Sunday, June 28, 2015

Exploring NC Omni Grove Park Inn...Asheville NC

 The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville NC.  This is one place in the mountains of NC that I have always wanted to visit.   I had heard about the beautiful rustic stone, the history, and about the amazing views of the mountains in the distance. It has been on my must see lists for some time.
This past spring I was on a trip with Silver Connections and part of our itinerary was a stop at the Grove Park Inn, to explore the Inn and to enjoy lunch at The Sunset Terrace.   I couldn't wait....

A quote from their site...
"With a $25 million transformation, The Omni Grove Park Inn is ready to offer you Southern comforts and modern conveniences whether your tastes lean toward the golf course or the spa. Enjoy easy access to shopping, fine dining and the performing arts in nearby Asheville, or hide away with us in the natural splendor of the Blue Ridge Mountains."
Quote from their site...."Four-hundred men worked 10-hour shifts six days a week. With only the use of mules, wagons and ropes, granite boulders, some weighing as much as 10,000 pounds, were hauled from Sunset Mountain to build the hotel. Seely kept his promise to be open for business in less than one year from the ground breaking. Just three days shy of one year, The Grove Park Inn opened on July 12, 1913."
Some shots of the interior...
 This quote was found on the rock fireplace in the lobby....
Quote from Romantic Asheville...
"The lobby is known as The Great Hall — and for good reason. Measuring 120 feet across, the hall features 24-foot ceilings and two gigantic 14-foot stone fireplaces. It’s famous for the elevators cleverly hidden in the chimneys of the stone fireplaces (put there to conceal the noise of the machinery), which continue to transport guests to their rooms"

 Heading down to the spa...
 Lots of steps.  Good exercise after an amazing meal.
Quote from Romantic Asheville...
 "The Spa is more than 43,000 sq. ft. in size, 20,000 of which are amenities for you to enjoy before and after your treatment."
I wanted so much to enjoy this pool.  Looks amazing!
Our view from the Sunset Terrace.  If you want to see what I had to eat click here.  It was yummy:-)

I did hear that the Inn was haunted.  Here is blurb I found from a website....North Carolina Ghosts
"The Pink Lady is the Grove Park Inn's resident and much-loved phantom. This kindly spirit has been seen and felt in the halls of the Inn for nearly a hundred years. She is said to be the spirit of a young woman who fell to her death from a balcony on the fifth floor of the Inn in the 1920s. She is usually seen in the form of a pink mist, or sometimes as a full-fledged apparition of a young woman in a pink ball gown."
I was looking for her but I did not see her.
Beautiful hotel.  I would love to visit and stay in the hotel.  Maybe next time.
If you find yourself in Asheville I suggest you visit the Grove Park Inn.  Enjoy the spa and the restaurant and if you can stay a night or two.
Get out and travel.
Enjoy Your World

Friday, June 26, 2015

Exploring My Local World...Beaver Queen Pageant 2015

Beaver Queen Pageant 2015 

I have lived in the area for over 20 years and had never heard of the Beaver Queen Pageant.  Now that I am exploring local events and venues in Durham and the surrounding area I thought I should check this out.  So off Cindy and I went for a new experience.  Here is the description from a local website....

"The Beaver Queen Pageant is an annual Durham event, now in its 11th year, and a local favorite. It's a beauty pageant where the contestants dress in elaborate beaver-themed costumes, bribing judges is expected (with the proceeds going to the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association), and where you can find food trucks and other family fun." 
"The event is always free but bring some cash to vote for your favorite contestant or bribe a judge. No voter ID required , and vote as often as you like. All proceeds go to benefit the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association."
Their theme this year was Beavers do Bollywood. Here are a few photos from the event....
Started off having free drinks made by these very nice guys.

I had the Mystic & Mango

"Unique and interesting" 
 "Psychedelic Colors"
She had a beautiful voice.  I love the beaver hat on Dr. Teeth.

Mz. Polly Nator
I do believe she won.
"Family Friendly"

We had a good time at the event.  
I guess if I had to describe it in two words it would be "free spirited".
If you decide to go next year be sure and take plenty of water.  It was extremely hot that day.  
They do have food trucks where you can buy food and drink.
Thanks Beaver people for supporting clean water in our area.
Get out and explore. 
I suggest you try an area event or festival.  Get to know your neighborhood.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Restaurant Review....Carolina 1663

Last week was Restaurant Week.  An opportunity to try different restaurants and foods at an affordable price.  I couldn't wait to check out the restaurants that were participating this year.  Cindy and I decided to try 
Carolina 1663 in Chapel Hill NC.
Here is a quote from their website...
"Carolina 1663, a top-rated restaurant near Franklin St. Chapel Hill, offers sophisticated Southern food made exclusively with local produce, fresh seafood and locally raised meat and poultry. In order to provide our diners with the freshest ingredients available, our menu changes seasonally.This means will your meal taste great and that you're likely to find great new treats whenever you dine with us. From our Creole-influenced shrimp and grits with kielbasa and bacon to our house-made sweet potato cheesecake, Carolina 1663 specializes in serving an authentic and healthy Southern culinary experience with a contemporary flair that makes dining in Chapel Hill an experience you won't want to miss. Located within the Sheraton Chapel Hill, Carolina 1663 is a Southern delight and a leading Chapel Hill restaurant."
We arrived early and went to the bar for a glass of wine. Lively setting.  Lots of people.  It felt like a place where regulars gathered for an afterwork drink.  
After enjoying our drink we went to our table and studied the menu...
....and of course ordered another glass of wine:-)
The Starters
Cindy ordered the Fried Pickles
she said "fried pickles were tasty with just the right spices"
I have to agree with her assessment.  And I will add tangy:-)

I had the Strawberry and Arugula Salad.
"The bacon pecan brittle was delicious"

If you look around the dinning room you will see signs. These signs display dates and events that occurred on those dates....
I had the Shrimp and Grits.
"Shrimp were tender, grits smooth and the sauce yummy with just a hint of heat."
Cindy decided to try the 6oz Filet
"Steak was very tender"

Cindy had the Sweet Tea Pie
She said  "I didn't really taste like tea, but very good.  More like sugar custard pie"
When I tasted it I too struggled to find the sweet tea flavor.  Whatever it is called it was very good.  You know me and custard, I love it:-)
I decided to try the Sweet Potato Cheesecake.
It was not served the traditional way.  It worked though.  The ice cream was a nice touch.

We did notice this nice outdoor area.  This would be a lovely place to enjoy a nice meal on a cool summer evening.  (It will not be this week thought.  It has been 100 degrees here in NC, oppressive heat)
Another nice restaurant experience.  If you find yourself in Chapel Hill I suggest you give them a try.
Get out and try a new restaurant.
Happy eating!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Exploring the Triangle..."Gregoria's Cuban Steakhouse"

This week is Restaurant Week.  An opportunity to try different restaurants and foods at an affordable price.  I couldn't wait to check out the restaurants that were participating this year.  Erica and I decided to try Gregorias's Cuban Steakhouse in Durham.  Here is a quote from their website....
"At Gregoria’s Steakhouse, we bring you the diverse flavors of Cuban food using traditional recipes made with the freshest ingredients. Whether you’re enjoying a Rum PiƱa and appetizers after work or celebrating with friends and family, our colorful and lively atmosphere will make you feel right at home."
We order our drinks and studied the menu...
 Yummy drinks!
 Erica ordered the Cuban Sandwich Sticks.
 A savory sandwich on a stick.
 I ordered the Colombian Empanadas with Sweet Corn Parmesan Sauce
We both loved this dish.  It was creamy and delicious.
Both of the starters of the evening were something I would order again.

Now for the Entree.
I had the Roast Pork with Sweet Plantains.
It was savory with a hint of sweetness.
Erica ordered the Chicken Imperial.
The Chicken was moist and tasty. 
We choose two desserts to try.
The Homemade Flan and the Tres Leches.
Both were delightful.
My favorite was the Flan, probably because I love custard:-) 

What a nice time we had at Gregoria's Cuban Steakhouse.  Food was scrumptious and the people friendly.  I look forward to going back.  You don't have to wait till the next Restaurant week to give them a try.  I think they are open today:-)
Get out and try a new restaurant.
Happy eating.