It’s hard to believe that James and I are into our fifth year of ownership at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast. It seems at this time of year that everyone and everything is given a “year in review” so it seemed appropriate to jump on the bandwagon and go over some of the highlights of 2013 for us, our Asheville Bed & Breakfast and our guests.
So I sat down yesterday and combed my facebook page, my phone camera and blog as well as my memory to try and come up with a list of big events for 2013. Turns out there was a lot! I know the usual procedure is to list things month by month but I’m not doing that. Instead I have tried to arrange things in three categories: improvements at the inn, food and restaurants and events. Or, more easily, things we ate, things we did and things we made better!
Things we made better (we hope).
One of the first improvements at the inn was the addition of name tags on our room doors. For too long, we have known who was in which room but sometimes our guests weren’t so sure, especially when confronted by three closed doors at the end of the hall after having only been in the room once and at that time the door was open. Many thanks to Lori Theriault and Karen Dubois of The Village Potters for the design and execution of the plaques.
Another wonderful addition was the Tree of Life which now hangs on the wall next to the stone terrace beside the goldfish pond. For this, and for our lovely hummingbird Christmas ornament, we thank our friend and artist Meredith Gywnn
We also got a new driveway, repaired our antique clocks and repainted a number of bathrooms along with replacing cushions, linens and recovering furniture as needed.
Two new offerings for our guests were our Biltmore Christmas Package and the possibility of using the Carolina Bed & Breakfast for small weddings or elopements.
The Christmas package took guests to the Biltmore to see the amazing decorations and thousands of lights then brought them back to our inn–another house built by the same architect–to enjoy our decorations and seasonal foods. Finally they took home with them a special Christmas Ornament as a memory of what we hope was a special visit. It was a huge success, we booked more than 25 packages, and we will almost certainly offer it again next year.
We held three weddings in the past year. Each was unique, joyous and loving. We wish all the best to our newlyweds. This year we will be offering a gift to those who get engaged while staying at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast through StudioWedBox. But more about that later, this is about last year!
Things we ate
James and I tried out eight new restaurants in town and returned to many others in our continuing quest to make sure we have up-to-date information to give to you about dining options in Asheville. It’s a tough job, I know! Some of our new favorites for this year: Wicked Weed, Pizza Pura, Ambrozia and Edison. And back on our list is The Admiral. Slated for a revisit in 2014 is Curate. We also finally managed to get all our menus arranged into two large books to make it easier for you to choose from.
Closer to home, I developed some new recipes. One of my favorites is a Pumpkin Bread Pudding served on a spiced pear and apple compote and topped with a fried sage leaf. Another hearty winter savory bread pudding is our recipe for Bread Pudding with Brie,
Caramelized Onions and Tomato. We also developed a recipe for a Pumpkin Blondie Bar that is to die for! The discovery of cheesecake tin for making individual cheesecakes has had our imaginations churning and we especially liked topping some of our favorite offerings with Vanilla-Boubon Caramel Sauce from Looking Glass Creamery. We found this cheese maker because the Carolina Bed & Breakfast was one of the first Associate Members of the WNC Cheese Trail. I got into candied jalapenos in a big way and a small bite consisting of fresh local watermelon, candied jalapeno and home-brined feta cheese was a big hit at our evening social hour.
Food Bloggers Laura Huff (Carolina Epicurean) and Nicole Livengood (Gap Creek Gourmet) came to visit and took away with them my recipe for Shrimp “Cerviche”. Nicole expects to serve it at her New Years Party so be sure and check her blog! And our mince pies were featured on ExploreAsheville, the Asheville Tourism Board Website.
Speaking of food blogs, I was honored to be a guest blogger for WNC Magazine’s Chef’s Challenge. I loved going behind the scenes, meeting the chefs and watching them work with the secret ingredient as well as enjoying the resulting dishes. The Chef’s Challenge typically takes place in February through April and I will be sure to post the dates in case you want to have a unique dining experience this winter.
And for the first time, the Carolina Bed & Breakfast ran a recipe contest, Oh, My CSA! using the contents of our CSA box from Full Sun Farm as the ingredients. While we didn’t get a huge number of entries, those we did get were excellent and it was a fun way to get to know some new ingredients. Delicata Squash is now on my radar. How can you not love a butternut type squash that needs no peeling! The winning recipe for a cold summer corn and shrimp soup is one my family has already requested for again next summer.
Things we did.
In spite of getting lost on the mountainside in January and a broken ankle for me in July, James and I still managed to take advantage of a lot that Asheville offers. We went
mushroom hunting with Alan Muskat, and saw a taping of NPR’s “Wait, Wait! Don’t tell me!” at the Civic Center as well as The Moscow Ballet’s Nutcracker. We travelled to Tyron, NC for the Blue Ridge Barbecue Festival and ate an Autumn Market Feast in a field at a pop-up dinner.
James and I were also fortunate enough to see a number of productions by the Montford Park Players. Although I was sad to miss what was said to be an awesome production of Othello at the Masonic Lodge. We join the players and their supporters for a Masked Ball in early November and had a great time dancing with our favorite actors. We toured the North Carolina Arboretum while enjoying an exhibit of Lego art. And who could miss the Gingerbread House competition at the Grove Park Inn December? Our daughter Abby and her boyfriend sampled some of the Beer Tours in town and even wrote a guest blog for us. We toured markets, and continued to explore the art in our town and surrounding locations.
These are just some of the highlights–a quick glance of the year in review Carolina Bed & Breakfast style. I can’t wait to see what happens in 2014. Until then, have a wonderful New Year’s!