Because I couldn’t possibly fit all the wonderful things that went on at the Food Blog Forum in Asheville, NC into one post, I decided to break my account up into a few smaller, more manageable bites. This is the second post in my series on the 2014 Food Blog Forum in Asheville, and here’s a link to the first. I’m picking up my account at the end of a busy day at the Lioncrest property on Biltmore Estate, following a morning filled with hearing excellent speakers, a delicious lunch prepared by the chefs there at Lioncrest, networking with other bloggers, and getting to meet the folks from OXO and KitchenAid.
At the end of the conference itself, we got the scoop on some big news: Food Blog Forum 2015 will be held in Orlando, home to that famous chef, Minnie Mouse. Here you see Anne and me modeling reproductions of Minnie’s famous apron,- I believe the original apron is probably in the Smithsonian, next to Julia Child’s kitchen. Or not.
So, late Monday afternoon, The Biltmore Estate treated the food bloggers to a tour that would make ANY foodie or history buff drool: we were given a special tour of The Biltmore House, titled the The Butler’s Tour, which took me to a room I have never visited before, in all my visits to the house: the Butler’s Pantry.
There are two special hidden doors that lead in and out of the butler’s pantry, and as you might guess, they are located off of the Breakfast Room, and the very large Dining Room. The kitchen staff prepared food in the spacious downstairs kitchen, and then loaded the large platters and tureens of food onto two dumbwaiters that run between the downstairs kitchen, and the Butler’s Pantry on the first floor. In the butler’s pantry, the food was unloaded from the dumbwaiters, and placed on an island in the center of the room. The walls surrounding the island on two sides were filled with beautiful sets of china and crystal – two floors worth of china and crystal! So, from there, the food was plated and made ready to be served in the dining room and breakfast room. Such a cool tour it was, for a foodie, a lover of Downton Abbey, or even just someone who loves history.
So, after our tour, we were driven up to the top of the hill that overlooks the house, (I believe they call that lot the Rachel) where the Biltmore Estate hosted a lovely reception for all the conference attendees. They had set up a massive tent, where the chefs from the various restaurants on the Estate had set up stations with delicious specialties from each of their restaurants. Here’s the view from the top of the hill:
They served two lovely wines at the reception, a Pinot Grigio and a Pinot Noir, that are made there on the estate. I enjoyed the Pinot Grigio, and I have to say that the quality of the wines wearing the Biltmore Estate label have vastly improved since I first tasted them, around 10 years ago.
I do want to give my most sincere thanks to the folks at the Biltmore Estate. George Vanderbilt would have been delighted with the warm hospitality you showed your guests, by the excellent cuisine, and by the lovely wines you served. The Biltmore Estate is a destination I hope to visit again, and again. There’s always something more to see, something new to learn, and if I ever learned it all, I’d still have the gorgeous scenery of the Blue Ridge mountains to look at, the cool mountain air, and the warmth of the people of Asheville to enjoy.