Published: March 19th 2012March 11th 2012
Day two…. We woke up early today excited to have a hot breakfast Hampton Inn style only to be disappointed. For some reason this Hampton Inn’s definition of a hot breakfast consists of fresh waffles, but microwaved pancakes, chicken biscuits and French toast. Not very hot and not very good. We were disappointed, but had a full day ahead of us, so we ate there anyways.At least the coffee was decent.
We checked in at Biltmore, which was about a 10 minute drive from Flectcher. Very close and very convienent. Once we got past the front gates of the estate, it was another 2 mile drive thru the woods to get to the parking lot. In my mind, it was very Ireland-esque. You had tall trees, cobblestone bridges and lots of greenery…. All leading up to what one hopes to be the “wow” factor of the estate. Once we parked, we had to trek another 8 minutes on foot, but I dare to say that our initial view of the estate was Wow worthy.
Biltmore House is a Châteauesque
-styled mansion built by George Washington Vanderbilt II
between 1889 and 1895. George’s older brothers and sisters built opulent summer houses
in places such as Newport
, Rhode Island
, and Hyde Park
, New York
Biltmore is the largest privately-owned home
in the United States
, at 135,000 square feet and featuring 250 rooms. In an attempt to bolster the Depression
-driven economy, Vanderbilt's only child, Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt
, and her husband, John Amherst Cecil, opened Biltmore House to the public in March 1930. Family members continued to live there until 1956, when it was permanently opened to the public as a house museum. The estate today is owned by George’s grandson, William Cecil I and is run by William Cecil II. Biltmore remains as one of the most prominent remaining examples of the Gilded Age
and significant gardens in the United States.
Biltmore has a 70,000-gallon indoor swimming pool, bowling alley
, early 20th century exercise equipment
, two-story library
, and other rooms filled with artworks, furniture and 19th-century novelties such as elevators, forced-air heating, centrally-controlled clocks, fire alarms and an intercom
system. The Biltmore grounds also include 75 acres of formal gardens, but due to the timing of our visit, no flowers were in bloom yet. So we only had the Conservatory to look at. The orchids were very pretty and colorful. Also on the estate… Antler Village which hosts a winery, a petting farm and the Inn on Biltmore Estate, a 213-room hotel.
Since we had the option of coming in and out of the Estate, we decided to hit downtown Asheville for lunch and then head back to the estate for Antler Village and wine tasting. We got to downtown and based on Wayne and Erin's recommendation, we stopped by Early Girl Eatery. Early Girl Eatery is described at southern cooking using fresh local ingredients. It was very busy and smelled good. We started off with Broccoli Cheddar Hush Puppies served with apple butter and creamy garlic dressing. Mary had Shrimp and Grits, Betsy had Local Sausage and Sweet Potato Scramble and I had the quiche of the day with a side salad (shitake mushroom and farm fresh cheese). All very good and I have to say... the salad was quiet refreshing and very very good. I firmly believe the salad was the difference that kept my vacation weight gain to 1 pound less.
After lunch, we went back to the estate and headed to Antler Village. We walked thru the winery and did wine tasting. I think between tasting the various whites, roses and reds, we were two glasses down before able to make a decision as to what we wanted. I ended up getting the house white, house red and cabernet sauvingon. I also picked up a limited edition Merlot, but I'm still deciding as to whether or not it will be given away.
After we finished the tasting it was about 5:45 pm. Most stores closed down around 6:00, but it was still too early for dinner. So we decided to visit the fancy McDonalds that was outside of the estate, but within Biltmore Village. We opened one door and it was locked, then we went to another... still locked, let's give another door a last try... That's weird, does the McD close at 6:00 too? Someone finally was nice enough to let us know that there was a watermain break, so they had to close because there was no water... Ah.. makes sense now..O well, at least we got a peek at the grand piano.
It was still too early for dinner but we didn't want to go back and hang out at the hotel... so what does one do?? One visits the local grocery stores. We stopped by the American owned store... Ingles. I was looking for local honey and we were looking for overall snacks... no local honey, no snacks. So let's move onto Earth Fresh. It's their local WholeFoods. Found the honey and time was passed. Let's just head to dinner.
We had dinner at Tupelo Honey Cafe, another Wayne-Erin recommendation. Except we went to the one in Henderson versus Downtown. Tupelo is Ashe-tenthic fresh ingredients, cooked in ways that are guaranteed to delight your tastebuds! I would have to agree. We had fresh biscuits with blueberry sauce. I"m drooling thinking about it again.... Mary had a small green salad, Betsy had Southern Fried Chicken BLT and I had Fried green tomatoes and Tupelo Tofu wings. Yep that's right.. Tupelo Tofu Wings... I was intrigued. It was quite yummy. It tasted like fried tofu with buffalo wing sauce. Quite flavorul... healthy? I'll let you decide. The day ends again with delicious food. Good eats.