August 24th, 2011 by abedofroses
The weather has been gorgeous this week and we took advantage of the sunny skies and warm, dry temperatures to hike some of the woodland trails at the North Carolina Arboretum. It’s been just cool enough to make a hike perfectly pleasant.
Tree lined trails
The Arboretum is celebrating 25 years of serving as a resource for natural beauty and connection with the outdoors in western North Carolina. The dream of an arboretum here in Asheville started with Frederick Law Olmsted in the late 1800s. He had intended to establish an arboretum on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate, his last major landscaping project. For many years we were lucky enough to enjoy the Arnold Arboretum in Boston that Olmsted designed in 1872, so when the Arboretum was established here in the 1980s, inspired by Olmsted’s work, we made sure to make a visit there a part of every family visit we made to Asheville.
Flowers near the Exhibit Center
Usually those trips would involve exploring the beautiful gardens and exhibits. Now that we live here we’re getting to explore even more of the trails and gardens than ever! Walking along the well marked and intelligently designed trails it is easy to let go of the noise and stress of everyday life and just let the quiet and the beauty of nature envelope you.
Trickling Bent Brook
Bent Creek flows gently through the trees and the shaded paths take you through a mix of hardwood, pines, ferns and wildflowers. The trails go from pedestrian only paths to naturally surfaced roads that allow bicycle traffic.
The mission of The North Carolina Arboretum includes promoting the stewardship and enjoyment of the wealth of plant life within the Southern Appalachians through their world-renowned gardens as well as demonstrating cultivated and natural landscapes. It provides an easy mix of trails and gardens, well marked with educational information. Several gardens provide inspiration as well as enjoyment. We’re so lucky to have this resource available and a beautiful late August day to enjoy it!
A glimpse of the mountains through the trees
August 22nd, 2011 by abedofroses
Life as Innkeepers...Three couples share their stories and delicious gourmet recipes
In July one of our guests revealed herself to be the editor of OutreachNC magazine, Carrie Frye. One of her writers had come up with the idea of publishing an article about baby boomers who have decided to become innkeepers. Carrie asked if she could interview us for the article and we were thrilled. The article came out in their August issue. We were one of three inns featured. All three inns were from different parts of the state and represented different stages and styles of inn ownership. We were the rookies, having only owned A Bed of Roses for a year. One couple opened their inn 11 years ago and currently live off-site. The other couple became innkeepers 4 years ago. I’ve always said, no two B&Bs are alike. That’s one of the things that makes staying at an inn a thousand times more interesting than going to a chain hotel!
Carrie, the editor, was a delightful guest and was quite taken with our cats Nadia and Sasha. She sent us lots of photos that I promise to post! In the her editor’s notebook blog from August 4th, Carrie revealed that she successfully reproduced our Orange Stuffed French Toast recipe! The recipe appears in the article as well as on our blog’s recipe section.
Read the article here, OutreachNC Article. I hope you enjoy it!
August 12th, 2011 by abedofroses
Fresh tomatoes from the Farmers Market
My first version of this fresh vegetable stew came straight from Molly Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook. I was living in Ithaca, NY when the Moosewood Café opened in the DeWitt Mall, a converted old school building. The architectural firm my first husband worked for was on the 4th floor of the DeWitt and the Moosewood was one our favorite haunts. Much has changed since then, but not my love for this spicy tomato dish. I have adapted the recipe several times and put it to new uses. The movie “Ratatouille” has only served to endear it to me even more. Once you make the basic recipe you can use it in several ways. For dinner pair it with pasta or couscous and foccacia, or try Ratatouille crepes, sprinkled with grated cheese. For breakfast or brunch there’s nothing better than a “Rat” omelet or a Ratatouille Goat Cheese Tarte. Here’s where you start!
- 1 Tbs Olive Oil
- 1 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
- 2-3 leeks, thinly sliced, white ends only
- 3-4 scallions chopped
- 1 green bell pepper roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and put through a press or diced
- 1/4 cup chives, chopped
- 2 Tbs fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1/2 tsp dried hot pepper flakes
- dried oregano or Italian spice blend to taste
- 4 cups coarsely chopped tomatoes
- 1 Italian or Japanese eggplant, cubed (not peeled)
- 2 zucchini sliced and quartered
- 3 Tbs parsley, chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Freshly grated Parmesan Reggianno
- In a very large deep sauté pan or saucepan heat the olive oil and sauté the onions, leeks, green pepper, garlic, scallions, chives for 10 minutes, stirring often
- Add rosemary and red pepper flakes, cook for an additional minute.
- Add tomatoes, breaking them up as they cook and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add zucchini and eggplant and continue to cook for 10 minutes.
- Add parsley and freshly ground black pepper.
- Serve immediately topped with grated parmesan over couscous or pasta, or reserve some to use later in an omelet, crepes or tarte.
Ratatouille Goat Cheese Tarte
Ratatouille Goat Cheese Tarte
For 9” pie shell:
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 4 eggs
- 4 oz goat cheese
- Prepare your favorite pie crust recipe, roll out and line pie plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat oven to 400°
- Place pie crust in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- Prick holes in pastry, place foil shiny side down in shell and fill bottom with pie weights
- Bake 10 min
- Remove foil & weights and continue baking 5 min
- Cool on wire rack
- Reduce oven temp to 350°
- In bowl whisk eggs w/ a pinch of salt
- Whisk in cream until smooth
- Spread pie shell with ratatouille.
- Crumble goat cheese on top of rat
- Pour egg mixture in at the sides without covering rat completely
- Sprinkle with pepper and bake 30-40 minutes or until custard sets.
- Let sit 5 minutes. Cut and serve.
July 31st, 2011 by abedofroses
Fall Foliage on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Asheville is at the tail end of 3 days of the Bele Chere Summer Festival right now. Four sound stages are set up with live music, artists from all over the country are selling their crafts, street performers, food vendors, and cold beers, many locally crafted are everywhere. It been hot in Asheville and misting tents are set up downtown to keep the revelers cool. All of Asheville seems to be one big summer party.
But I’m remembering those cool nights of autumn in the mountains right now! Guests are calling with October reservations and asking for Fall Foliage predictions and it seems a million years away from this summer heat with all of its festivals, but it’s not! Before you know it the colors will start appearing, first at the mountaintops and then in glorious bands, working their way down the mountains. All the different elevations in the area mean one of the longest-running fall foliage seasons in the country. The days are still warm in the fall and the sun illuminates the brilliant colors. The Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville is full of great places to view the show, take a hike, stop for a picnic and take in the breathtaking views of the mountains. The Parkway may even add a rest stop soon with views of the Asheville skyline. We’ll keep you posted! Navitat has zipline tours through the forest canope that are even more beautiful and peaceful in the fall. Soaring through the treetops, you will suddenly come upon a stunning mountain vista on your way to the next landing flatform in the trees. A guided canoe trip down the French Broad River offers a unique view of the colors. You may even want to enjoy the panorama of the blazing mountains from a balloon ride across the Hominy Valley! And of course, The Biltmore Estate and Gardens are a thing to behold in the Fall with the Biltmore Forest in full autumn glory rising behind the mansion and the gardens specially planted for the season.
Whether you’re exploring in Dupont State Forest, climbing Chimney Rock or visiting Pisgah National Forest, during the day, Asheville is the perfect place to come home to. At the end of the day you’ll find plenty to do in downtown Asheville. The nights cool off just enough to enjoy a sweater while you eat outside at one of Asheville’s many sidewalk cafés. Asheville has a myriad of great independent restaurants, most emphasizing locally grown foods. There’s sure to be live music in town and artists displaying their work outside the Grove Arcade or at the Art in the Park Series at Pack Square. If you’re in the mood for theater, October offers everything from Romeo and Juliet with the Montford Park Players, to Angels in America with the North Carolina Stage Company.
The color show is predicted to start this October 4 through the 14th at the highest elevations above 5,000 feet just north of Asheville. Look for color on Mount Mitchell, Craggy Gardens or Grandfather Mountain. October 12th through the 21st look to the mountains southwest of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway including Mount Pisgah and Devil’s Courthouse. October 18th through the 26th the mountains surrounding Asheville along the Blue Ridge Parkway should be at peak color, between 3,000 and 4,000 feet. October 26th through November 5th the show shines brightest right in Asheville itself at 2,000 feet. This is the time to visit the NC Arboretum or Dupont State Forest. The Biltmore Estate will be at peak color then as well. October 27th to November 6th look to Lake Lure and the Chimney Rock area.
July 24th, 2011 by abedofroses
Today is the last day of the Craft Fair of the Southern Higlands at the Asheville Civic Center. We look forward to this biannual event to see the best of the region’s traditional and contemporary crafts and artwork. Acceptance into the Southern Highland Craft Guild is based on a rigorous jury process so it is always a treat to see the work put out by these talented and diverse artists. This fair has been a local tradition since 1948. Artists give demonstrations throughout the fair as well. If you missed it you will get another chance to see the guild’s talent in October from the 20th to the 23rd.
39th Annual Village Art and Craft Fair
If you can’t wait that long to see great crafts and artists display their wares, though, you’re in luck! The 39th annual Village Art & Craft Fair is coming up August 6th and 7th. This outdoor arts and crafts fair is held outside on the lovely grounds of the Cathedral of All Souls in Biltmore Village. This is a free event and a great opportunity to stroll the historic brick streets of Biltmore Village as well. There will be 120 exhibitors this year and you’re sure to find something beautiful or quirky that you can’t live without. T shirts featuring this years poster art by Daryl Flaton are available now and I might not be able to live without one of them!
July 21st, 2011 by abedofroses
A Polenta Egg Nest with Mango Blueberry Fruit Salad
We tried a new recipe the other day and it was a big success! It involves making the polenta at least one day ahead, but it was worth it. The little secret is the hidden applewood- smoked bacon lining the nests. It gives a smokey flavor to the whole dish.
• 2 Tbs butter
• 1/4 cup minced scallions
• 3 cups water
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 cup of course yellow cornmeal
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano
• 1 Tbs fresh thyme, minced
• 20 slices of bacon, preferably applewood-smoked
• 6 oz grated mexican cheese blend, divided
• 6 oz grated gouda, divided
• 8 large eggs
• 1/4 cup sliced scallions
• 1 tsp fresh thyme
One or two days before serving make the Polenta
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add scallions and sauté just until limp.
- Add the water and salt and bring to a boil.
- Gradually whisk in the corn meal and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer until thick and creamy, 10-14 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Stir in Parmesan and 1 Tbs fresh thyme. Season with salt & fresh ground pepper.
- Cool to room temperature then cover and refrigerate at least overnight or for up to 2 days.
To make the baked eggs
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Heat one or two large skillets over medium heat and add bacon. Fry until just brown but still pliable- not crisp!
- Drain on paper towels and cool enough to handle.
- Line the sides of eight Ramekins with two slices of bacon each forming a collar. Put 1/2 slice of bacon in the bottom of each Ramekin.
- Put about 1/3 cup of polenta into each Ramekin, pressing into the bottom and up the sides to form a nest.
- Mix the grated cheeses in a bowl and sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheese in each Ramekin.
- Crack one egg into the center of each “nest”.
- Sprinkle with remaining cheese, scallions, thyme and black pepper.
- Place Ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and bake about 23 minutes or just until the egg whites are almost set.
- Let eggs stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving. They will continue to cook.
July 11th, 2011 by abedofroses
Should I be afraid to touch?
This is the latest in our series, First Time at a Bed and Breakfast?
Many if not most B&Bs are in antique homes. Old houses have a charm that you just can’t get anywhere else. Old homes may not always be as soundproof as we might like, however. That doesn’t mean you have to tiptoe around or whisper in your room! Enjoy your visit! Just be considerate of the guests in adjoining rooms. Be aware of how high your TV volume is and realize that yelling or other loud noises probably will be heard by others. Many inns, like ours, have “white noise” radios to help you sleep over the creaks and sounds of old houses and your neighbors. Just don’t expect the sounds of the “rainforest” to drown out your full blast late night sports extravaganza on ESPN.
These old houses are usually your innkeeper’s home as well, filled with their antiques and linens and collectables. Accidents happen and things break and spills occur. It’s okay. Innkeepers expect this, so please don’t try to hide it. As you would, if visiting friends, let your host know as soon as possible of a mishap so they can try to get that stain out while they still have a chance or fix that broken chair before the next guest sits in it!
Try not to spill red wine on the antique lace!
If something malfunctions or you don’t know how to use it, just ask. It’s okay, really! That being said, all innkeepers hope that you will use common sense in trying to prevent damage to their home or furnishings. Cleaning your car window with the monogrammed bath towels or leaving your dripping red wine bottle on the embroidered dresser scarf might not be appreciated. Your innkeeper will be more than happy to provide you with a rag or a coaster. Just ask.
Courtesy and clear communication are really synonymous, especially at an inn. It is our responsibility to communicate clearly about what we expect of and offer our guests. We expect that our guests will be clear in asking for what they need to make their visits enjoyable. Neither of us are mind-readers! We ask that if something isn’t right you let us know so that we can have an opportunity to make it right. That may not always be possible, but we will do our best. If you haven’t given the innkeeper an opportunity to address your concerns it is truly the worst etiquette to later write a poor review of the property. If an innkeeper does not treat your complaints with courtesy and concern, a poor review is warranted! And don’t forget to write good reviews when you’ve had a great experience at a B&B. A good review is the best thank you note.
July 8th, 2011 by abedofroses
Our Orange Stuffed French Toast with Vanilla Scented Fruit Salad and Bacon
The editor of OutreachNC magazine recently stayed with us and requested our version of this popular recipe. We hope you enjoy it as much as she did!
- 1-2 long loaves of French Bread, sliced at a diagonal
- Orange marmalade (our favorite is Mackays, imported from Scotland and made with champagne)
- 1/2 to 1 Package of Cream Cheese, softened
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- Orange zest to taste
- Melted butter for brushing
- Confectioners sugar for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Spray two 11”x17” metal baking pans with cooking spray.
- Using 2 adjacent pieces of the bread per person, lay each pair open like a book
- Spread 1 piece with softened cream cheese
- Spread the opposite piece with orange marmalade (This part reminds me of making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as a kid!)
- Press the two pieces together firmly but gently enough that the filling doesn’t ooze out
- Repeat for 8 “sandwiches”
- Whisk together the eggs, milk and orange zest.
- Dip each “sandwich” in the egg mixture, turning to coat
- Place in prepared pan so they don’t touch one another
- Brush with melted butter
- Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.
- Dust with confectioners sugar and serve with real maple syrup.
July 6th, 2011 by abedofroses
Table setting at A Bed of Roses
This is the latest in our series, First Time at a Bed and Breakfast?
Breakfast etiquette is also different at a B&B. Unlike a hotel restaurant, the small staff at a B&B dictates specific times for service and limitations on how many different dishes are available. Many B&Bs have one or two set seatings and all the guests are served the same meal. Sometimes there are multiple courses and preparation takes a great deal of time. Preparation may even begin the night before. Please let your host know in advance if you will not be there for breakfast! There are few things worse than preparing a gourmet meal that you have to throw in the garbage! If breakfast is served at a set time, please be there on time. It is inconsiderate to make the other guests wait for your arrival while the food gets cold. Most innkeepers will serve at the appointed time whether you are there or not. They have no way of knowing when or if you will arrive, so they may or may not try to keep your breakfast warm for you.
It is also very important to notify your innkeeper as soon as you are able if you require a special diet. Most B&Bs are glad to accommodate dietary restrictions, but this takes planning. The best time to let them know of dietary requirements is when you make your reservation. We also ask guests when they check in if they just don’t care for some foods. We want to give you a meal that you will rave about, but we can’t read minds. If you don’t care for waffles or onions, we want to know about it!
Breakfast at a B&B also calls for being considerate of the other guests. One of the treats of staying at a bed and breakfast is meeting and eating breakfast with all sorts of other people. It’s not like an anonymous hotel or restaurant. It’s best to use common sense when engaging in breakfast conversation with other guests. Like a family gathering, no one wants strife while enjoying a meal together. Almost always, breakfast is an enjoyable social event and many times it’s hard for us to get our guests to leave the table and let us clean up!
Look for our next installment on the dos and don’ts of staying at a B&B: Whispering and tiptoeing around the “museum”!
June 27th, 2011 by abedofroses
Should I tip the maid?
This is the latest in our series, First Time at a Bed and Breakfast?
Tipping is a touchy subject for some people. The unwritten rules about who to tip and how much seem incomprehensible at times. Sometimes it seems like every time you turn around someone wants a tip! Who gets a tip at a B&B is pretty clear though. Innkeepers and their family NO, housekeepers unrelated to the innkeeper YES, if deserved! Here is why:
Innkeepers are the owners of the business and the proceeds of the business are their reward. Tipping your innkeepers is not expected and in many inns it is prohibited. Your best reward for a good experience in a B&B is a good online review and recommendations to your friends.
Tipping the housekeeper is another matter altogether! Find out if your innkeeper hires help to clean. If so, the same tipping guidelines apply to staying at an inn as they do in a hotel. Housekeepers work behind the scenes, before you arrive and after you leave as well as tidying up your room during your stay. They do backbreaking work and are at the low end of the pay scale. Like waiters and waitresses, tips are an important part of their income and can make a big difference in their lives.
How to leave a tip and how much should you leave:
Many inns that hire housekeepers allow them to put out envelopes in the rooms for tips. If you want to tip a housekeeper, never just leave cash or change out on a dresser for him or her without labeling it clearly as a tip for their service. A maid has to be very careful about taking money out of a room, even and empty one. If an envelope hasn’t been provided, ask your innkeeper for one or use a folded sheet of plain paper clearly labeled.
How much do you tip? That’s the hard part. In practice it varies widely and is at your discretion. Most hotel guidelines indicate that maid’s tips should be about $3-5 per night for a luxury hotel and $1-2 per night for an average hotel. Most B&Bs these days fit into the “luxury” category. If you were not happy with the cleanliness of your room, by all means, you are not expected to tip for bad service! On the other hand, if she went above and beyond, getting extra amenities or towels for you or going out of her way to make you comfortable feel free to leave a little more. Some guidelines say tip daily, since the same housekeeper may not clean your room every day. At our inn, the housekeeper puts the envelope out on the last day of your visit.
Look for our next installment on the dos and don’ts of staying at a B&B: Breakfast etiquette.