Tag Archives: The Biltmore Estate

A Few Days in Asheville

26 Oct

Earlier in the week, I went to Asheville, North Carolina, one of my favorite cities. It is an artistic city with eclectic shops, art galleries, interesting restaurants and, during this time of year, sits among the fall foliage of the Appalachian mountains. Unfortunately, I wasn’t artistic enough to remember my camera. So, if I include pictures, then they are going to be of the stock variety.

We arrived on Sunday morning and spent the afternoon exploring downtown. We hit a few shops and galleries, but my favorite store was a tribute to that short period of the 1960s when hippiedom was the rage. It was filled with tie-dyed shirts, beads to hang in doorways, posters of Jim Morrison and albums by The Grateful Dead.

Downtown was packed with people from all walks of life. Tourists mingled with locals, and it was not difficult to tell who was who. Mainly, the locals had their dogs. Asheville is a dog-friendly city, and man’s best friend is welcome both inside and out. However, the sidewalks were not only filled with sightseers and pets. It seemed that every corner had a musician playing for tips. Being from Nashville, this is a common thing to see. The difference, i.e. great part, was that they were not playing country music.

The sidewalks were also filled with vendors selling their wares. The most interesting was a lady who made candles in which the melted wax could be used as lotion. She invited everyone to stick their hands in the wax to try it out. I passed. I don’t like lotion.

Anyway, downtown was great, but the best part was a total surprise. We ran into the Asheville Jewish Festival and filled ourselves with hummus, potato latkes with apple sauce and sour cream, and kosher hot dogs. It was awesome stuff.

After the jaunt through the city, we drove to the Grove Park Inn, a rustic, Victorian Era hotel with one of the top spas in the country. We didn’t have time to visit the spa, but we had plenty of times to sit by the fire in the lobby and have cocktails. Some of the most famous people in American history have stayed at the Grove Park Inn, and, unlike this post, they have the pictures to prove it.

Ok, I broke down and used stock photos.

On Monday, we went to the place that everyone must visit while in Asheville, the Biltmore Estate. Built by George Vanderbilt in the 1890s, it is the largest home in the United States. Covering 175,000 square feet, the house is a monument to the extravagances of the Gilded Age. Honestly, the house is too amazing to describe and has to be seen to be believed. I have been several times and am impressed each time I go.

Another stock photo.

After touring the mansion and having lunch in the stables-turned-restaurant, we drove to the Biltmore Winery and sampled its creations. I am not a big wine person. It all tastes the same to me – like vinegar. But, I think I am cultured enough to act right during a wine tasting. I am not sure what I was drinking, but everyone else seemed to like it. I took that as a good sign for a winery in North Carolina.

The day ended with dinner at The Bistro, the restaurant that is attached to the winery. It tries hard to be on the cutting edge of the food scene. Does it succeed? I don’t know, but I know that I really liked the duck breast with potatoes soaked in orange sauce.

The next morning, we hopped into the car for the trip back home. Along the way, we had breakfast at the Cracker Barrel in Newport, Tennessee, and I realized that had made it back to the real world.