Sometimes you just need to get away. Take a break from work, from home, from responsibilities. Escape from reality. And the rain. My husband Alex and I were in desperate need of a few days off, and so we decided to hit the open road for a roadtrip to Asheville, N.C. Why Asheville? We knew we wanted to have a combination of relaxing downtime, nature and of course, great food. Throw in some challenging mountain biking and America’s Largest Home – The Biltmore House, and we were sold. Oh, and the 6 hour drive was a bonus!
This was the ideal time of year to visit Ashville. The leaves are beginning their transition from dark forest greens to deep ambers, ochres and burgundy. Upon entering the Biltmore Estate, you feel as though you’ve entered another time. It felt as though we were Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy strolling through the vast forest, until it opened up to wide open fields at the foot of rolling hills.
There are so many wonderful aspects to the Estate, but the top prize goes to the food. George Vanderbilt wanted to create a self-sustainable estate, one where they could live off of what the land produced. The vegetables served are grown in the kitchen garden, the beef is from their very own cattle, dairy from their Jersey cows, mountain trout from the river. Anything that is not from the estate is purchased locally, resulting in some of the most flavorful food I have had the priviledge to feast on. The dishes are incredibly innovative with flavor pairings that taste like heaven on a plate.
Duck Breast and Leg Confit with Ricotta Gnocchi, Tomato and Pineapple Compote and Pea Shoot Salad
The duck was spectacular! The luscious tomato and pineapple compote was laced with a hint of allspice which proved to be a delightful contrast to the gaminess of the duck. The breast was cooked to prefection, the confited leg deliciously sweet and tender. The ricotta gnocchi were light and fluffy, and ideal little sponges to mop up the sauce.
The mountain trout was rich and buttery in flavor but light and flaky in texture, the crunch of pecans adding the desired contrast. The baby bok choy was sweet and crisp and the potatoes were savory and with a velvety texture.
Flat Iron Steak with Gorgonzola and Fingerling Potato Gratin, Sauteed Kale and Cabernet Sauce
Let me just start off by saying, this meal was out of this world. There is no way I can possibly convey how good these dishes tasted. My new mission in life is to recreate these at home! The steak was extremely tender and paired exquisitely with the full-flavoured gorgonzola potato gratin. The kale brought a warm earthiness whereas the rich, fragrant sauce brought the dish full circle, uniting all the flavours in perfect harmony.
These were the best ribs I have ever, ever tasted. Sweet, sticky, succulent and tender to the bone. The mouthwatering sweet potato puree was infused with vanilla and was silky smooth. The desired cut of acid and crunch came in a crimson package, red cabbage and apple tossed with apple cider vinegar.
I’m a sucker for Creme Brulee, so even though it’s tried and true, I still adore it. The thin veil of caramelised sugar cracked open to reveal a dense and creamy creme with a hint of coffee flavour. A sublime end to a spectacular trip.