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Posts Tagged ‘Innkeeper Activities’

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

April 15th, 2014 by abedofroses

Croissants ready to rest in the "Proof Box"

Croissants ready to rest in the “Proof Box”

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

Chef Ali Caulfield demonstrates for the class

Chef Ali Caulfield demonstrates for the class

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

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

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

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

The bright and airy cooking lab made for a relaxed atmosphere

The bright and airy cooking lab made for a relaxed atmosphere

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

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

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

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

 

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.

 

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