By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America
If you’re still looking for lodging for the April 29 Annual Meeting in Asheville, NC, consider the city’s vibrant Bed and Breakfast community. Many B&Bs still have rooms available for the Asheville herb-centered weekend. And, many of those have herb/kitchen gardens.
Doing some advance work, Gary and I scouted three on the last weekend of January. Our stays were organized by the Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association which has a robust website detailing options and availability.
Following you’ll find our experiences. Another blog will talk more about the kitchen gardens at these inns.
Sweet Biscuit Inn, 77 Kenilworth Road, 828.250.0170 is a meticulously restored seven-bedroom, 1915 Colonial Revival about 1½ miles south of downtown. Decorated in the soft ocean shades of a spa, our room (#3) had a queen bed cushier than my expensive, new, pillow-top mattress. The attached bath had a modern-vintage sensibility including claw-foot tub. Most notable, however was the hospitality. The room could have been a little rough and I’d still rave about the Inn because Claudia and Christian Hickl are uber-attentive to detail. The Hickls are German-born, but spent nine years running an Inn in Provence, France. When we walked through their heavy, red front door, delicate pink, raspberry macaroons (those trendy little puffs of almond air nestling jelly) called to me from the hall table. Manners ignored, I snagged two. Christian pointed our nap-ready selves to amenities on the second-floor landing such as cold, bottled water, tea and a single-serving coffee maker. Then he helped roll our suitcases down the hall.
The next morning was a highlight of our culinary experiences in Asheville and that’s no faint praise in this foodie mecca. Claudia celebrates morning with a three-course meal. We launched into breakfast with handcrafted granola lightly spiked with the Italian citrus-vanilla essence known as Fiori di Sicilia. The next layers were yogurt and cranberry fruit coulis. Happily, I paced myself so I was still hungry for a presentation of homemade rosemary bread, topped with prosciutto and poached egg and a light Dijon mustard sauce. Gary shared a bite of his still warm croissant spread with homemade orange marmalade. Just when I thought I couldn’t eat anymore, Christian held up a blackboard chalked with crepe menu. I’d eaten Nutella crepes in Paris and Cleveland, and this was my chance for Grand Marnier-sprinkled crepes Suzette. You bet I relished them. My regret is we only had spent one day with the Hickls. We’d definitely return.
Beaufort House Inn, 61 North Liberty Street, 828.254.8334 personifies a historic, downtown home. A visit to the 1894 Queen Anne Victorian gives you bragging rights to sleeping in Charlton Heston’s former home. It’s a convenient ½-mile walk from downtown, which will probably be important in summer as parking can be a challenge. Owner Christina Muth accommodated our midnight arrival. It had taken us eight hours to drive from northeast Ohio after an early work day. That night I barely registered the patina of the restored oak paneling which framed the grand staircase. Despite my fatigue, however, I discerned the sweet, high-thread count cotton sheets in the Garden Room. Then, suddenly, it was morning. Appraising the room, I appreciated the fireplace and balcony. After a quick shower in the clawfoot tub, my caffeine fix was satisfied with locally roasted coffee in a sitting room. Roasted sweet potatoes with rosemary – which winters over in the Asheville climate – and scrambled eggs in a puff-pastry cup spoke to the eyes and appetite. Conversation with other guests was part of the charm in the light-filled breakfast room. I wish I could say more about the Muths, but we enjoyed their hospitality for roughly 10 hours, most of those asleep.
The Hawk & Ivy, 133 North Fork Road, Barnardsville, 828.626.3486 is a retreat for those who want to get out of the city and spend some meditative time in the country. About 25 minutes from Asheville, it’s located on 24 acres of rolling land. A highlight here is the stretches of terraced and manicured kitchen gardens. But, that’s for another blog.
We drove in close to 9 p.m. Jareth, a feisty Corgi and his owner James Davis welcomed us. Within moments we climbed steps to the second floor of a cottage and paused to star gaze. Away from the city Orion was bright and I saw stars usually dimmed at home by sprawling suburban skyshine. ( Was that the Milky Way?) Our “room” was a basic studio apartment. A small kitchen, equipped with coffee and tea, was separate from a main room which was carved into living and bed room. No worries of disturbing other guests.
The next morning Eve, a dedicated garden and floral designer, welcomed us with warm hugs. Her Southern hospitality included a tour of her historic 1910 home, where one guest room is available. The house is a mini-museum of family antiques reaching back to an 18th century grandfather clock. Eve goes on to spin relevant family Civil War tales.
Breakfast started around 9 a.m. with a homemade basil-blackberry sorbet topping sweet grapefruit with a side of warm tomato biscuits and orange marmalade. The second course was spinach omelet composed with local eggs.
After breakfast, hugs were had and we turned right to begin our journey north.
Local and sustainable food is the mantra at these B&Bs. * When making reservations, be sure to alert them to dietary restrictions and identify needs for handicap accommodations.