|Inn on Biltmore Estate|
After we toured the mansion and gardens of the Biltmore Estate
in Asheville, NC last week
, we returned to the Inn
on the grounds where we spent the night and dined in the Estate Dining Room
. I can tell you without a doubt that everything about it was beyond our expectations. We enjoyed the same gracious hospitality and pampering as if we were old, personal friends of George
& Edith Vanderbilt
The Inn is in an idyllic setting overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and the Pisgah National Forest
. The Pisgah forest land was originally a part of Biltmore Estate until Edith sold nearly 87,000 acres to the federal government in 1915 after George Vanderbilt’s death, creating what now is the Pisgah National Park. Mt. Pisgah in the distance is an elevation of 5,721 feet. Can you imagine once owing a national forest? It is mindboggling and impressive to me. A virtual tour of the Inn
, including the beautifully appointed suites, the lovely guest rooms, the spacious lobby and library with a fireplace, and of course the dining room, is available on-line. The architecture is reminiscent of country inns of the late 19th century.
|View from the Inn & Dining Room|
The dining room
at the Inn is luxurious and the service impeccable. It's also a coat-and-tie and little black dress kind of restaurant. Everywhere you go in the Inn they use your name and always seem to be at your beck and call for anything and everything your heart desires.
Meakin started his meal with an appetizer of South Carolina Quail
with grilled peach jam atop a black pepper waffle and mache. The waffle was crispy as expected and the surprise bite of black pepper in the waffle batter paired beautifully with the sweet peach jam, the baby lambs lettuce, and southern quail.
|South Carolina Quail with Peach Jam on Black Pepper Waffle|
As a main course, he ordered Rabbit Pappardelle, which is braised rabbit with tomatoes, prosciutto, olives and charred green onions served over large, broad fettuccine. As you know, if lapin
is on a menu, one of us is bound to order it. The lapin
was succulent and fork tender and the tomato prosciutto olive sauce brought just the right amount of moistness to the pasta.
Meakin’s choice of wine was from the Reserve List – a Biltmore Pinot Noir. It was a complex, yet elegant Pinot Noir with delicate fruit flavors and reminiscent of a French Pinot Noir. It was so delicious that we brought a few bottles home with us that we picked up at the winery the next day.
He chose a Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay for me because I’m fond of buttery, full-bodied Chardonnays. My entrée was an old classic French dish, Lobster Thermador, made for special occasions that you don’t often see on menus today and needless to say, I was delighted. The stuffed lobster was garnished with a bright green whipped pea puree, and served with a mixed vegetable succotash, and drizzled with a rich, creamy lobster popcorn butter. As you can see, it’s eye-candy on a plate. The tail was stuffed with a generous amount of Maine lobster, lightly seasoned with brandy, French cheese (probably Gruyere), and bread crumbs. It made an outstanding entrée with the buttery Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay wine.
For dessert we shared a beautifully presented goat cheese cheesecake with a blackberry Merlot sorbet, a walnut nougetine, and blackberry jam. It was my birthday and Meakin had requested that they not make a big deal about it, so “Happy Birthday” was scrolled in chocolate above the cheesecake.
|Goat Cheese Cheesecake |
After dinner we lingered over espressos and brandy and mentioned to our waiter how much we enjoyed the goat cheese cheesecake and that we were hoping to make our own goat cheese at home sometime. All excited, he said he would like to introduce us to Chef Ryba, the Chef de Cuisine, because he makes his own cheeses. We had a delightful conversation with the Chef at our table and he took the time to tell us about how to make cheese and afterwards, he brought a sample of some flavorful, sharp blue cheese that he had made. As we strolled out of the dining room, we remarked to each other that this must be how the Vanderbilt’s guests felt when they retired to their room in the evening in the mansion so many years ago.
The “Field to Table” Program at the Biltmore allows the chefs to prepare the best of what the season has to offer, featuring seasonal produce, wine from their winery, and locally grown ingredients. Much of the produce is grown on the Farm at Antler Hill Village
on the grounds of the Biltmore. Antler Hill Farm
is a step back in time for a hands-on legacy that was the center of Biltmore’s farming community more than a century ago. The Kitchen Garden produces lettuces, tomatoes, herbs, beans, root vegetables, berries, and squashes. Here’s a look around Antler Hill Farm.
The horse barn and farm exhibit offer a closer look at what life was like for families who lived on the Biltmore Estate in the early 1900’s.
The barn was the social and work center for these families.
It is here that they worked and visited while their children played.
Some were blacksmiths.
Others worked in the wood shop.
While others raised livestock, tended crops, or worked in the dairy.
We’ll wander around and see the exhibits of turn-of the-century farm equipment and state-of-the art tractors of the time.
On the farm, meet some chickens, sheep, a donkey, and Belgian draft horses.
|A chicken enjoys some sunflower seeds|
There is so much to see at the Biltmore Estate and through the years they have added many new attractions and opened more rooms in the mansion to the public. If you have never been or haven’t been in a while, you owe it to yourself to visit if you are in the Asheville, NC area. Christmas
at Biltmore Estate is a very special time and also in the spring when 50,000 tulips and over 1,000 azaleas burst into bloom in the garden are a spectacular site to see. Allow a full day or more to tour the mansion, gardens, farm, and winery and be sure to read the tour tips
. Our visit ended as we purchased wines and vowed to return soon for a complete tour of the winery
– the most visited winery in America.