February 19th, 2013 by abedofroses
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.
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.
January 1st, 2013 by abedofroses
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
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!
December 14th, 2012 by abedofroses
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)
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Spray an 9″x13″ glass baking dish with nonstick spray
- Spread cheese in bottom of dish
- Whisk the cream, mustard and white pepper until it just begins to thicken
- Separate the eggs into two mixing bowls.
- Whisk the Herbes de Provence into the egg yolks
- Beat the egg whites until quite frothy then fold into the yolk/herb mixture
- Pour half of the cream mixture over the cheese
- Pour the egg mixture over the cream layer
- Pour the remaining cream over the eggs
- Dot with butter
- Bake for 40 minutes
- Let settle for 5 minutes, cut into squares and serve.
November 5th, 2012 by abedofroses
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
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.
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
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!
October 17th, 2012 by abedofroses
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.
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.
September 5th, 2012 by abedofroses
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.
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 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.
August 30th, 2012 by abedofroses
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.
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.
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.
August 17th, 2012 by abedofroses
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.
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.
August 1st, 2012 by abedofroses
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 Torte
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.
- 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
- 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
- 29 oz can of sliced cling peaches in juice, well drained
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp sugar
- Beat margarine or butter with sugar and vanilla at medium speed until well blended
- Add flour and mix.
- Stir in pecans.
- Flour hands and press mixture into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a spring form pan.
- Beat cream cheese and 3/8 cup sugar at medium speed until smooth
- Beat in egg and vanilla until blended
- Pour into pan
- In large bowl combine cinnamon and sugar. Add peaches and toss lightly
- Arrange on top of cream cheese mixture
- Bake 10 min at 450°
- Reduce heat to 400° and continue baking 25 minutes more
- Cool in pan 20 min, then carefully remove sides
Serve warm or refrigerate