A Foodie Adventure in Asheville, North Carolina

The Biltmore Castle Asheville, NC

The Biltmore Castle
Asheville, NC

There are so many exciting places to visit in the United States. For us having the focus of doing a culinary adventure sounded very appealing. My husband had heard of Asheville, NC as being a big foodie community. Asheville is also home to the Biltmore Estate a gorgeous castle built by George Vanderbilt III, fashioned after some of the French Loire Valley castles. Asheville is located in the western part of North Carolina near the Blue Ridge Mountains. We decided to drive to Asheville, NC from our home in West Chester, PA. The drive was approximately 9 ½ hours long and we split it into 2 days. The drive took us from Pennsylvania through some very scenic areas of the states of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee. We had a wonderful opportunity to enjoy Southern hospitality.

Southern Food at the Southern Kitchen in New Market, VA

Enjoying Southern food at the Southern Kitchen in New Market, VA

Our first stop included stopping for dinner in New Market, VA in a 57-year old restaurant called Southern Kitchen. We thoroughly enjoyed a dinner of peanut soup, southern fried chicken, and not-to-be missed peanut butter cream pie.  After enjoying a wonderful dinner we continued on to Christianburg, VA to spend the night. The next morning we were only 3 ½ hours away from Asheville. Asheville, NC has a regional airport and can also be reached by airplane. Asheville is approximately a 4-hour drive from Raleigh, the capital of NC located closer to the center of the state. North Carolina also boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. With so much to do and see, the state of North Carolina can be a wonderful destination visit. Keep in mind that North Carolina is home to some excellent universities like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, North Carolina State University, Wake Forest University, and Elon University. So if college visits bring you here, make sure to extend your visit and see more of the state.

Inn on Biltmore Estate

Inn on Biltmore Estate

We arrived in Asheville on a Monday and went straight to our hotel to check-in at The Inn on Biltmore Estate located on the grounds of the Biltmore Castle. We knew our hotel room would not be ready until later so we dropped off our bags and drove into the town of Asheville.

Asheville has become a mecca for foodies, where restaurant chefs have the focus of farm to table. The other great attribute of this city is that it offers a very international selection of cuisine. The city has also become an artist community boasting many galleries and exhibits. We enjoyed our first meal in Asheville at a Latin American restaurant called Chorizo, where we savored a mouth-watering arepa stuffed with shredded pork. We then met up with our foodie walking tour, Eating Asheville. Our wonderful tour guide, Cecily, took us to 6 different venues while also sharing with us some of the city history. Our stops included: The Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar, Chai Pani (Indian street food), Zambras (tapas with a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern twist), Table (farm-to-table seasonal), The Gourmet Chip Company (gourmet potato chips), and The French Broad Chocolate Lounge (a to die for chocolatier). At every stop we enjoyed delectable samplings of the food and drink. What a wonderful way to get introduced to the local food scene. I highly recommend that you sign up for foodie tours in the various cities you visit. It’s great entertainment. Cecily also recommended that instead of having a meal at just one restaurant, to try restaurant hopping while sampling their appetizers and drinks. We tried this strategy very successfully on one of our nights in Asheville. This allowed us to sample a variety of restaurants in a short time frame.

Eating Asheville Food Tour with Cecily giving us information about the tour.

Eating Asheville Food Tour with Cecily giving us information about the tour.
At The Battery Park Book Exchange Champagne Bar

Our stay at the Biltmore Inn was wonderful. The hotel sits on top of a hill with beautiful sweeping views of the 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate. The Biltmore Castle & Estate was built by George Vanderbilt III. It was Vanderbilt’s dream to make the estate self-sustaining. When it was first built in 1895 the estate operated a diary farm. Today, the estate operates a very successful winery. Although, some of the grapes are grown on the property, many are purchased from other regions of the United States. The Winery is one of the most visited wineries in the country.  The Biltmore Inn offers various wonderful choices for dining and serves a lovely Afternoon Tea. Dare I say, that the afternoon tea rivaled some of the best London high tea experiences.

Afternoon Tea at the Biltmore

Afternoon Tea at the Biltmore

During our stay at the Biltmore Inn we took advantage of some of the many activities they offer. We enjoyed a session of Sporting Clays. In the picture I am shooting a 20 gauge double barrel shot gun.  At first I was a little intimidated seeing the shotgun. With the coach’s guidance I found myself holding and shooting the shotgun. The instructor uses a computerized system to propel 6-inch clay discs from different locations into the air that you then attempt to hit. And to my greatest surprise I actually hit the clays. Even my husband was shocked. Annie Oakley, move over!!! Another fun activity is the Land Rover driving school where you get instruction on off-road driving. Other activities include: fly fishing, horseback riding, hiking, river trips, Segway tours, biking, and carriage rides. There is plenty for the whole family to enjoy.

Annie Oakley Move Over!

Annie Oakley Move Over!

One very special activity that we did was a Private Food Demonstration that I arranged through the Biltmore Catering Department. A wonderful menu was especially prepared for us and demonstrated by Chef Kirk together with his sous chef and pastry chef. In addition, we had the wonderful service of two waitresses that made sure the champagne and wines were appropriately matched. All of this took place in one of their catering kitchens. The session was an amazing display of cuisine by a professional and friendly crew offering us an experience and lunch to remember.

Our Private Food Demonstration

Our Private Food Demonstration

The Biltmore Estate is still privately owned by the Vanderbilt Family and employs 1700 people and is visited by more than one million guests a year. We enjoyed a wonderful tour of the Biltmore Castle and its extensive gardens. The audio tour guide provided with the admission ticket is a great way to enjoy the property and learn its history. We really enjoyed the Biltmore Estate and hope to return again someday.

Our Delicious Private Food Demonstration Menu

Our Delicious Private Food Demonstration Menu

For more information on foodie tour in Asheville go to:  http://eatingasheville.com/

For more information on the Biltmore Estate go to: http://www.biltmore.com

The National September 11 Memorial and Museum

My summer travels brought me to a very special place, to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. The Memorial commemorates the almost 3000 people killed on the September 11, 2001 terror attacks at the World Trade Center, at the location near Shanksville, PA , and at the Pentagon; and the 6 people killed in the World Trade Center bombing of 1993.

The 9/11 Memorial

The 9/11 Memorial

The memorial features twin reflecting pools, each with a waterfall in the middle that appears to go on forever. The massive pools, each measuring approximately one acre, sit where the Twin towers used to be. The names of all the victims are inscribed into bronze panels surrounding the pools. The victims’ names are very specifically organized by location of attack, by company or crew they worked with, or by first responders. There are even computer screens that allow you to type a name and find its location in the Memorial.

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Honoring Angela, Susan, William Timothy, Ronald, Horace, Amenia, Gerald, and Patricia and her unborn child.

I grew up in New York City and experienced the construction of the Twin Towers. My father even has 8mm film footage showing the World Trade Center in the making. As for many fellow New Yorkers, this attack was extremely painful. Not only had we lost the Twin Towers, a favorite New York City landmark, we had lost thousands of innocent people in this attack. I had visited the World Trade Center site several years after the attack, and the new buildings and the Memorial were still under construction. Walking around the site then was still extremely emotional. In August I had the opportunity to visit the completed Memorial and I felt it was beautifully done. The emotions were still there. I walked up to the pools and gently passed my hands over the many names of the victims in hopes of paying tribute. It was hard to keep the tears back. As I walked around the Memorial I noticed that some of the names had white roses. A white rose is placed on the victims’ names on their birthdays. This whole area felt like sacred ground to me.

Remembering Jon Charles Vandevander's birthday.

Remembering Jon Charles Vandevander’s birthday.

If you are in New York City don’t miss the opportunity to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. The Museum was not opened yet when I visited but it is nearing completion. The 110,000 square feet museum is built over the World Trade Center archaeological site where you can see some of the original architecture of the Twin Towers. For more information on the 9/11 Memorial and Museum go to:

 http://www.911memorial.org/

The 9/11 Memorial uses water as part of its beautiful design. To me water symbolizes “cleansing”, starting anew, but knowing the lessons of the past.

I also share the following excerpt from The Healers Journal Blog.

Water carries all life. But water is beyond time, for it bears in its flow the seeds of future life, as well as the memory of past life. Water mediates between life and death, between being and not being, between health and sickness. – From: http://www.thehealersjournal.com/2013/05/24/the-hidden-metaphysical-properties-of-water/#sthash.fVicxoqO.dpuf