Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Love in the Mountains

Every October, Miss Chef and I carve out a few days to get away for a romantic anniversary trip. The mountains are part of what brought us to North Carolina, and I am happy we take advantage of their proximity on a regular basis. It doesn’t hurt that our anniversary falls around leaf-peeping season.

We usually stay in the area around Asheville, and this year we opted for the small college town of Brevard. We’d stayed here once before, outside of town, but Miss Chef knows the area better than I, having spent a summer here for a high school program at the college.

That time we had rented a cabin in the woods, and brought along Rosie. This time we opted to stay in town, finding our best deal at the Inn at Brevard. Though it sounded promising, and I thought I recalled driving by the grand façade several years earlier, when I later looked it up on Google’s street view I was disappointed to see what looked like an unattractive strip motel.


Ah well, I thought, we can’t always fall lucky. I knew we’d still enjoy our time away, regardless of the accommodations.

Well, I was wrong. We did fall lucky this time. Turns out the main building does have some rooms in it, six to be precise. And somehow, though we’d only booked a couple of weeks in advance, we’d ended up in one of them.

It also turns out that this house is indeed historic, built in 1885 for a wealthy widow from Virginia. It has been maintained in that effusive Victorian style marked by delicate, expensive clutter everywhere you look. Normally this style seems irritatingly fussy to me, but I was instantly smitten by its unapologetic charm. I quickly fell in love with this silly place.

Inn at Brevard 10 (17)

This is the main entrance—clusters of chairs interspersed with lace-covered tables mobbed by family portraits and extravagantly shaded lamps, with walls obscured by paintings of various eras and levels of artistry. As we mounted the stairs, I told Miss Chef it reminded me of Harry Potter, and I kept half an eye open for unexpected movement within the frames.

Our room was decorated in an equally exuberant, albeit more rustic style.

Inn at Brevard 10 (5)

There were three mirrors in the room, not counting the one in the bathroom. I sadly didn’t get a photo of the freestanding tub, but I did get one of the wallhanging over the bed that entranced both of us.

Inn at Brevard 10 (3)

Yes, as far as I could tell, that’s real, thought Miss Chef seemed obsessed with the possible authenticity of the teeth. I suppose this recalls a Victorian gentleman’s hunting lodge décor, though several of the amateur paintings leaned more in the direction of Wild West cabin.

The next morning, I had to snap a few more pictures downstairs before we left for the day.

The main dining room. There’s a small bar through the white door you see on the far side of the dark wood sideboard. This isn’t just an inn, it’s a bed and breakfast with dinner service open to the public.

Inn at Brevard 10 (10)


I couldn’t resist the gravitational pull of that highly ornamented sideboard. There was just so much to look at!

Inn at Brevard 10 (14)


Here’s a shot from the far end of the dining room across the main entrance and into the breakfast dining area. Mirrors, mirrors everywhere.

Inn at Brevard 10 (16)


And another angle into the breakfast room.

Inn at Brevard 10 (18)


Though we did spend a lovely morning wandering through downtown Brevard, it wasn’t until we headed off in the afternoon toward Asheville that I felt compelled to pull the camera out. We took the long way around, through Pisgah National Forest and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Miss Chef drove the whole way, for which I was enormously grateful. She seemed to enjoy my ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the ever-changing views as much as the views themselves.

Mountains 10

I retouched this photo to lighten it up, as the day was pretty overcast and the camera failed to capture the scene as well as the eye. I’d guess we finally hit the area during the peak of the fall color. It really looked like the mountains were overlaid with a fluffy quilt picked out in colors of gold, orange, red and burgundy. A color scheme I’d never choose, but which Mother Nature uses to incredible effect.

Mountains 10 (12)

We dined at Nightbell, the second restaurant of Katie Button, who owns Cúrate where we’ve had to eat during every trip to Asheville the past five years or so. It was ok, but several of the dishes seemed better in theory than they turned out in reality—flavors overcome with sauces, traditional dishes that were good, but not particularly interesting.

We returned to Asheville the next morning, for brunch at Rhubarb, which was much more our style. Lots of locally-sourced ingredients, and Miss Chef was happy to find a brunch that included lunch items as more than an afterthought.

Of course I had to explore the offerings of French Broad Chocolate Lounge, which recently moved into much larger, more centrally located digs.

Asheville 10 (4)

Asheville 10 (6)

Miss Chef spoiled me by stocking up on any bar of 60% cacao she could find. She does know what I like.

And I know what she likes. So I was perfectly ok with taking another detour on the way home, to visit Fonta Flora brewery in Morganton. Nothing like a midafternoon drink to ease your way back into reality.

Fonta Flora 10

1 comment:

  1. That Inn is beautiful, just the kind of place I would love if travelling. The space and the light and the wood ... so relaxing and lovely. My husband ran a similar place for a couple of years. (That is also how I got familiar with catering and food beyond my own cooking - I helped out with special events from time to time.) It, too, was a combination of the original (stone) house and a newer, less attractive addition, but the dining room was open to everyone including non-guest traffic. Original marble and decorative plaster ceilings. Old fireplaces in original house section. It must have been a marvellous home back when it was owned for private use.

    Your trip sounds restorative and a balm for the eyes, with those gorgeous leaves! Ours are at a similar stage, and that reminds me - I should make a trip across our mountain while they are at their best.


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