Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Biltmore Estate

May 2nd Breakfast at Pinecrest B & B was at 9:00 every morning.  The first morning we were served  baked grapefruit, banana bread, blueberry waffles, orange juice and hot tea.   We brought our own Harney & Sons loose-leaf tea sachets.

With full tummies we were ready to tour the public rooms of the  gigantic 250-room Biltmore Mansion, that formally opened in 1895.  It is situated on 8,ooo acres of land, and remains America's largest  home to this day.   Unfortunately no photography was allowed inside.  It is a self-guided tour with audio headsets available [for a fee], and guides are positioned throughout the house to answer any additional questions.

Main Entrance 

Can you imagine a 33 year old bachelor rumbling around in this huge mansion?    George Vanderbilt III  married three years later and brought his bride, Edith Stuyvesant Dresser, to the estate.   Their one and only daughter, Cornelia,  was born two years later.  [Bet she had fun playing hide-and-seek!] 

The former stable and carriage house [restaurant and gift shop now] is through the arch below.

A Biltmore photographer took this picture of our group inside the mansion with the indoor Winter Garden in the background.  L-R:  Linda, Angela, Phyllis [me], Lynn and Sandy.

There were tea vignettes throughout the mansion, so the Vanderbilts were definitely tea drinkers.

After the house tour we went to the Carriage House gift shop to do some damage to our pocketbooks!   Below are  the "treasures" I bought: A pictorial Biltmore guide book, a Biltmore cookbook, a CD of Biltmore's Music Box Guest Favorites, and a re-pro trio [cup, saucer and dessert plate] of the Vanderbilt Tea Service circa 1888.

From the gift shop we went to the Stable Cafe [where dining tables fill former horse stalls]  for a quick, light lunch.  Then we hurried back to the main house for a 2:30 p.m. behind-the-scenes Butler's Tour.  It was very interesting, and we were  grateful to a tea friend who recommended it to us.

This is the back of the mansion, and the only photo we were allowed to take while on the Butler's Tour.

It was a tight schedule because following the Butler's Tour we had 4:30 p.m. reservations for Afternoon Tea at the Biltmore Inn.  If you look closely in the photo below you can faintly see the Estate House from the grounds of the Biltmore Inn.  [I marked the photo to help spot it.]

This is the back side of the Biltmore Inn where the library is located, and where Afternoon Tea is served.

Inside view of the library and dining area.

We ordered the full Afternoon Tea which included an assortment of finger sandwiches, scones, fruit bread, tea pastries and pots of Mighty Leaf Tea.   It was $22.95 per person plus tax and gratuity.

Mighty Leaf tea chest for making our selection.   I opted for a fruit tisane so I could sleep that night.

Odai was our server...

And photographer!  ;-)
L-R:  Sandy, Linda, Lynn [from Asheville], Angela, Phyllis [me] and Lynn [from KY]

Reproduction Vanderbilt China  - Beautiful!

Savories/Sandwiches [Clockwise from 12:00 o'clock]:  Cucumber with homemade cream cheese [from the dairy on the estate]; Egg salad garnished with radish [a sprig of fresh dill must have fallen off the top my radish];  Sun-dried tomato cheese with smoked bacon garnished with cherry tomato slices and watercress;  Focaccia bread with sun-dried tomatoes, black beans and mushroom spread, garnished with a dollop of sour cream and slice of green onion; and a cranberry/apple chicken salad croissant.  A mini spinach quiche was in the center of the plate.

Three-tiered server laden with tea-time treats!   Bottom plate:  Orange-ginger scones.   Middle plate:  Lemon-blueberry tea bread.  Top plate:  Yellow cake with butterceam frosting and chopped pistachios; Cream puffs filled with strawberry cream; and Chocolate caramel truffles.    Whew!  It's a good thing we did two tours  of the Biltmore Mansion to help walk off some of those calories!

We packed A LOT into that day, but there was one more event to celebrate before we went to bed -  Angela's upcoming birthday, which was two days after she returned to her home in Georgia.   After consuming mega sweets, we passed on a birthday cake, but we did have a few gifts to give our kindred-spirit tea and blogger friend!  Praying  the year ahead  holds many blessings, and, of course, lots of tea, Angela!

To be continued...


  1. It was wonderful to spend time with all of you that afternoon at Biltmore. Thank you for including me. It was a real treat.

  2. This is now officially on my 'to do' list! Everything looks fabulous, and it certainly looks like everyone had a great time!

  3. Thanks so much for the kind words, birthday wishes and lovely (and useful!) gifts, Phyllis! Truly, my best birthday gift this year was getting to spend time with you tea friends in Asheville!

    And I'm so glad you did such a great job of noting the menus we enjoyed ... you have really filled in some gaps for me! (BTW, I tried to leave this comment at least five times last night from home! That computer must not by working right or something, because this time I had no problem!)

  4. Hooray! Several years later, and I can cross Afternoon Tea at the Inn at Biltmore off of my 'to do' list! Done! and Enjoyed!


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