medium speed until smooth
  6. Beat in egg and vanilla until blended
  7. Pour into pan
  8. In large bowl combine cinnamon and sugar. Add peaches and toss lightly
  9. Arrange on top of cream cheese mixture
  10. Bake 10 min at 450°
  11. Reduce heat to 400° and continue baking 25 minutes more
  12. Cool in pan 20 min, then carefully remove sides

Serve warm or refrigerate

 

 

How to Beat the Heat – A Scenic Picnic on Mount Mitchell

July 28th, 2012 by abedofroses

Riding along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway

The highest mountain peak this side of the Mississippi is a quick drive from Asheville. On a fun day-trip the other day the temperature dropped from an unusually steamy 88° in Asheville to a pleasant 66° on the mountaintop. The scenic “slow” route up the Blue Ridge Parkway takes about an hour with spectacular views, woods and scenic overlooks along the way.

Craggy Gardensare definitely worth a stop with scenic trails, picnic areas and a Visitor’s Center. In June and July the rhododendrons are blooming and form a blazing tunnel of flowers along the Craggy Pinnacle trail. The gnarly trees are sweet birch I think- striking in the wintertime.

View from Craggy Gardens Visitor Center

The view from Craggy Gardens Visitor Center

Mount Mitchellis not that far beyond Craggy Gardens. A left on NC Highway 128 from the Parkway takes you right to the summit. Well not exactly. From the parking lot there is a steep little hike along a paved trail to the observation deck, so you can truly say you “climbed Mount Mitchell”! The views from the observation deck are well worth the little climb. At 6,684 feet above sea level you’re likely to see clouds below you and weather forming miles away. The climate at the peak is more like Canada than North Carolina and the vegetation and even the birds are different than just 35 miles away in Asheville.

Climbing to the summit of Mount Mitchell

Climbing the path to the summit of Mount Mitchell

A shaded picnic area at the lower summit parking area was a lovely place to have lunch. There were shelters there as well as picnic tables and grills.

Originally it was thought that Grandfather Mountainwas the highest peak in the area, but in 1835 Dr. Elisha Mitchell, a professor at University of North Carolina calculated the elevation using barometric pressure readings and mathematical formulas to prove that the Black Mountains, the range that Mount Mitchell is a part of, were higher.

Coud moving in over the mountain

A cloud creeps in over the mountain

Of course there was controversy and on a subsequent visit to verify his measurements in 1857 Dr. Mitchell fell from a cliff above a 40 ft waterfall and drowned in the water below. The peak was named in honor of his work in 1858 and he was reburied on top of Mount Mitchell a year after his death.

Until this time the Black Mountain Range was referred to as a single mountain since it’s ridgeline has such an even elevation. Although the elevation of the range is higher, its length is just 15 miles, much smaller than the Blue Ridge Mountains or the Great Smokies. As early as 1787 botanists prized the area for it’s diverse specimens of trees, shrubs and plants. They would bring samples back to Europe to cultivate on royal plantations.

View from Mount Mitchell

View from the summit of Mount Mitchell

The Fraser Fir is named after one such explorer, Englishman John Fraser. The Fraser fir is the most abundant tree along the mountain crest and unfortunately, it has been hit hard by the Wooly Adelgids. An unwelcome visitor that made the trip to the US from Europe around 1900, this tiny insect has destroyed forests throughout the east as well as the northwest. Mount Mitchell was the first place in the southern Appalachians to be invaded by the pest beginning back in 1957, probably because of the high elevation.

Luckily for us the views are still pristine in spite of the Adelgids and the woods are filled with a great variety of trees and shrubs as well as wildflowers. We returned to Asheville refreshed, full from our picnic and a whole lot cooler.

See our Photo Gallery for more pictures!

Where to See the Best in Mountain Arts and Crafts – Asheville’s Premier Crafts Show

July 19th, 2012 by abedofroses

Jen Swearington Fiber Art

A Detail from Jen Swearington’s “The Sea Dream”

The Crafts Fair of the Southern Highlands Craft Guild is a wonderful showcase for the best artists in the Appalachians. This weekend will draw over 200 artists and craftspeople to the US Celluar Center right here in Asheville to display their art, give demonstrations and listen to and play live music from Western North Carolina. Twice a year the Southern Highlands Craft Guild sponsors this show and it’s a must see event for anyone who loves traditional and contemporary crafts. Long before we moved to the Asheville area I would schedule my trips here to visit family around these fantastic shows. The Southern Highland Craft Guild has a long and distinguished history and the fairs have been a local tradition since 1948. Acceptance into the Guild is based on a rigorous jury process, so these artists are definitely the cream of the crop.

Wendy Searward Mask

Wendy Seaward’s “Delirium”

You will see an incredible mix of traditional works with contemporary interpretations of life and nature in the southern mountains. Crafts like hand hammered ironwork and intricate baskets are displayed side by side with whimsical brightly colored polymer clay creations or quilted and stitched mixed media illustrations that tell stories of the imagination. The guild was chartered in 1930, springing from the dream of Frances Goodrich, a Yale graduate and missionary who moved to Buncombe County in 1890. She joined with other leaders of the Southern Arts and Crafts movement in the 1920s and the birth of the guild can be traced to a meeting of these leaders at the Penland School in 1928. It is now one of the strongest craft organizations in the country, operating the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway, just a few miles from Asheville, and conducting educational outreach as well as hosting two major shows a year. They still have close ties to the Penland School of Crafts and the John C Campbell Folk School. If you can’t go to the show, be sure to visit their gallery and shop at the Folk Art Center on your next visit to Asheville!

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