Archive for the ‘Special Events’ Category

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 Festivals – Something For Everyone

February 20th, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

Asheville offers an almost year-round festival schedule and you will find something for just about everyone from flowers to arts to sports to food to gay pride. I wasn’t even aware of some of these events until I decided to put together this blog and started doing some research. Starting in late January and going to November, this city stays busy!

Listed below are all the festivals I found, in chronological order, with a link (if I could find one) to the official website:

January

  • Asheville FringeArts Festival (held in late January – sorry, this one has already passed for 2010) – provides artists with opportunities to explore the edges of their work, collaborate across genres and bring new and innovative performances to culturally adventurous audiences.

February

March

  • Jazz After 5 Concert Series - Jazz After Five concludes Friday, March 12 from 5-8 pm, held at Pack Place. The Jazz evenings raise funds for operations of the Asheville Downtown Association and last year collected donations for Manna Food Bank. Attendees are encouraged to bring non-perishable items to the concert and to leave them at the collection points.

April

  • Festival of Flowers – April 3 – May 16 – The Biltmore Estate – This year is the 25th anniversary of the “festival.” Herald spring at Biltmore with acres of blooms to boost your spirits and more Biltmore to enjoy than ever with the new Antler Hill Village.

May

  • Asheville Herb Festival – April 30 – May 2 – WNC Farmers Market – The WNC Chapter of the NC Herb Association represents the incredibly wide variety of herbalists and herb businesses in North Carolina: herb growers and vendors, natural gardening and landscaping specialists, and makers of herbal ointments, balms, soaps, teas, medicines, and other products.
  • Festival of Flowers – April 3 – May 16 – The Biltmore Estate – This year is the 25th anniversary of the “festival.” Herald spring at Biltmore with acres of blooms to boost your spirits and more Biltmore to enjoy than ever with the new Antler Hill Village.
  • Lake Eden Arts Festivel (LEAF) - May 6 – 9 – Camp Rockmont, Black Mountain, NC – a non-profit organization connecting cultures and creating community through music and arts.
  • Downtown After 5May 21 – 5 – 9 pm – Lexington Avenue, between Hiawassee Street and I-240. Free live music and dancing starts at 5 pm with food and drink available for purchase.
  • Mountain Sports Festival – May 28 – 30 – Events are all over the greater Asheville area, but the Festival Village is located at Carrier Park on Amboy Road, along the French Broad River in West Asheville. From intense trail running to laid-back disc golf, from adventure racing to the Iron Kids events, from high speed track racing to whitewater kayak clinics… there is something here to entertain and challenge you!

June

  • Downtown After 5 – June 18 – 5 – 9 pm – Lexington Avenue, between Hiawassee Street and I-240. Free live music and dancing starts at 5 pm with food and drink available for purchase.

July

  • Shindig on the Green - July 3, 10, 17, 31 – 7 pm – Pack Square green in downtown Asheville – This mountain tradition features an always-enjoyable variety of  Big Circle Mountain Dancers, Clog Dancers, Bluegrass and Old Time String Bands, Ballad Singers, and Storytellers.
  • Downtown After 5 – July 16 – 5 – 9 pm – Lexington Avenue, between Hiawassee Street and I-240. Free live music and dancing starts at 5 pm with food and drink available for purchase.
  • Bele Chere – July 23 – 25 – downtown Asheville – Bele Chere is a street festival with a wide variety of arts, music, food, beverages, events, and children’s
    activities.

August

  • Mountain Dance & Folk Festival – August 5 – 7 – 7 pm – Diana Wortham Theater – Since 1928, mountain fiddlers, banjo pickers, dulcimer sweepers, dancers, balladeers and others have come to enjoy themselves “along about sundown” the first weekend in August.
  • Shindig on the Green - August 14, 21, 28 – 7 pm – Pack Square green in downtown Asheville – This mountain tradition features an always-enjoyable variety of  Big Circle Mountain Dancers, Clog Dancers, Bluegrass and Old Time String Bands, Ballad Singers, and Storytellers.
  • Downtown After 5 – August 20 – 5 – 9 pm – Lexington Avenue, between Hiawassee Street and I-240. Free live music and dancing starts at 5 pm with food and drink available for purchase.
  • Goombay! - August 27 – 29 – downtown Asheville – this African-Caribbean festival brings a variety of family-oriented entertainment from steel drums to African-American dancers to local Gospel groups to contemporary rhythm bands.

September

  • Shindig on the Green - September 4 – 7 pm – Pack Square green in downtown Asheville – This mountain tradition features an always-enjoyable variety of  Big Circle Mountain Dancers, Clog Dancers, Bluegrass and Old Time String Bands, Ballad Singers, and Storytellers.
  • Organic Fest – The website is still showing 2009 information, but check back for 2010 updates. The festival celebrates everything organic with live music, organic food, vendors, arts and crafts and a kids garden parade.
  • Downtown After 5 – September 17 – 5 – 9 pm – Lexington Avenue, between Hiawassee Street and I-240. Free live music and dancing starts at 5 pm with food and drink available for purchase.
  • Brewgrass Festival - Saturday, September 18, 2010 – Martin Luther King Jr. Park, Asheville, NC – Each year in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina, we gather over 40 American breweries to showcase more than 120 different beers. We add a great lineup of national and regional bluegrass musicians and also feature a variety of area food vendors and plenty of water.

October

  • Blue Ridge Pride – October 2 – downtown Asheville – This event will encompass multiple events throughout the first week of October and culminate with an open festival at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park in Asheville, NC. In addition to live entertainment throughout the day, there will be vendor as well as educational booths.
  • Lake Eden Arts Festivel (LEAF) - October 14 – 17 – Camp Rockmont, Black Mountain, NC – a non-profit organization connecting cultures and creating community through music and arts.

November

  • Asheville Film Festival – website is still showing 2009 dates, but check back for 2010 updates – The Asheville Film Festival is produced by the City of Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department. The festival offers screenings, panel discussions, special presentations, and more.

Grove Park Inn Arts & Crafts Conference

February 15th, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

This weekend (2/19 – 2/21) is the 22nd Annual Arts & Crafts Conference at the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa. The conference is a one-of-a-kind event that includes workshops, educational opportunities, and tours of everything related to the arts & crafts movement. The conference also includes an arts & crafts antiques show, a book show, and a contemporary craftsfirm show.

For anyone interested, I have 4 FREE tickets for entry into the Antiques Show, the Contemporary Craftsfirms Show and the Books, Magazines & More Show for all three days. Each general admission ticket costs $10, but they are free to the next two reservations at Blake House Inn for this weekend.

Just taking a trip over to the Grove Park Inn (it’s about 25 minutes from Blake House) is worth it. The resort has several restaurants, a magnificent spa, and lots of nooks and crannies just to hang out in and people watch or read a book while enjoying the splendor of this early 1900s building.

Let me know when you make your reservation that you would like tickets and they will be here when you arrive. I’ve only got 4 left so once they are gone, they’re gone.

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.

Miscellaneous Happenings

January 7th, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

2010 has already been busy and we’re only a week into the new year.

First off, the weather has been a real downer with temperatures in the teens and single digits for at least a week.  And, we’re expecting some more snow this weekend (January 8 – 9). It’s a real challenge keeping this old house warm, but it forces me to be creative. The second floor is no problem since heat rises, but the first floor (thank goodness there’s only one guestroom on the first floor) is another story.  The pipes under the original house always seem to do okay, but the pipes under and in the kitchen never fare well.  Last winter we had 3 burst pipes. So far this year, I’ve seen one tiny pinprick leak in a pipe that’s been topped off. The next couple of days will see temperatures higher than freezing so it remains to be seen if there are any issues.

While the weather outside has been truly frightful, I’ve been keeping busy, taking down holiday decorations. I pace myself so it takes a good week to get everything down and packed away.  Everything outside is finished and all but the Parlor and two guestrooms have been packed away. I hope to get that completed today and tomorrow.

At the same time, I have been making some changes to two guestrooms: the Rose Room & the Magnolia Room.  As soon as the changes have been completed, I will update the room photos and descriptions.  The main changes involve switching the beds between these two rooms.  The king/twin beds that were in the Rose Room have been moved up to the Magnolia Room and the queen bed from that room has been moved downstairs to the Rose Room.  The main reasons for the switch are 1) the Rose Room is a handicap accessible room and the king/2 twin beds were just too high for someone in a wheelchair and 2) with a queen bed in the Rose Room, there is more floor space to maneuver around if a guest is in a wheelchair.  Also, with a the king bed in the Rose Room, it had to be configured such that is blocked off half of the built-in bookcase and I simply hated that.  Now with a queen bed, the bed can be moved to a different position and the bookcase can be used fully. It looks so much better. I’ve also been installing bedside wall sconces on both sides of the bed, changing the curtains into a roller shade on the door and adding a painted window to the transom above the door. Just small adjustments that make a big difference.

I should have photos of the room changes within the next week so check the Rooms Descriptions Page (under Rooms & Rates) to see what I’ve done.

Lastly, I’m working with a previous guest, Angela McKeller, to put together a fabulous culinary weekend during the weekend after Memorial Day. Angela won a recipe contest I had a few years ago and since then, she has written her own cookbook and hosted her own cooking show, among other things.  Angela lives in Atlanta so she will be coming to the Inn and working her magic for a few days. We’re still working on the details, but this will be an all-inclusive package with demonstrations, cooking classes, accommodations (if desired), and tie-ins to the Asheville community (possibly Biltmore or Asheville Food Tours). It is shaping up to be a fun time so definitely check back often for more details.

Turkey Trivia and Asheville Thanksgiving Options

November 18th, 2009 by Skyla Grimes

Here’s something fun to try. A 20-question Thanksgiving test. See how well you do. I did horribly and only got 5 correct out of 20!

http://home.aristotle.net/Thanksgiving/trivia.asp.

For anyone who will be in Asheville on Thanksgiving, if you are still looking for a place to eat some holiday grub, here is a very short list:

I am happy to make reservations, just give me three options (location and time) and I’ll do my best for you.

The Anything But Lazy Days of Summer

July 7th, 2009 by Skyla Grimes

Our typical “busy” season runs from Memorial Day through New Years, with a few gaps in between where things slow down. By busy, I mean that most weekends are full and mid-week is 40%-60% occupied.

This year, I have been holding my breath with the slower economy, but can actually report that May and June were good months. Still, there is a little way to go before we get back to where we were last year since the first quarter of 2009 was very slow.

If I can report any trends in travel as I have seen it this year, there have been two major differences. One, people are not traveling for as long as they had in past years. Average stays during the summer were 4-5 nights and this year, the average is closer to 2.5-3 nights. Secondly, I am not seeing as much advance reservations. It used to be that people would make their summer plans 3-6 months in advance. This year, that advance planning is about 1-2 weeks before they come. That makes me a little nervous since I am not getting booked on weekends, in some cases, until the week of.

Other trends are that people are not traveling from as far away and most of my guests are visiting from the east coast. People are also looking for bigger bargains and cheaper rates. While my rates are slightly lower from 2008 for several rooms, I am looking for ways to increase the guest experience while here rather than simply offering the cheapest room. Most people who stay at B&Bs are looking for a different experience anyway and recognize the added value that they get when staying at a B&B versus a standard hotel.

As with any old house, the work is never done, so I am staying busy this summer maintaining the gardens and updating/renovating throughout the property. I just bought a new fountain for under the pergola and as soon as I get a pump and install it, guests will have another water feature to enjoy as they walk up to the house. I recently had a dead pine tree removed from the corner of the front porch and just planted 3 purple crape myrtle bushes in its place.

Summer is also the time of year for the majority of our weddings and receptions. We had a wedding/reception in June, July 4th weekend had a reception and we have 2 weddings coming up at the end of July and mid-August. I try to keep the number of events to a small number each year since every event causes wear and tear on the house and property. I average 6-10 events a year with the majority being between May – October. We also have elopements here and other small gatherings and events so that keeps things exciting.

Since I try to do as much work around here as possible, I love to barter with other local service providers for their work. I’ve gotten landscaping done through barter and am open to anyone who has a service they’d like to trade.

Pulling Off a Last Minute Elopement

March 30th, 2009 by Skyla Grimes

Normally, I ask for 30 days when people request one of my Elopement Packages, mainly because finding an available minister can be tricky. However, I am happy to say that I pulled off the fastest elopement in Blake House history this past weekend. We did it in 5 days!

I got an email Tuesday morning from a past guest who asked if I could pull together an elopement for her and her fiance (they had stayed here with me twice before) for the coming weekend. Cheryl and Keith have two children from previous relationships and both would be with them this weekend and so they thought, why not see what they can do about getting married. Keith owns his own lawn and nursery business so it’s difficult for him to get away, but apparently, this weekend could work so they were hopeful and surprised when it actually came together.

They were also looking for something very simple and did not want to go for one of my Elopement Packages since they would have their kids and my packages are not really set up for families. So, I put together something very simple, and they actually found a minister which took a lot of the pressure off.

I work with some very wonderful vendors and want to thank Alecia at Sweet Bouquets Florist (no website yet, but her number is 828.684.0810). She came through with a beautiful nosegay bridal bouquet with roses, baby’s breath, and other greenery. Kristin at Dessert First made a delicious lemon and raspberry cake with buttercream frosting for 4-6 people. I also provided some Sparkling Cider so that all four could enjoy a congratulatory toast with their cake for dessert.

Because we had been having rain for the past two days, the ceremony was held at 8:00 pm in one of the dining rooms in front of the fireplace (so romantic with all the candles on the mantle). I remember sweating while moving several tables and chairs out of one dining room and into the other to make space for the ceremony and thinking that the weather is finally turning warmer.

My mother and I were witnesses and since I was also videotaping the ceremony for them (using their video recorder), I didn’t get to take my own photos. But, we took a few still photos and they are supposed to send some to me, which I will post once I get them. Afterwards, my mother and I had to move the tables and chairs back into the dining room and set the tables for breakfast the following morning. Though this was a simple ceremony, there’s still a lot of work before and after. It was almost 9:30 pm by the time we finished.

The family stayed in the Rose Room, and did I mention that they brought their German Shepherd dog, Storm, with them? The Rose Room is the only room that can accommodate 4 people plus a pet.

While I prefer NOT to pull these together with very little notice, I am certainly satisfied that this one worked out so well. The happy family left this morning with promises to be back, maybe even before their first anniversary.

I am happy to customize a package for anyone looking to personalize their experience and hope to assist many more couples with their wedding.

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Tags

»