BEFORE THE ARCHITECT – BACKGROUND
TRAVEL AND LEISURE
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Here are a few choice words allegedly attributed to the Autocad Granddad
Here, you'll experience succinct, unvarnished truths of travel and entertainment personally experienced. The good, the bad, the ugly, the uglier, and the ugliest.
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CHRISTMAS 2003 IN ASHEVILLE, NC.
Drove up from North Georgia to Asheville, NC on Christmas Eve. Arrived mid-afternoon. Stayed through Saturday noon, and drove back.
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Bigger than remembered from a visit a couple years back.
Tortuous street patterns.
Surprising number of earth-crunchy people and places.
Seemed like a whole bunch of homeless guys - peaceful, but all over the place.
Remarkable frequency of empty storefronts.
Wonderful home design, on the mend.
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It is noted respectfully and by waiving shreds of humanity's whole cloth that travel at the heart of Christmastime is not may not include generally-expected and generally-accepted service levels and choices - particularly in food choices and hotel service levels. That written, it is the humble opinion of the AG that a) give up on the prices or get the gears from the AG, and b) cream rises.
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THE BILTMORE REVIEW
There's a lot of dream home designer detail to take in at Asheville, NC. Just drive the residential streets either near to the Biltmore Estate or afar. Marvelous, particularly after long stints in the home design wasteland that is North Georgia.
Of course, the Biltmore Estate's the main attraction and the AG's and Mrs. AG's attraction to it is mainly in fit and finish. Neither has an affinity for steel structure, and at its spine, that's about all there is holding up anything thereabouts outside the stable's L2.
As for the Biltmore itself, some home design points stuck out prominently this trip:
|A casing the likes of which was not recalled in one prior trip, but will be long remembered around both windows and doors in the social areas.|
|A nose and cove of smallish dimensions trimming virtually every casing perimeter in the home.|
|Bad use of natural home light - either not enough even in community areas or too much right in your eyes from overhead. (Next time, bring a flashlight to see what's going on most of the time.)|
|A generally competent, amiable staff not as well-prepared as expected for serious home designers' interests, inquiries, and witness to areas of individual expertise. (For example, a DC throw switch is not exactly like a modern-day electrical distribution electrical distribution panel board, no home designer prints are available to the public, etc.)|
|Almost exclusively, radius outside corners even in servants' quarters.|
|Surprising variation in baseboard and base moulds; however, all were in wood and none in, say, marble.|
THE HOTEL - DOUBLETREE REVIEW
The AG and The Missus stayed at the DoubleTree in Asheville, right close to the Biltmore entrance, and touted by some as the second best hotel in the neighborhood next to the crowded Grove Park Inn.
Good cookies. Almost completely botched invoice - wrong address, wrong room rate, wrong extra charges. Full charge on Christmas day for admittedly substandard room service. No hot water Saturday morning prior to our departure. Cigarette smoke smell thick in the halls and in one pillow in the room. No extra blankets. Almost too-small-to-use bathroom. Bathtub floor strips all but worn out. Quick elevator. Very comfortable beds.
Summary: Would not ever go back to the DoubleTree in Asheville. Not even if dragged by wild horses. Recommend it to you enemies. Stay at a bed & breakfast.
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Three dinners taken - one each at John Henry's, Gabrielle's at Richmond Hill Inn, and Bistro 96.
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Summary. The AG is confident he could have prepared anything at the table as well or better. Overall, better than Bistro96 (see below). Might eat there again, to see if they can better their mark.
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Gabrielle's at Richmond Hill Inn Review. Among the finest dining experiences ever for both AG and The Missus. The live piano music was a good start to a swell evening. The AG learned about "Amise Bouche" - knew the translation but not the application, and came within two deep breaths from buying a $150+ bottle of recommended port wine. From liver pâté and shrimp through finest soup or bisque to killer main dishes of fish, foul, or beef to a dreamy chocolate ganache, service was excellent and better than excellent. The AG openly cried over a couple of the early courses, they were that good. Mrs. AG is not overly fond of beef and always offers to share; she nearly inhaled her serving, and hunkered over it to make clear to one and all that no offer to share would be forthcoming this stopover.
Summary: It is the AG's firm belief that at least once in every person's life a meal should be as well prepared and beautifully served and so thoroughly enjoyed. Can hardly wait the time until we can dine there again.
Suggestions to Management: a) Pour a slightly stiffer adult beverage order; b) procure either Bacardi Limon Rum or Stoli Orange Vodka or both, because the AG'll be back, he won't be bringing his own, he thinks that'd bring you up another notch.
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Bistro 1896 Review. Not especially convenient parking. Interiors were small, dinner quirky, feel kind of funky. Pleasant, attentive service. Good drinks, best of the three on this trip. The AG's appetizer was a wholesome, albeit mystery-saucy and overspiced confection of fish and goat cheese, his bass entree a bit dry with good mashed potatoes even counting the two lumps, and the fudgish desert was tasty. Mrs. AG's main-course seafood pasta was light on the seafood and heavy on the tasty rice. Her chocolate and cream crepe was best of dinner.
The menu is not for those prone to kidney stones - seemed like half the recipes included either nuts or spinach - both way up in the oxalic acid charts, and overall was fairly short on milk products (an allegedly effective counteractive to oxalic acid ingestion by which the AG swears) .
Summary: Could have made anything at the table as well or better (except for that pot of fire appetizer which in the AG's opinion would be a way to dissolve interests and intentions at self-immolation). Liked the rice pasta, but don't care much for pasta in most menus. Unlikely to return.
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Other eating experiences. Breakfasts were taken in the room mostly. Lunches were ok and one was exceptional at a deli inside 1 Page Ave . . . Mrs. AG allows that the corned beef in her Reuben sandwich was the best she'd ever tasted (she being not keen at all about salt). There may be a hundred small cafés and other eating lairs in Asheville. They all looked ok from the outside.
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Shopping is so amazingly varied in kind, quality, and price that you'd better go there, and see for yourselves.
The Biltmore. Overpriced and of generally slightly lower quality than the last trip a few years back.
Antiques. Either sky-high priced or flee-marketish. There's a warehouse low-down by the tracks nearby the Richmond Hill Inn that proved a somewhat fruitful hunting grounds.
Little shops. Everywhere. From hand-beaded necklaces to doggie clothes and accessories.
Morning Star Galleries Review. This is one place that worked out great for good stuff well presented. The AG and Mrs. AG particularly enjoyed shopping in this store. Got a really beautiful pair of earrings. Might still order a wonderful, period lamp. Details: 1 Page Ave, Suite 143, Asheville, NC 28801. Ph.828-350-8585; e-mail Mrnngstrg@aol.com, Jim Reaves, excellent salesman.
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