While the season in Asheville NC runs pretty much straight through from March until just after the New Year’s Holiday, there is usually a brief lull at the end of August and the beginning of September. It gives us a chance to catch our breath here at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast: to attend to any more involved repairs which require a room be vacant for a day or two and, in my case, to put my head around Autumn fruits and vegetables and to work on some new dishes. We have a pretty good repertoire of sweet and savory breakfast dishes already so it’s not so much a case of needing new ones as it is my desire to experiment a little and try something new.
Usually in mid-August, James and I take a break, leave the Inn in the very capable hands of our Assistant Innkeeper, Sara, and join our family on the North Carolina seaside. It’s a time to eat lots of wonderful seafood (none of which is breakfast oriented) and to experiment with some new recipes. This summer I decided to try working on Bacon- Maple-Chocolate chip cookies. James was skeptical but the rest of the family were hugely enthusiastic volunteers and even though the first batch was not exactly perfect the general consensus was that this was a path worth following. Back at our Asheville Bed and Breakfast, I made a some adjustments to the recipe and while it’s still not perfect our guests were intrigued. Of course it helps that this weekend’s guests were some dedicated foodies who came to Asheville in order to go to the WNC Food and Wine Festival.
Those of you who follow my blog are familiar with the WNC Chef’s Challenge and The Food and Wine Festival kicks off every year with the final round of the Challenge. This year the winner was Chef Ryba from the Inn on the Biltmore Estate. The runner-up (and loser by only 2% points) was Chef Roy of the Lexington Avenue Brewery. From starters of goat-cheese panna cotta to venison mole, it was a meal to be remembered! The second evening of the Festival is called “Sweet”. An awesome array of everything from cakes and pies to cookies and chocolate to much more is available for tasting along with some memorable dessert wines. At least so I am told–with 6 check-ins Friday night we were otherwise occupied but guest who did attend said it was a delightful, if calorie-laden, evening.
James and I were able to attend the Grand Tasting on Saturday afternoon, however. We had purchased “VIP” tickets which allowed us to enter an hour before the General Admission crowd. (In hindsight it wasn’t ever that busy so I don’t think it’s worth the extra money for the privilege of early entry.) As we entered the Civic Center (now known as U.S. Cellular Center) we were each given a wine glass, a large bag for shopping and a jar of mustard! There were multiple displays inside and even after we thought we had seen every booth a second swing around found new ones.
Favorite Bite: Storm Rhum Bar and Bistro. Grouper Cerviche redolent of lime, spice and coriander.
Most Useful Cooking Tip: Biltmore Cake Ball Bakery. Cake balls are small balls of cake the
size of chocolate truffles which have been dipped in chocolate. I once tried making something like this out of brownie mix but found that it didn’t hold together very well. The tip? Only use cake made from scratch and add some icing or marshmallow fluff to the crumbled cake before making it into a ball.
Most Intriguing Idea: The Blind Pig Supper Club. I can’t explain it. Follow the link and read about it!
Booth James was Most Interested In: GalloLea Organics. Those of you who know my husband well will not be surprised to learn that this particular company is a small business with a Home Pizza Making Kit!
After a couple of hours sipping on North Carolina Wines and tasting food from all around Asheville, I returned home inspired to continue working on my second big project: Eggs Benedict. While we were on holiday our daughter Emily showed us a great way to poach eggs in the microwave (put some water and a little vinegar in a ramekin, break an egg into it and microwave on high for 45 seconds to a minute depending on the power of your microwave). This solved the problem we had with trying to poach eggs for up to 14 people, all of whom would arrive at breakfast at a different time. Back at our Bed & Breakfast in Asheville, James and I spent an evening making Hollandaise using different methods and proportions while at the same time figuring out how to hold the sauce for up to an hour without its overcooking or breaking (a thermos does the trick nicely).
We have been eating Eggs Benedict in all its variations over the past week or so and almost have it perfected. However there is a way you can help. Join our Facebook page and take a really, really short survey about how you prefer your Eggs B. We are hoping to serve our first breakfast of the perfected recipe sometime in September!