Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

18th Annual Gingerbread House Competition

October 28th, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

The 18th Annual Gingerbread House Competition is coming up at the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa.  There is still time to enter if you’ve ever had dreams of winning. Even children can enter and win cash prizes!

The competition date is Tuesday, November 15th. Deadline to enter is Monday, November 8th.  Full details can be found on the Grove Park Inn website.

For those who cannot make their own gingerbread house, you can admire all the work during the Display period which will run from November 17 – January 2, 2011.

And the best part is that we have a room Special going on through January 5, 2011!  Our Half Off Special gives you 50% off the nightly rate for the 3rd night of your stay (good on stays between Sundays – Wednesdays).  Check our Specials Page for full details!

It’s the End of Summer and I Can’t Think!

August 31st, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

I’m not a writer, so I can’t have writer’s block. I’m not a blogger, so I can’t have blogger’s block.  But I’ve definitely been having trouble coming up with the topics and the energy to write anything. I think it all started in June when my dog, Hummer, passed away. Since then, I began working at Eagle’s Nest Foundation and July and August have been pretty busy months at the Inn. Between being depressed about losing my baby and dealing with the summer crush as well as a new job, I feel like I haven’t had the energy or inspiration. You’d think that with all the summer action around here, I’d have no problem coming up with interesting topics.

But I can’t think of ANYTHING that I want to/feel like write about!

I’m sure I could blog about the new piece of flooring in the kitchen I had done last week ($1600 later and it’s only 1/4 of the entire kitchen floor space). Or, I could talk about the Family Reunion Cruise I just returned from (I probably will share that soon). There’s also all the fun summer activities that took place in Asheville or the cool fall lineup, including the Flower Carpet at Biltmore and Octoberfest (another beer festival). There’s a wedding at the Inn this weekend that could inspire me to write and another one the first weekend in October that I’m preparing for. Lastly, I could always talk about my super sister, Jessica, and her admirable battle with breast cancer these past six months (another probably will blog).

There are definitely lots of topics to write about. I just need to find my mojo and get back into the groove.  I’d really love to hear from anyone (professional writer, blogger, or novice) what tips they might like to share with me and the general public about how they deal with the infamous “block” that invariably happens.  What can/do you do to get past it?

Three Reasons to Send Your Kid(s) to Summer Camp

July 17th, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

As a youngster growing up in Virginia, I was extremely fortunate to have gone to summer camp for five years at Camp Rim Rock for Girls in West Virginia. My experiences have stayed with me to this day and because of the joy I had, I was able to send my son Brian to Camp Woodmont in Georgia for a few years while we lived in Florida.

Recently, I began working part-time at the Eagle’s Nest Foundation in Pisgah Forest, and it has brought back so many positive memories of my camp experiences from the 1980′s.  The Eagle’s Nest Foundation operates Hante Adventures, The Outdoor Academy, and Eagle’s Nest Camp.

Hante Adventures run during the summer for 13-18 year olds. These adventure trips last anywhere from two weeks to a month and provide many of the skills experienced at camp, but in different ways. This year, there are four Hante trips: Outer Banks, Appalachian Trail (AT) Trek, Australia, and Southwestern US Canyons. Small groups trek through the wilderness while rock climbing, biking, and whitewater paddling while learning invaluable skills and making lifelong friends.  In the past, trips have gone all over the US and the world.

The Outdoor Academy of the Southern Appalachians is an academic semester-long program for 10th graders, set on the campus of the Eagle’s Nest Camp. There is a fall semester and a spring semester and students live on campus while enjoying and experiential education. The curriculum of the Outdoor Academy is considered a college prep program with small classes in English, Natural Science, World History, Math, Languages, and Arts.

Eagle’s Nest is set on 180 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains. That alone is enough incentive to send your kid(s) to get them off the couch or in front of the TV/video game console. The Eagle’s Nest Camp offers one-week, two-week, and three-week sessions to kids, ages 6-17. Camp is so much more than a babysitting service for parents. In fact, that’s not it at all.  I have learned that at this camp, kids come back year after year, many become Junior Counselors and Counselors. Parents also become counselors while their children attend camp and get to enjoy the “camp” experience as well.

Here are three more reasons to consider sending your kid(s) to Eagle’s Nest:

  1. Adventure – Being in the mountains, Eagle’s Nest offers campers a nature setting to explore their environment and try new things. They will climb mountains, paddle down the French Broad River on a homemade raft, go rock climbing, and backpack on overnight camping trips.
  2. Leadership – The purpose of this camp is to help young people discover their true selves through activities that promote community awareness and establish a connection with nature. Leadership skills are enhanced and developed when kids work towards common goals like building their own raft, building sets for their session play, and putting together an overnight camp during a hiking trip.
  3. Education – The mission of Eagle’s Nest is “Experiential education for young people, promoting the natural world and the betterment of human character.” Activities are not mindless time fillers; they all serve an educational purpose while encouraging campers to live naturally, responsibly, and respectfully.

I ended this post with the Summer Camp, but in reality, it is just the beginning of Eagle’s Nest. The amount of loyalty towards Eagle’s Nest is impressive and kids go from summer camp to Hante Adventures to The Outdoor Academy, to possibly camp counselors/Academy Instructors, and on. Being a non-profit, Eagle’s Nest Foundation is overseen by a Board of Trustees, many of whom have sent their children to camp or had some association with the Foundation prior to becoming a Board member. There is a strong sense of family within this Foundation and if you are looking for something different in your kid’s summer camp, I encourage you to check out Eagle’s Nest. This is not just another summer camp; it rises above and offers so much more than the average camp experience. Your kid(s) will never forget their experiences here and the value of what they take away is worth so much more than money.

Kick Back and Kook’s Culinary Weekend: Feasting with Brew HAS BEEN POSTPONED!

May 26th, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED – WE WILL POST THE NEW DATE SOON!

Dates: June 4-5, 2010

Where: 1847 Blake House Inn Bed & Breakfast,150 Royal Pines Drive, Asheville (Arden), NC, http://www.blakehouse.com/

Tickets are still available!

Davin McCoy & The Coming Attractions are honored to be able to play two days at this festival which is going to be great fun and proceeds from this event go to eliminate Spinal Muscular Atrophy, the #1 genetic cause of death in children under the age of 2. Fight SMA with food and while sampling Asheville’s best beers and listening to GREAT live music!

The event is hosted by Chef Angela McKeller who has been featured on The Food Network and is a great supporter of the band. This event supports Angela’s favorite charity: The Hope and Light Foundation.

If you are looking for a culinary event to spice up your summer then put June 4-5, 2010 on your calender. The “Kick Back and Kook: Feasting with Brew” event is taking over The 1847 Blake House Inn! Angela McKeller teams up with local micro-breweries in Asheville (rated BEST in the country for microbrews!) and offers an exploration of taste featuring seasonal, local ingredients and evening cooking classes as separate events (details below), including an Iron Chef Competition with prizes!

Don’t miss it! Best “Kooking”, Jamming, Brewing event of the summer! For weekend packages that include accommodations, please contact the Innkeeper, Leslie Kimball, at 888.353.5227 or 828.681.5227, http://www.blakehouse.com/. Want to add an extra night or two so you can explore Asheville, the Biltmore, the breweries? Come a day early, stay a day after and you’ll get a 10% discount off the nightly rate for the extra night(s).

To buy tickets (which will sell out fast!) go to https://www.facebook.com/kickbackkook.

Events:

Friday, June 4, 2010:
Beer and Truffles

2:30 – 4:30pm
$29 per person, or attend both Fri & Sat Afternoon classes for the just $47! Limited tickets available, buy tickets in advance to guarantee your spot!

Think beer and chocolate don’t go together? One of Asheville’s most popular microbreweries will come by and explain the ins and outs of brewing, the difference between one brew and another and give a presentation on how to pair beer with chocolate! Angela McKeller of “Kick Back and Kook!” will be offering her recipes for three types of Chocolate Truffles you can make at home, but taste them now, taste the chocolate and beer together yourself to see just how compatible these flavors really are! Think it’s never been done before? Think again! Also, live music by Davin McCoy and The Coming Attractions will make this an afternoon to remember!

Soufflés Made Simple
6:00pm – 9:00pm

$45 per person. Reserve your spot early, limited to just 25 students!

Angela McKeller will take you further down the culinary path, deep into the heart of Paris. Or at least you’ll feel like that is where you are! French for “puff up”, Angela will demonstrate just how easy these seemingly difficult, but impressive dishes are for dinner and dessert! On the menu: Shrimp Soufflé with Creamy Dill Sauce; Spinach and Ricotta Soufflé and Dark Chocolate Soufflé. Bring out your inner Julia Child, get ready for Summer and say “Bon appétit!”

Saturday, June 5, 2010
Simple Summer Desserts Sampling and Brew Tasting
1pm – 3pm

$29 per person, or attend both Fri & Sat Afternoon classes for the just $47! Limited tickets available, buy tickets in advance to guarantee your spot.

Angela McKeller will offer samples of the most delicious summer dessert recipes she’s developed and encountered during her culinary career. On the menu: Chef Mike Carrino’s Cherry and Apple Tart to Angela’s own Flambéd Brandied Peaches to Chef Jerry Solomon’s Zabayon, a simple but delicious Italian custard served with mixed berries, you’ll experience it all! And yes, these all go great with your favorite beer! While this is a sampling of desserts and beers, it is also an opportunity to get to know Chef Angela McKeller, ask her as many questions as you can think of about these delicious desserts and become acquainted with one of Asheville’s best microbreweries and their brews!  Again, live music by Davin McCoy and The Coming Attractions will make this afternoon experience even more amazing.

Iron Chef Competition!
6:30pm -9:30 pm

$65 per person.  Reserve your spot early, limited to just 25 students!

Who will win? The Salad Spinners or the Wire Wisks?! “Kooky” prizes to the winners!

Paired off into two groups, munching on some of Angela’s most popular dips while you “kook”, two teams will go head to head, competing to see who can create the best meal of the evening! Who judges? You do!

Everyone is given a score card to fill out without anyone else seeing. On a scale of 1-5, you try each others dishes and rate them, putting the score cards in a bowl for Angela to tally the scores while you finish dessert. The winning team gets a prize as “kooky” as Angela is!

On the menu:

Team 1:

* Goat Cheese Stuffed Figs in a Red Wine and Balsamic Reduction
* Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli in a Mushroom Cream Sauce
* Lemon Panna Cotta with Raspberry Coulis

Team 2:

* Baked Brie en Croute with Caramelized Walnuts
* Chicken Provençale
* Crepes with Strawberries and Rich Chocolate Sauce

With Asheville as the backdrop, who could ask for anything more? Beautiful scenery, delicious food, fun, kooky cooking classes, beer tastings, live music, the Biltmore Estate just around the corner and some of the best microbreweries around.

If You Do Not Avoid Type II diabetes Now, You Will Probably Hate Yourself Later

May 24th, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

Written by, Patricia Harris from Diabetic Menu Blog

While my son was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at the age of 17, Patricia’s blog offers very practical tips and menu options for anyone who is at risk for Type II Diabetes. – Leslie

Diabetes type 2 is easily the most common form of diabetes. An incredible number of Americans seem to have been told they have diabetes type 2 symptoms, and more are unconscious they’re at high risk. Some groups have a relatively higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes than others.  Type 2 diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Indigenous Americans, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, in addition to the aged population.

In diabetes type 2, either your body will not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. Insulin is necessary to the body to be able to use glucose for energy. After you eat food, the entire body breaks down the sugars and starches into glucose; that’s the basic fuel for any cells in your body. Insulin takes the sugar from your blood to the cells. When glucose builds up inside blood rather then going into cells, it can lead to diabetes complications.

Each person has the capability to improve and protect their present health. With proper nutrition and physical exercise and also making good lifestyle choices (like not smoking), you could feel better, stronger, and healthier, and can lower your risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart problems and cerebrovascular accident.

What exactly is Healthy Weight?

There’s a simple way to discover if your current weight puts you in danger of developing serious diseases. Visit www.diabetes.org/bmi and consider the Body Mass Index (BMI) test. The results will help you decide if you need to stress about your weight.

The Better You Eat, The Better You are

Below are a few basic guidelines that can help you and your family make healthier food decisions:

  • Eat numerous fruit and veggies.
  • Choose whole grain foods over processed grain products.
  • Try brown rice instead of white. Substitute whole wheat grains bread for white.
  • Eat fish 2 – 3 times per week.
  • Select leaner cuts of meat like those that end in “loin.”
  • Remove the skin from chicken and turkey.
  • Eat low fat dairy
  • Drink water and calorie-free non-carbonated beverages.
  • Use liquid oils for cooking as an alternative to solid fats.
  • Cut back on junk food like chips, cookies, cakes, and regular ice cream.
  • Find baked chips and reduced calorie snacks. Or have a bit of fruit instead.
  • Watch your serving sizes. Even too much “healthy” food could potentially cause weight gain.

Tips:

  • Compare labels of similar foods, then opt for the one with smaller amounts of saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.
  • Adults should consume lower than 2400 mg. of sodium daily. In case you have hypertension, it is best to prefer even less.
  • Try adding spices and herbs in your own cooking to take the place of salt for enhancing flavor.

A little bit of training goes a long way

Anything that gets you up and moving will work for you. Here’s what it can do:

  • Reduce your risk of developing diabetes type 2 symptoms
  • Reduce your risk of coronary disease and stroke
  • Lower hypertension and cholesterol
  • Reduce blood glucose (sugar) levels if you have diabetes, which can lessen your risk of developing diabetes-related complications
  • Decrease anxiety
  • Help you to lose fat
  • Provide you with more energy
  • Allow you to sleep better
  • Build stronger bones and muscles

You do not need to go to a gym, play sports or use fancy equipment. Certainly, it’s best to discuss with a medical expert before starting any exercise regimen.

If you have Diabetes

Maintaining a healthy diet and staying active are much more important in case you have diabetes. Well-balanced meals can help keep your glucose (sugar) level as near to normal as it can be. Being active likewise helps you reduce blood glucose. In case you increase your level of physical activity, you might be able to take less insulin or diabetes pills. In case you are inactive, have heart disease or maybe a history of foot ulcers, consult your doctor about safe exercise for you.

Check your blood glucose before exercising. If it’s under 100 mg/dl, eat some fruit, crackers or drink glass of milk or juice.

Check it again after exercising to understand how your blood glucose reacts to workout. Bring a snack if you’ll be active for a couple of hours.

About the writer

Patricia Harris writes for the http://www.diabeticmenus.org, her personal hobby web site aimed at guidelines to eat healthy to prevent and manage diabetes.

Beer, Food & Fundraising: A Combination That Can’t Miss

May 18th, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

In just a few weeks, the 1847 Blake House Inn B&B will be proudly hosting the Kick Back & Kook Culinary Event: Feasting With Brew. The dates of the events are Friday, June 4 & Saturday, June 5. We almost changed the date due to another event going on in Asheville the same weekend: Beer City Brewfest. However, there are some major differences between the two events:

  • The Beer City Brewfest is ONLY on Saturday, June 5th while our event is on Friday AND Saturday. So people can attend both!
  • The Beer City Brewfest is a beer-focused event. Our event is primarily a culinary event with beer pairings. The focus of Feasting With Brew is not on the Brew; it’s on the FOOD with the BREW!
  • The Beer City Brewfest is not pet-friendly, but we are!!!
  • Ticket prices for the Brewfest are $35/each; our ticket prices are only $29 for each day, with cooking classes offered Friday & Saturday nights for $45 & $65 each respectively.
  • Feasting With Brew is a FUNDRAISER! All proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Hope & Light Foundation (information below). Eat, drink & mingle while supporting a great cause!
  • Feasting With Brew will include raffles and silent auction items including a FREE night stay at the Inn, the cookbook: Passion on a Plate and apron from Chef Angela McKeller, items donated by local Asheville shops, plus other local arts & craft items. This event is about so much more than beer.

Of course I have a bias for the Feasting With Brew events, but I am in no way dissing the Beer City Brewfest. The timing of our events still allows people to attend both!  Following are the full details of our Kick Back & Kook Culinary Event: Feasting With Brew:

Tickets can be purchased HERE as well as on the day of the event at the Inn. There is a DISCOUNT if you buy tickets for Friday & Saturday! If there are any Asheville businesses that would like to sell tickets, please contact Angela McKeller. Ticket sellers can make a little $ for each ticket you sell!

Book a room at the Inn for the weekend (at least 2 nights) and receive a 10% discount off the ticket price of ANY event you attend! Plus, the FIRST room reservation for that weekend will receive a FREE 1847 Blake House Inn B&B soup mug. The mugs just arrived this week!

Hope to see you there!

Asheville & Beer: A Tastey Combination

March 7th, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

In 2009, Asheville was barely edged out by Portland, OR as Beer City USA’s favorite place for beer. Didn’t know Asheville was even in the running? Well, Asheville has nine local breweries and brewpubs, and is adding more each year!  The city even offers a Brews Cruise that takes guests around to a few of the breweries to learn about each location’s special brews and allows guests to taste test their most popular brands. In addition, I just learned that downtown Asheville offers a beer-only shop! It’s called Bruisin’ Ales and a trip is definitely in order. This store boasts over 800 brews from around the world (and around the corner). You’ll find rare brews, exceptional seasonals, and other hard-to-find limited releases. The unique bottle shop set-up allows customers to “Mix-a-Six.”

The names of Asheville’s breweries are as creative as their beer. With names like Highland Brewing Company, French Broad Brewing Company, Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company, Pisgah Brewing Company, Wedge Brewing, OysterHouse Brewing, Craggie Brewing Company, Lexington Avenue Brewery and Green Man Ale & Brewing Company, you know you’re in for a real treat. In March 2010, a new brewery will be introduced to Asheville. Mother Earth Brewery will be adding to the increasing list of craft beers.

As some of my readers may know, I have teamed up with a Kook (cook), a charity, a band and a couple of Asheville’s local breweries for a one-of-a-kind weekend Culinary Event: Feasting With Brew to raise money for The Hope & Light Foundation.  I have donated the Inn for the weekend to Angela McKeller from Kick Back & Kook who will be offering beer and dessert tastings as well as cooking classes the weekend of June 4-5, 2010.  Davin McCoy & The Coming Attractions from Atlanta have donated their time and musical talents to come up to Asheville to play their brand of music (likened to Cat Stevens, Dave Matthews & Shawn Mullins).  The schedule for the weekend consists of:

  • Friday, June 4: 2:30 – 4:30 pm – Beer & Truffles ($29) – Think beer and chocolate don’t go together?  Pisgah Brewing will come by and explain the ins and outs of brewing, the difference between one brew and another and give a presentation on how to pair beer with chocolate!
  • Friday, June 4: 6-9 pm – Souffles Made Simple ($45) – French for “puff up”, Angela will demonstrate just how easy these seemingly difficult, but impressive dishes are for dinner and dessert! On the menu: Shrimp Soufflé with Creamy Dill Sauce; Spinach and Ricotta Soufflé and Dark Chocolate Soufflé.
  • Saturday, June 5: 1-3 pm – Simple Summer Desserts Sampling and Brew Tasting ($29) – On the menu: Chef Mike Carrino’s Cherry and Apple Tart to Angela’s own Flambéd Brandied Peaches to Chef Jerry Solomon’s Zabayon, a simple but delicious Italian custard served with mixed berries, you’ll experience it all!
  • Saturday, June 5: 6:30-9:30 pm – Iron Chef Competition ($65) – Paired off into two groups, munching on some of Angela’s most popular dips while you “kook”, two teams will go head to head, competing to see who can create the best meal of the evening! Who judges? You do! Everyone is given a score card to fill out without anyone else seeing. On a scale of 1-5, you try each others dishes and rate them, putting the score cards in a bowl for Angela to tally the scores while you finish dessert. The winning team gets a prize as “kooky” as Angela is!

This culinary fundraiser promises to be a real treat for everyone who attends. The beer/dessert pairings are open to 200 people each while the cooking classes are limited to 25 participants each. In addition to Pisgah Brewing, we are working with another local brewery for Saturday’s tasting and will announce who that will be once the details have been worked out.

Asheville already has five beer festivals throughout the year, including Winter Warmer, Oktoberfest, Baseball & Beers at McCormick Field, Beer City Brewfest and Brewgrass. Maybe the Feasting With Beer event will become the next annual festival.

Asheville Food Tours – Downtown 2

February 6th, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

Asheville is slowly becoming a foodie’s paradise. From restaurants that embrace the Farm to Table concept, to vegetarian restaurants, to eco-conscious cafes, this city is on the verge of something great. Already known as an artist’s city and home to the grand Biltmore Estate and Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, Asheville can now add food city to its resume.

Within the past several months, one of my innkeeping comrades, Chris Ortwein, has started offering food tours in downtown Asheville & Biltmore Village.  There are three different tours, each with between six – nine restaurants or shops where tour goers get to taste test foods, wine, local beer, spices, chocolate, and just about anything food-related. In December, my mother and I went on the Biltmore Village Tour and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, as well as stuffed ourselves with everything from calamari to beet soup to chicken skewers.

Today, we braved the chilly and sometimes rainy weather, to go on one of the two downtown tours.  I enjoyed myself even more, if you can believe it. Everyone met at the Grove Arcade at 1:45 and off we went at 2:00. Our first stop was the Flying Frog.  I had eaten lunch there several times, but had never been downstairs where they serve dinner. The Chef at the Flying Frog, I learned, is German and Indian, so his menu combines dishes from both cultures. We sampled some duck breast over sweet potatoes and arugula with an apple butter sauce. I had never tried duck before and was pleasantly surprised.

Next, it was on to The Chocolate Fetish, my favorite place. I already buy chocolate truffles from there for our Romance Packages, but I got to try something new today. They were serving dark and milk chocolate truffles topped with two different types of sea salt. Salt, you ask? Yes, a very fine and expensive type of sea salt. The combination of chocolate and salt was surprisingly delicious. I will definitely try those again.

Stop 3 was the Spice & Tea Exchange where we got to sample some run-of-the-mill pork rinds sprinkled with a spicy salt mix. Again, surprisingly good. Mom vowed to come back after the tour to pick up a pitcher they had that had a small canister-type thing inside where you can put lemon, lime, orange slices, or whatever you want. Fill the pitcher with water and the juice from the fruits will seep into the water to taste it without the seeds getting into the water. There was also a spice she wanted to get. But since we had to keep moving with the tour, we had to come back afterwards.

Stop 4 was the Green Sage Coffeehouse and Cafe. The owners of the Green Sage are the same people who started Earthfare. After it became successful, they sold them and started the Green Sage. It calls itself the greenest restaurant in Asheville, and for good reason. Just about everything they use, buy, sell, whatever, is produced locally, recycled, or composted. The restaurant produces so little trash that it only needs one small trash bin. There was a line to the door of customers waiting for coffee, tea, smoothies, or other quick-make foods. Our group got to taste some delicious tomato soup, a quiche, turkey sandwich, and a veggie burger of some sort.  The drink was a red berry sparkling cider that I had never seen before. Everything was delicious!

Next, we were off to Fiore’s, an Italian restaurant with a Tuscan flare. Here we got to sample some beer from local brewery, Asheville Brewery, called Old School Pale Ale. Delish! Along with that was a small caesar salad and a New York-style pizza with tomatoes, garlic, and spinach. i don’t typically like thin-crust pizza, but there was something about the crust. While it was thin, it tasted fluffy. Very good pizza.

Then, we walked several blocks to the Soda Fountain inside the Woolworth Walk. The Woolworth Walk is “store” with artist booths throughout and a small soda fountain off to the side. Here we had a root beer float which really hit the spot.  Afterwards, we crossed the street to Mayfels and got to sample a binette (sp?). It was a puffed, warm, doughy pastry shaped like a small square and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Served fresh out of the oven, they were wonderful after being out in the cold.

I had always heard good things about Cucina 24, but had never been until today. Located on Wall Street, the backside overlooks the intersection of College Street and Patton Avenue. It’s owned by two brother chefs and they serve upscale Italian food. Chef Brian demonstrated for us a crepe filled with a cheese mixture (with a bunch of other savory seasonings which I can’t remember). Rather than roll it up like a traditional crepe, he rolled it into a ball, then baked it in the oven for about 5 minutes. It came served with a slightly spicy chunky tomato sauce, just the way I like it.  I definitely will be going back there!

Our last stop on the tour was Carmel’s, a restaurant I have been to many times. It’s located omn one of the corners of the Grove Arcade, where we first met for the tour. This place is great, especially during the summer when you can sit outside and people watch to your heart’s content. Today, Chef Sugar (as she’s called) demonstrated a tuna, avocado, cucumber dish that was topped with a sauce mixture that I can’t remember. I am not a fan of raw tuna, but was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it when it was paired with all the other items.

I had not been to most of the places on the tour so I am extra glad to have been able to go today. Thanks again to Chris for opening the tours up to innkeepers (at no charge) as he gets them going. I was able to pick up menus from most places for the menu binder I keep at the Inn for guests and now I can recommend some of these places. Plus, there are a couple I definitely want to return to. One of the benefits of attending the tours is that you receive a passport afterwards that can be used for up to 5 days after the tour at all of the places on the tour. And you receive a discount, typically 10%, when you present the passport for a future meal.

I hope to be able to go on the other Downtown Tour before the end of February since it also has several restaurants I haven’t been to. Right now, I am offering 2 FREE tour tickets to guests when they stay 2 or more mid-week nights (Mondays – Thursdays) in February. This is a $50 value and well worth the ticket price. Biltmore Village tours are on Tuesdays, Downtown Tour 1 is on Wednesdays & Fridays, and Downtown Tour 2 (the one we went on today) runs on Thursdays and Saturdays. All tours start at 2:00 and last about 2 1/2 hours. Walking and eating, a great combination!

Recipe: Apple – Walnut Crisp

January 31st, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

Apple-Walnut Crisp (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium apples, cored & chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 2 tbsp. cold butter
  • 1 cup Raisin Bran (or any bran flake cereal) – I use Raisin Bran because it has raisins in it.
  • 1/2 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Instructions:

  • Spray ramekins (4, 6, or 8 oz.) with cooking spray.
  • Core apples and chop into bite size pieces. Put apples in a medium bowl. Sprinkle 1/2 tbsp. of cinnamon over apples and mix.
  • Put apple/cinnamon mixture into 4 ramekins.
  • In a bowl, mix remaining 1/2 tbsp. of cinnamon, 2 tbsp. of brown sugar, and 1 tbsp. of flour. Mix well.
  • Add 2 tbsp. of butter to mixture and mash butter into mixture until it becomes crumbles.
  • Add Raisin Bran and walnuts to mixture and mix well.
  • Spoon mixture over the tops of the apples.
  • Put ramekins on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.
Variations: In the fall and winter, I like to add fresh cranberries to the recipe for a little added tartness. You can also add pears, nectarines, or pineapple to the recipe.

June Culinary Event

January 13th, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

Details for the Kick Back and Kook Culinary Event: Feasting With Brew to benefit The Hope and Light Foundation are coming together very rapidly. Angela McKeller has done a whole lot of work in a very short period of time.

Below are the details:

Dates: June 4-6, 2010

Where: 1847 Blake House Inn Bed & Breakfast

Events:

Friday afternoon: Beer and Truffles  2:30 – 4:30pm. $29 per person

Think beer and chocolate don’t go together?  One of Asheville’s most popular microbreweries will come by and explain the ins and outs of brewing, the difference between one brew and another and give a presentation on how to pair beer with chocolate! Angela McKeller of “Kick Back and Kook!” will be offering her recipes for three types of Chocolate Truffles you can make at home, but taste them now, taste the chocolate and beer together yourself to see just how compatible these flavors really are!  Think it’s never been done before?  Think again!

Friday Evening: Soufflés Made Simple 6:00pm – 9:00pm. $45 per person

Angela McKeller will take you further down the culinary path, deep into the heart of Paris. Or at least you’ll feel like that is where you are! French for “puff up”, Angela will demonstrate just how easy these seemingly difficult, but impressive dishes are for dinner and dessert! On the menu: Shrimp Soufflé with Creamy Dill Sauce; Spinach and Ricotta Soufflé and Dark Chocolate Soufflé. Bring out your inner Julia Child, get ready for Summer and say “Bon appétit!”

Saturday Afternoon: Simple Summer Desserts Sampling and Brew Tasting 1pm – 3pm. $29 per person

Angela McKeller will offer samples of the most delicious summer dessert recipes she’s developed and encountered during her culinary career. On the menu: Chef Mike Carrino’s Cherry and Apple Tart to Angela’s own Flambéd Brandied Peaches to Chef Jerry Solomon’s Zabayon, a simple but delicious Italian custard served with mixed berries, you’ll experience it all! And yes, these all go great with your favorite beer! While this is a sampling of desserts and beers, it is also an opportunity to get to know Chef Angela McKeller, ask her as many questions as you can think of about these delicious desserts and become acquainted with one of Asheville’s best microbreweries and their brews!

Saturday Evening: Iron Chef Competition! 6:30pm -9:30 pm.  $65 per person

Who will win? The Salad Spinners or the Wire Wisks?! “Kooky” prizes to the winners!

Paired off into two groups, munching on some of Angela’s most popular dips while you “kook”, two teams will go head to head, competing to see who can create the best meal of the evening! Who judges? You do!

Everyone is given a score card to fill out without anyone else seeing. On a scale of 1-5, you try each others dishes and rate them, putting the score cards in a bowl for Angela to tally the scores while you finish dessert. The winning team gets a prize as “kooky” as Angela is!

On the menu:

Team 1:

  • Goat Cheese Stuffed Figs in a Red Wine and Balsamic Reduction
  • Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli in a Mushroom Cream Sauce
  • Lemon Panna Cotta with Raspberry Coulis

Team 2:

  • Baked Brie en Croute with Caramelized Walnuts
  • Chicken Provençale
  • Crepes with Strawberries and Rich Chocolate Sauce

On-site accommodations are limited so book your room early! Want to add an extra night or two so you can explore Asheville, the Biltmore, the breweries? Come a day early, stay a day after and you’ll get a 10% discount off the nightly rate for the extra night(s).

The first 3 room reservations at the B&B for the Culinary Weekend that include at least one of the fundraising events will receive a FREE Blake House Inn Handmade Soup Mug. All of our mugs, pitchers, keychains, and Do Not Disturb signs are hand thrown custom stoneware from Deneen Pottery out of St. Paul, MN.

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