Asheville, North Carolina — a three hour drive from Atlanta — has a long history as a place of healing that documents as far back 1795, beginning with the Native American Indians, yet comes full circle today as the gem of the south for food lovers.
With a long line of physicians arriving in Asheville to further underscore its conduciveness to healing (particularly tuberculosis), it was the coming of the railroad in 1880, and the arrival of Dr. S. Westray Battle in 1885, that caused the super wealthy to take note. Among the many great and legendary arrivals to follow Battle were George Vanderbilt, with an ailing mother in tow, and Dr. Edwin Wiley Grove — a patent medicine manufacturer whose pharmaceutical company made Bromo-Quinine. Each of the two men remained in Asheville. Vanderbilt stayed to build his family home, the Biltmore Estate, and Grove went on to conceive and develop a massive indoor commercial mall called Grove Arcade, in addition to the Grove Park neighborhood and the Grove Park Inn.
As the crown jewel of them all, Grove Park Inn was imagined by Grove as a place of pure majesty amidst a mountainous landscape in total absence of any form of contemporary design. Challenged to find an architect that could grasp the concept, Grove defied the norm, entrusting his son-in-law, Fred L. Seely, as designer and contractor. Despite Seely having no formal training in architecture, Grove Park Inn — a now Historic Hotels of America member — opened on July 1, 1913, following a construction period just three days shy of 12-months. Balanced and blending perfectly into its surroundings, it is a retreat of architectural significance visited by a long list of dignataries to include presidents and other U.S. royalty.
And while history is always good to know, food is better to taste!
With ambitions that include, but far often exceed traditional southern style cuisine and a craft beer scene recognized as one of the best in the country, Asheville's pedestrian friendly downtown scene is loaded with opportunities to depart fat and happy. The secret, according to some, is the incorporation of local ingredients and imported chefs from all around the globe in a community populated by transplants arriving from destinations beyond the southeastern United States. Either way, for the true foodie, Asheville is a must visit!
Where to Stay
Think charming when thinking Asheville. Recently acquired by Omni Hotels, the Grove Park Inn is a 513-room, AAA Four Diamond property nestled in between a residential community, has managed to retain its historical charm thanks to the sweeping views that take center stage immediately upon arrival.
Especially for the holidays, Grove Park Inn is magical, thanks in great part to an annual celebration of Gingerbread masterpieces, thousands of twinkling lights, nearly 100 Christmas trees uniquely decorated in various themes and more. Whether for the Gingerbread, Christmas, New Year's Eve, or anything in between, its full service offering (yes, they have a decadent spa), coupled with the charm of a neighborhood property, makes Grove Park Inn a manageable experience full of warmth and holiday goodness.
Grove Park's Culinary Scene
Imagine how wonderful it would be to start the day with a lavish buffet anchored by a juice bar offering fresh squeezed juice tonics, a beautiful array of fresh fruits and the option of a gluten free bar. On the flip side of that lies all of the breakfast traditions known to Americans from clear across the country, including a pan of buttery sticky buns, an omelette bar with all the trimmings, biscuits and gravy and more served daily at the resort's Blue Ridge Artisanal Buffet. Boasting "farm to table" ingredients, Blue Ridge serves breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets, a sumptuous Friday night seafood buffet, a ribs galore buffet on Saturday nights and a special holiday dinner buffet all in a resort casual atmosphere overlooking the mountains.
Also situated to take advantage of the mountainous views, is the resort's signature dining venueVue 1913. A AAA Four Diamond recipient, this American Brasserie under the culinary expertise of chef James Lumley, a Clive Owen double, encapsulates Asheville's modern day theme of a foodie haven. Lumley gets it. His food is an art designed to appeal to the eyes and appease the palate with both French and American emphasis. Take for example, a citrus, charred grapefruit arugula salad with lemon rouille; Lime, creme fraiche, bacon and lump crab; Sorghum braised vegetables, duck confit and sweet potato gnocchi; Roasted shallot-garlic croquette, seasonal vegetables, lambchetta with pinot au jus — get the picture?
And while all of the above sounds good, wait till the weather warms back up to endure the outdoor experience of fresh seafood and a mouth watering steak at Sunset Terrace!
Now it's time to get out and take advantage of the trails surrounding the resort, or a short drive into town for more foodie-fun!