Monday, November 19, 2012

Asheville: Day 3

On the third day of our trip, we started our morning with a beautiful and equally as tasty pumpkin spiced muffin sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with brown sugar butter. (Amazing.)

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You'll have to use your imagination and picture the second course...a colorful mixed berry parfait...because I devoured it before I realized I hadn't yet taken a photo.

The third course was 2 poached eggs with fried cappicola, hollandaise sauce, and spinach pesto.

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After breakfast, we put on our coats (it was chilly outside!) and took a look at the front porch, which starts at the entrance to the house / front door...

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...and wraps all the way around the whole side of the house with gorgeous views of Asheville and the hills beyond.

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Here's a lovely view of the front of the house in the morning. The porch actually wraps around the right side of the house toward the dining room too. And the inn keepers told us that in the warmer months, they actually serve breakfast and the afternoon hors d'oeuvres and wine out there.

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That solid wood front door with the detailed carvings, original hardware and huge, beautiful glass would have come home with me if I could have made that happen.

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Our first stop that day was back at the Biltmore Estate. We had two-day tickets and we had saved the conservatory and gardens for our second day. We parked down by the gardens and went through the large conservatory first. The original potting rooms are still there and still functional. The rest of the building is filled - every nook and cranny - with beautiful plants, flowers, and trees.

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I know there's no reference point, so you'll just have to take my word for it...these are darling, miniature orchids.

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Some of the plants were made into living "sculptures."

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And because we were there during the holidays, there were poinsettias and more poinsettias.

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This is the palm room and the largest room in the conservatory with the highest ceiling. The trees are species from all around the world.

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This is the side of the conservatory that faces and is visible from the house.

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Because we were there at the very end of fall, the gardens were not in their full glory, but it's very easy to imagine the beds full of beautiful blooms.

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We walked from the conservatory back up to the house itself. This is the view to the rear of the house. When I look at that view, I get a sense of why George Vanderbilt picked Asheville as the setting for this retreat home.

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And here she is again from the side as we came up from the gardens. This angle belies the size and grandeur of the house. It almost looks understated from this side view. Almost.

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The back of the house has no entry or formal foot-path. It just opens up to nature.

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When we rounded the house to the front, we saw a fire truck parked out front. Talk about juxtaposition. It seems so weird to see modern vehicles right in front of such a historic house. We do not know why the fire truck was there (but it wasn't a fire) and hope that everyone was ok. 

What is not as visible in this photo is the long trail of tour buses and shuttles snaking all the way from the house to the parking lot. We had been contemplating going back inside the house for a final walk-through. But, after seeing the swarms of people, (it was a Friday) we decided against it. And we were patting ourselves on the back for thoroughly seeing the house the day before when there were no real crowds at all. But we did go back to the gift stores briefly to pick up a couple of things.

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On the way back to the car, we stopped to admire the fiery red color of the leaves.

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We drove through the Biltmore grounds again and stopped at the Antler Village to look around a bit. Then, we exited the estate grounds and went to the Biltmore Village. Since it was lunch time, our first stop there was the Corner Kitchen....a restaurant in a house that was original to the Biltmore Village where workers and employees of the estate lived.

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In addition to the historic surroundings, the food was delicious. We both had the crab corn chowder to start.

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Then we shared the salmon cake entree. They split the dish back in the kitchen so we each got this beautiful plate. The salmon cake was crusted with panko and seasoned with lemon and dill and served with cucumber noodles, spinach greens, and horseradish sauce. The flavors were so perfectly balanced in this dish and one cake was such a perfect portion after the soup.

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After lunch, we went in several shops in the village including a tea gift store, an old-fashioned Christmas store and others. The Biltmore Village has several original homes and in the photo below you can see the quaint brick walkways.

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Near the end of our shopping, we heard church bells and were reminded that one of our tour guides suggested we visit the church in the village, which is the Cathedral of All Souls. It was commissioned by George Vanderbilt too and constructed in the same time frame as the estate. The architect of the estate (and Central Park in NYC), Richard Morris Hunt, also designed the church and parish hall. The Vanderbilt's daughter, Cornelia, was married in the church in 1924.

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When we walked inside the church we just expected to look around for a minute (it's not a large church), but a docent greeted us and asked if she could give us some history and information about the church, which was very interesting. All of the furnishings and details in the church are original. The floors were lain in the same herringbone pattern as the Biltmore Estate. And the seat cushions are the original horse hair cushions, which have been recovered in green velvet. (Unfortunately, no interior photos of the church). The blown glass windows and other details inside the church were intricate and beautiful. I'm so glad we stopped in for a few minutes.

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After leaving the church we decided to visit a large antique depot near downtown Asheville and only about 5 minutes from the Biltmore Village...the Antique Tobacco Barn.

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It was an enormous "barn" with rows and rows of amazing finds. The furniture pieces here were the best treasures. If there was any way I could have economically shipped some of them back home I'm pretty sure I would have done it. The prices were phenomenal and the pieces were in excellent condition. It took forever to work our way through here, but we had so much fun looking at everything.

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See the card catalog drawers on the right in the photo below? There were several sets like that among the different vendors...I love card catalog drawers. But again...too big for the suitcase.

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After we took our time browsing the barn, we went back to the inn for the afternoon wine and hors d'oeuvres. And for some unknown reason, I did not take photos of any of that. We sat on the front porch because the weather was so beautiful in the late afternoon. The hors d'oeuvres were great too...I remember one being a crostini with some form of tomato, basil and cheese combination, which is always a favorite of mine.

We freshened up a bit and then headed back downtown for dinner. We ate at The Market Place. It is a "farm-to-table" restaurant that sources all of their ingredients from within a 100 mile radius of Asheville. This was one of my favorite places we ate. The food was amazing.

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First, we had a special offered that evening...a mushroom gratin. This dish was unbelievable. I could have eaten it straight-up with a fork and just skipped the bread altogether. Wait...I did do that. Several local mushrooms sauteed with cream and herbs, then baked in that cute little dish with a bread crumb topping.

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Then, for our main course, we shared the trout dish. We noticed that trout showed up on every menu in every restaurant, so we figured it must be a local fish. As you can see below, we each had a fillet. The fish was served with beluga lentils, smoked bacon, and confit tomato vinaigrette.

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We ordered a couple of sides along with our entree...simply because we wanted to try them. The dish below is two crispy corn cakes with spinach salad. (Very good.)

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And we couldn't help ordering Brussels sprouts again....these were served with maple laquered bacon, spiced pecans, and acorn squash puree. Wow.

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On our way out of the restaurant, I stopped to snap a photo of the restaurant's kitchen. These big windows right into the heart of the restaurant face the street and are right next to the entrance. Kind of like a fish bowl for the chefs!

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We were tired again after our busy, but relaxing day...I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but it felt like we strolled, and shopped, and ate all day...basically doing whatever we wanted...and we were exhausted!

1 comment:

Emily said...

All so gorgeous!!! You are the third person in about 2 months thats gone to Ashville! I had never heard of it before and I know it's all I hear about! I am definitely making it a point to go, and soon! It looks so beautiful! And I loved that porch!!!