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Biltmore + More

December 21, 2009

Greetings from South Carolina!

Yes, we finally made it.  US Airways, though they may totally suck, actually came through in the end.

Food was totally miss on the hit or miss scale while traveling.  Usually I pack myself something to snack on that’s halfway nutritious and rely on bars to fill in the blanks.  But with all the travel delay and changes, I really didn’t do a good job of packing anything, so I subsisted on Larabars, apples, and oranges.  Great snacks – not meals.

We arrived in Greenville about 5:30 PM yesterday.  Joe and Andy (BILs) picked us up and we dropped by a Bi-Lo (grocery store chain, apparently) and picked up a couple things to tide me over until we could make a real grocery store run.

I grabbed Fage 0% (I prefer 2% but that’s all they had), a half gallon of soymilk, cheese sticks, 3 honeycrisp apples (for a grand total of $6.22, these might be the most expensive apples I’ve ever eaten), a jar of PB, a jar of grape jelly, and a pack of rice cakes.

I thought I was about to die from hunger when we got off the plane but I guess my body gave up because I really only felt like eating an apple with a puddle of PB when we sat down to eat.

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What you don’t see is that the puddle of peanut butter is actually a peanut butter LAKE underneath the monster sized apple.  (Plus jelly)

Several cups of chai tea and I hit the sack.

Sometime during the night, I woke up with this guy snuggling on my feet.

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This is Wiggles, who is currently giving me the evil eye next to me on the couch.  Oh, the life of a cat.

This morning, I whipped out the laptop and did a little work before we headed out to Asheville to tour Biltmore.

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[ Source ]

Unfortunately, no photography is allowed, which is really too bad since if there is ever a place for pictures, that house is it.

Cool things about Biltmore:

  • Took only 6 years to build (1889 –1895)
  • Largest privately-owned home in America at 175,000 sq feet
  • Has a 70,000 gallon underground pool housed in the basement
  • Has a 2 lane bowling alley
  • Elevators, dumbwaiters, and an intercom system

I was really impressed with how immaculate and detailed it is.  The Grand Staircase has little doors every 10 or so steps that open to the outside where there is an outside staircase that winds up the side of the house.  There are secret (or hidden, not so sure they were really meant to be “secret”) entrances into strange places, like an entrance onto the balcony of the library from one of the 35 guest rooms.

I’d estimate less than half of the house is open to visitors.  I’m amazed at the capability of the architects at the end of the 20th century.  (To be fair, these weren’t just any old architects – they were the creme de la creme of the time as Richard Morris Hunt was the lead.)

The house was definitely drafty, though, so we didn’t stay quite as long as we would have had we been warm.

On our way out of the 8,000 acre family compound, we headed to the Biltmore Estate Winery, who just so happened to be giving free tastings!

I was a happy camper.

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I tried the Syrah, the Sangiovese, and the Malbec and all were excellent.  My favorite was the Malbec, but I bought a bottle each of the Sangiovese and the Malbec.

By the time I was done drinking my weight in free wine we were done at the Winery, we were absolutely starving and still had a 1-1/2 hour drive back to Greenville.  We tossed around the idea of eating in Asheville, but decided to drive back anyway and go to Carrabba’s in Greenville.  I took my semi-annual nap in the car on the way.

For dinner, I debated between the Pollo Rosa Maria (wood-fired chicken breast with proscuitto, fontina, mushrooms and a lemon basil butter sauce) and the Chicken Bryan (wood-fired chicken breast with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and a lemon basil butter sauce).  I finally went with the Pollo Rosa Maria with garlic mashed potatoes and a cup of the awesome spicy chicken soup to start.

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(Apologies for the dark pictures.  Restaurant lighting leaves something to be desired)

The soup is mostly broth with diced carrots, onions, celery, and maybe potatoes (?) plus a little bit of shredded chicken breast.

Shortly after I finished my soup, out came the Pollo Rosa Maria.

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A-mazing.

The husband is obsessed with this dish.  He’s tried to replicate it at home and while we get close, we can’t quite capture its awesomeness.

It’s simple – basically a grilled chicken breast stuffed with proscuitto and fontina cheese, then topped with sauteed mushrooms and a lemon basil butter sauce.  The thing we can’t quite replicate is the chicken – it has an amazing wood-fired taste that our gas grill just can’t infuse.

So.  Delicious?  Yes. 

Good for you?  Uh, no.  The sauce is made of butter.

Veggie-ful?  No.   In fact, I have been sorely lacking in veggies the last 2 days (I’m totally craving a big salad) but that’ll get corrected soon enough.

No big plans for us tomorrow during the day.  I plan on not working as much as I have tonight and there will be a grocery trip that involves green leafy foods.

Tomorrow night we’re doing Christmas!!!

Hope you all are staying warm and cozy.  🙂

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 22, 2009 4:21 AM

    Glad to hear you guys finally made it into SC! Looks like you’re having a blast so far. Cute pic from the winery.

  2. December 22, 2009 5:00 AM

    I love Carraba’s, their gluten free menu is pretty big, the staff always seems like they know what gluten free means and don’t ask me questions like “so you want your salad without croutons and gluten free?”…blank stare…

    Anyway, glad you arrived safely!!

  3. December 22, 2009 11:13 AM

    Yummy, that dinner sounds like perfection! I just started reading your blog today, and I’m so excited to find someone from Dallas to read about! (live there for 2 years, but the husband’s from Plano) Hope the trip is amazing (as I’m sure it is) 🙂

  4. December 22, 2009 8:58 PM

    Happy you made it! That chicken dish looks SO tasty. I can imagine it would be hard to replicate — things that look that good (and obviously, taste that good) are hard to re-create.

    I’m sure you’ll get lots of veggies in soon enough. 🙂

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