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Exploring Asheville | 100 Days: Drinks, Dishes & Destinations | KQED


– I’m standing here on a 535
million year old monolith. It’s called Chimney Rock. You can see on a clear
day 75 miles that way to Charlotte, North Carolina,
and right down there along the Hickory Nut Gorge
leads you to Asheville, that cultured and eclectic
North Carolina hub. 100 Days Drinks Dishes and Destinations is brought to you by – [Narrator] With Ama
Waterways, guests can climb, pedal, and journey beyond the beaten path while cruising on storied
rivers across Europe. You can find out more at AmaWaterways.com. – When I picture my dad,
Josh, I remember his hands. Strong, they were worn, stained, that was years of hard
work as a lumberjack. His commitment, work ethic, values, that’s what really inspired
me to create Josh Cellars. – [Narrator] Otherworldy
and down to earth. Visit Napa Valley. – [Leslie] Come with me to stamp
your passport to delicious. I’m drinks and culinary
expert Leslie Sbrocco, and I’m traveling, tasting,
sipping, and savoring the world to share my bucket list of
palate pleasing experiences on 100 Days Drinks
Dishes and Destinations. Part of the Appalachian mountain range, the Blue Ridge Mountains extend from Georgia to Pennsylvania. As the dense carpet of
trees release isoprene, a blue tint can be seen
when viewed at a distance, hence the name. I’m visiting western North Carolina and its largest city, Asheville, right in the heart of
the Blue Ridge range. A road trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway certainly won’t disappoint
with its meandering road and breathtaking vistas. But I’m set on an up close
and personal encounter the old-fashioned way, on foot. So with hiking the hills in mind, I’m gonna need some sustenance, which brings me to John Fleer’s The Rhu, Asheville’s cozy bakery and pantry for all things local and scrumptious. Hey John! – [John] Hey, how are you? – [Leslie] I’m good, how are you? You have three restaurants? – I have three restaurants. So Rhubarb was the first, and then The Rhu is about three years
old, and then last year opened Benne on Eagle. – Let’s see what I can order here. They have bacon and dessert, and bacon and cheese,
and dessert and bacon. What’s going on in terms
of the restaurant scene here in Asheville? I mean, I know the beer scene is crazy. – Some foundational restaurants opened in the early 2000s, and
then really since 2013 when Rhubarb opened, it’s been amazing. But I really think what drives that is our community of farmers. So are you ready to take
a look at your picnic? – I am! – See what we packed up for you? – [Leslie] I’m starving! This is called an oatmeal– – [John] Oatmeal creme pie. Is it okay? – Fantastic. Is that like a cream cheese in there? – It’s more along the
lines of a buttercream, because cream cheese isn’t fatty enough. – But it’s got a little tang. It’s got a nice little tang. – So we’ve got three local cheeses. Ridge Line from Looking
Glass, a cow’s milk cheese. The line of ash is supposed to represent the Appalachian ridge lines. Yellow Branch is probably
one of the oldest continuously made cheeses
in western North Carolina– – Is it cow’s milk cheese? – It’s a cow’s milk cheese, it’s a farm that started with just three cows. Boxcar Campo is a washed
rind cheese from Durham. This is a newer company but probably the best cheesemaker in North Carolina. – [Leslie] Oh, I can smell that from here. – [John] Aged Tennessee prosciutto. Really one of the finest things we have, almost a 22 month ham. – It has a density and a chewiness to it. And then there’s this really salty hit that comes in right there. – Yeah. One of our laminated baguettes, so this is a combination
of a baguette dough and a croissant dough, so
they’re blended together. – I’m gonna make a mess with it. – It’s gonna make a mess. – So there is that almost
croissant-y, look at that. – Definitely, definitely, yeah. Now that we have a napkin,
you can do anything you– – [Leslie} And there is
that crunch, look at that. So it does break almost like a croissant. – [John] It definitely
does, and this is probably only an hour and a half out of the oven. – I think that’s the best bread
I’ve ever eaten in my life. I can’t thank you enough, John. – Absolutely, well I hope
you all enjoy this picnic and take care. Happy hiking. – Setting out from the city,
go north, south, east, or west. It’s nature’s majesty in any direction. I find a spot to take in one of the many awe-inspiring waterfalls of the area. On a hot day like today,
these waters are refreshing. I’ll be sure to toe-test first. This fresh mountain spring
water can be very cold. Although some don’t seem to mind. Suitably refreshed, down
in the gap I’m eager for a birds-eye view. And Chimney Rock is
considered one of the most iconic outlook sites in North Carolina. As the unforgettable drive
ascends through the state park and comes to an end,
it’s back to the boots and some huffing and
puffing to reach the summit. This is, this is a mountain,
this is a big hill. Okay, up to the monolith. 500 plus stairs. Or, there’s an elevator. Behind me is a unique
piece of Chimney Rock. It’s a tunnel that goes to an elevator that opened in 1949 when the park was privately owned by the Morse family, and they just wanted
everyone to have access to the park and to its beauty. Hey, how are you? 258 feet in 32 seconds. Here’s a bit of trivia. Because this is such a picturesque area, Lake Lure behind me is where
Dirty Dancing was filmed, and right up there, the last few minutes of Last of the Mohicans. What a stunning park. – [Nick] Nice views, huh? – [Leslie] Part of the Appalachian Range? – [Nick] The foothills leading
into the Appalachian Range. – So you say Appa-latch-yan,
I say Appa-lay-shan, I’ve heard Appa-law-chan. – Well, the locals will say Appa-law-chan. The park is just over 6,000 acres. Chimney Rock is just a small part. – Okay, but that is, that’s a nice rock. – It’s a Henderson gneiss rock. A lot of people think it’s granite, but it’s actually gneiss,
spelled g-n-e-i-s-s. – Oh, okay. And it’s 535 million years old? – [Nick] Correct. Which is older than dinosaurs. – All right, I think I’m gonna have to go up and hike it now. This is one magnificent view. (folk music) So much beauty. My journey must continue, though. I feel like Maid Marian
looking for Robin Hood. I’ve never done any falconry. – Well that’s perfect, you
have no bad habits then. You’ll be the perfect one. All my birds are named for beer. So, Hoppy Boy–
– I love you. – There we go. Perfect. Oh, he just went uh-uh. – He’s playing with me now. With birds fresh on my mind, or arm, I tackle an age old question. Why did the ducks cross the road? Because they wanted to visit
the Biltmore, of course. Who wouldn’t? It took an entire community of craftsmen more than six years to
create the four acres of floor space, 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces, all
wrapped in a spectacular French Renaissance exterior crowned with statues, pediments, gargoyles, and two striking Italian rose marble lions checking me out on my
way in the front door. – So many people talk
about Biltmore as being an English lady in a French dress, because it has this
beautiful French facade, but the interiors are really based on an English country house. These are our hosts just behind us. George W. Vanderbilt, who
built the house in 1895, this is by John Singer Sargent, and his wife Edith, which is
by Giovanni Boldini in 1911. The library is my favorite
room in the house, but it’s 250 rooms, so
so many to choose from. And I think one of the
most amazing things is how much it really does feel like a home, how alive it feels. – I feel like I’m in the garden. – [Leslie K.] It’s a beautiful space, so this is the winter garden, built by the architect
Richard Morris Hunt. The statuary in the center
is one of the last things that was put into place
before he welcomed his guests here at Christmas of 1895. But at the time, he was a bachelor, and it was the place where
he was able to welcome his friends and family down. – [Leslie] Quite the bachelor pad. – And then he married in
1898 Edith Vanderbilt, and they had one daughter in 1900, and so she grew up in this space, she was married in this
space, and in fact, for her wedding in 1924,
there was this amazing wedding party and they were seated at a horseshoe table around this fountain in all of the glamorous
fashions of the day, and I can only imagine
what they had to eat. – And drink. – And drink. Frederick Law Olmstead who
was the landscape designer wanted you to feel like you were far away from the city, far away
from New York or Newport and in the southern, beautiful climate. That was really part of
the design of the place. Because the Biltmore’s always
been owned by the family, we have not only the original furnishings, we have the original textiles, we have all of their archives, we have all of their
receipts, it’s something that you can’t find for the Gilded Age. And everything’s intact. So we’re in the banquet hall of Biltmore and this is where George
and Edith Vanderbilt would have hosted all their dinners. We know from letters and
different archival documents that dinner was held here
every night at eight o’clock. Full dress, and so you
can just imagine this room sparkling with the silver and the crystal, the candles and the women’s jewelry, how beautiful it would have been. So the table itself is really special. It was designed by the architect and then these chairs custom
made to go with the table. So we have 64 chairs in total, but we don’t have a party
that size on record. – We could put one together. – We sure could. Let’s do that. When they had just a few
people, maybe friends or family visiting, maybe
just a guest or two, they pulled up a table
close to the fireplaces. And so that’s what we have set here, so you have a sense what
that would have looked like. Flemish tapestries,
more than 400 years old. – I’m looking up here,
we’re being watched. – We are, we have some guests in the room. Many of them, we’ve been
told, are world records. The size of them. So they’ve seen a lot
of dinners, overheard a lot of good conversations. – [Leslie] If the moose could talk. – [Leslie K.] If he could. – This scale of it is so magnificent. I do feel almost like I’m
in a Downton Abbey scene. – It feels very much like Downton Abbey, and you can imagine the
staff waiting on them but also making sure
every detail was perfect, which is really something that happened. We have letters about each footman and their gold garters and
their perfect wardrobe, and we have some of that
still in the archives today. – Just being in this room
makes me stand up straighter. – Definitely. – [Leslie] And then you come downstairs to the back of the house, the
kitchen, almost human, normal. – Very much so. You can imagine that the people working, and how much hustle and
bustle there would be, and everything that needed to get done, but everything’s on a
very efficient scale. So there’s a rotisserie kitchen
and then a pastry kitchen, and those would have been
separated by these thick walls. – And in terms of staff,
what would it have taken to run this house? – So in George’s time, it was
an estate of 125,000 acres, and so he employed farmers, foresters, people working all over the estate. But in terms of the house itself, it ran with a staff of around 30-35, which is incredible, they
were very well taken care of. They were paid New York wages,
which wasn’t really happening in much of western North Carolina, education was promoted, it was a place with a lot of opportunities. And this is the butler’s
pantry at Biltmore. – [Leslie] Oh! – [Leslie K.] So our butlers were British. Food would have been sent
up from the kitchens, through the dumbwaiters. And even in 1895, the
house was electrified with refrigerators, warming stoves, everything to keep every course at just the right temperature
until it was time for serving. At the end of the night,
when the beautiful Baccarat crystal needed to be washed, we have these soft soapstone sinks and a beautiful view out the window. – Now I mean, if you have to wash dishes, you might as well be looking at that. – We still have people who show up with little bits of history. So in 2000, a woman
came who was a relative of a woman named Esther Anderson
who worked here in 1904, and this is a listing of
their menus for 14 weeks. – [Leslie] October 1st,
so they would have eaten ham omelet, fricasseed
chicken, sweet potatoes, lamb salad, sago pudding,
cream, broiled blue fish, small filets of beef. – [Leslie K.] Potatoes, spinach. – [Leslie] Salad, dessert. – [Leslie K.] Most of the
luncheons are five to six courses. Most of the dinners are seven courses. We have a few eight
course dinners in here. – [Leslie] And at that time, like today, things are grown here on the estate? – [Leslie K.] Exactly. – [Leslie] Everything
would have come from here. – Not everything. We have shipping receipts
for 30 Smithfield hams, for instance, but most of the things, even fine vegetables,
you know they had gardens that would grow things
at different temperatures because of the way that they were walled, we had greenhouses, so most everything was coming off the
estate, down to the milk. And they really had success in that, and that is what has really continued on to our farm programming today, these same ideas that the
Vanderbilts had in the 1890s. – [Leslie] This place is a true treasure. A national treasure. – George Vanderbilt wanted to be an innovator in agriculture,
and that’s still our goal here today, we
want to be practicing the most modern and advanced technologies that agriculture has to offer, deliver our product in the most efficient, sustainable way, we want
our guests to experience the full circle, to sit in our restaurants and look out the windows and see the forage and grass being
grown that feed our cattle and our employees that raise our cattle. – [Leslie] What you
call it, field to table? – Yeah, farm to table, field to fork, whatever you want to call
it, that’s what we are here. Our cattle have a wonderful life. They enjoy their grain and
grass diet and low-stress. Around 620 total head of beef cattle. So we try to do about 100 steers a year, they go to our restaurants. Our Dorper sheep are
a meat breed of sheep, and so we use them in our
field to table program as well. They’re self-shedding,
they don’t produce a wool, it’s a wool hair type fiber. – So you don’t have to shear these sheep? – You don’t have to shear
them, no, they’re a hair breed. – [Leslie] So these are just
like nature’s little lawnmower? – [Kyle] Exactly, that’s how they work. – [Leslie] They’re out trimming
the grass in the vineyards. – [Kyle] Absolutely, and it
costs us no gas to do it. – That one’s staying in the shade, which is what I would be doing. All right Kyle, that is one big pig. He’s a happy guy. – Just as happy as a pig in mud. The Berkshire breed is a heritage breed, it’s original to the
George Vanderbilt era. Berkshire hog is known
for its high quality, commonly referred to as the
Wagyu of the pork breeds. – [Leslie] Today, Vanderbilt is known for something else, wine. It was William Cecil, George’s grandson, who planted vines and worked to perfect wine production on the estate. It’s now the most visited
winery in North America. I caught up with winemaker Sharon Fenchak. – Now this is actually
our cabernet sauvignon, this is one of the varietals
that we have here on property. In a few weeks, they’ll
start to turn a little purple and produce sugars,
and then we’ll come out and we’ll actually sample the grapes and decide when to pick
based on that point. – Most red grapes will have
a clear flesh like this, and the color of the
wine comes from soaking with those skins during
the winemaking process. And Bordeaux varieties
like cabernet sauvignon, Merlot, cabernet franc, why do
they do well in this climate? – [Sharon] We are in the
mountains, so we have a really good differential of day
and night temperatures, which is important to ripening the grape and preserving the acidity of the fruits. – You make a sparkling
wine here that’s delicious. – Thank you. – I’m a bubbles fan. – Thank you so much. – Everything’s better with bubbles. And when I discovered your sparkling wine, the Reserve from North Carolina, I went, “This is brilliant.” – The sparkling that we do
from this particular vineyard comes from our chardonnay. You know, you’ll typically pick the grapes when they’re not ripe, like you would for normal still wine,
and then we actually go through a secondary
fermentation in the bottle, just like they would in Champagne, France. – [Leslie] Now this is my
favorite part of the day. – [Sharon] Mine, too. – We end at the wine bar and get to taste the fruits of your labor. – Cheers.
– Cheers. So this is 100 percent
North Carolina fruit? – All from the vineyard
that we saw earlier. So we’re very proud of this product. – That is an impressive wine. And now that I’ve tasted the wine, I can’t wait to taste the food. At the dining room at the
Inn on Biltmore Estate, where chef Sean Eckman
has prepared a plate. – Oh, look at this beautiful thing. – This is my interpretation of barbecue. Barbecue’s a very ambiguous term, it means many different things
to many different people in all parts of the country,
all parts of the world. In the western portion of
North Carolina, pork is king. One of my favorite portions
of the pig is the cheek, and they’re just meltingly tender, they’re absolutely fantastic. We borrowed a little bit from
Asian and Filipino barbecue and we borrowed some soy
sauce and some ginger, put it in here, also with the vinegar that we’re using from western North Carolina. – You really get that barbecue acidity, that western North Carolina barbecue. And that soy sauce kicks in, unlike any barbecue I’ve ever had. – We took our interpretation of cornbread, turned that into a ravioli,
and we have coleslaw in the form of crispy fried red cabbage, and then a very intense vinegar heavy, mayonnaise based dressing. – So you got the crispiness and there’s a, there’s a little crunchiness
of the coleslaw, right? – The cole slaw. – And do you think George and
Edith would have liked this? – I think they would have loved it. You know, George and Edith
loved to travel the world. So you know, they brought influences back from all over the world,
so having a little bit of a global influence on a
very recognizable approach to food I think just makes
absolute sense for being here. – So we’re honoring George
and Edith and their legacy. – Wonderful, sounds great. – Cheers. – Cheers. – [Leslie] But the legacy
of the Biltmore doesn’t end at the gates of the estate. Throughout western North Carolina, with Asheville as its hub,
arts, music, and culture thrive. And then there’s the food. Local, seasonal, and
sustainable is the mantra. While barbecue remains
king, here there are more breweries per capita than
any other city in the U.S. And you don’t have to walk. It’s covered. Hop aboard for an experiential journey. – All right, is everybody
ready to do this? All right. Come on. Here we go. (rock music) – Hi. – Cider, it’s closer to beer in maybe how you would consume it,
but wine in the process. This is gonna be our Dry Ridge, it’s a nice traditional dry cider. – It’s got this nice almost
Riesling like crispness. – We’ve got our Ginger Campaign, so it’s a champagne yeast,
fermented nice and dry, and then infused with some ginger. – This is explosively ginger. This is like taking one
of those ginger chews and chewing that. – [Jose] Our Blackberry Hopped. – This one to me has the
most apple-y character. – That’s really interesting. This is gonna be our Cidre Del Diablo. Vanilla and habanero
peppers with the seeds. – Oh, shhhh. – People won’t let us
take it off the menu. – If you love peppers, you will love that. – Yeah. – I’m on fire, like breathing fire. (rock music) (harmonica plays) – [Leslie] Everybody here
has an opinion about beer, and you guys were on the top of the list. – Well that’s flattering. All right, so this one, people
get really excited about, it’s called Unicorn Death Wish. Like a tart, German wheat beer. And we put 800 pounds of
rainbow sherbet into it. – Oh, yeah. You can taste rainbow sherbet. – [Gary] Right, pretty cool. – Again, not a sweet beer, it’s dry, and it’s got this nice tartness to it. – Totally. All right we’ve got Touch of Gray. So this is a mix culture grisette beer, so it’s kinda funky, kinda tart. – I like this one. – Thank you. – [Leslie] It is funky. – [Gary] Up next we’ve got
Special Magical Shirtless Power. – I call that tequila. – That is a hazy IPA brewed
with Nelson Sauvin hop hash. – That is hoppy. – [Gary] Right, really hoppy. – It is really hoppy. I would not have expected that
when I just picked that up. – And up next we have Neon Ghosts, which is another style of IPA, same style of IPA, just
different hop profile. And that is Mosaic and El Dorado. And that is probably our
number one seller right now. – Oh, now that is intense, this is the most complex of them, to me. – Totally. – This is a little
heavier, a little richer, definitely got more hoppy character to it. There’s this lovely
balance in all the styles of the beers that I tasted. – Well thank you, that means a lot. That’s definitely on purpose. ‘Cause concepts can be weird. – And there were some weird ones there. There was a couple, but that’s Asheville in a glass, isn’t it? – [Gary] Huge artistic community, it’s cool to be a part of it. – A hot spot for gourmet
beers and cider yes. There’s only one more stop. True down home western
North Carolina barbecue at 12 Bones, where I
meet owner Brian King. When I smell pork, I’m ready to pull. – Basically, we’re just
trying to get the real heavy, gristly bits off. – North Carolina western barbecue is pork. – That’s correct, western North Carolina is pork shoulder with
a tomato based sauce. Eastern is whole hog with
a more vinegar based sauce. – [Leslie] How big do
you want me to do this? – Not shredded, just pulled. You gotta test it and make sure
it’s okay for the customers. – That melts in your mouth. – It’s unbelievable. – It just dissolves. – So we’ve had a couple high profile visitors over the years. President Obama, and the first lady. They’ve had our food on
three occasions actually. We’re cooking anywhere between
24 and 48 butts a night. – I like big– – Butts and I cannot lie. – You got nice racks and sweet
butts, is that your motto? – [Brian] Tender butts and sweet racks. – [Leslie] It smells magnificent in here. – It absolutely does. These are our pork shoulder,
also called pork butts. We load the smoker with cherry wood and then the butts smoke for 13 hours, and so by the time we
come in in the morning, we’re able to pretty much put a spoon in and it’s spoon-tender. This is our brisket. We get a nice little crust on here. What we like to do now is just take the top part of the brisket and
separate it from the bottom, and the top cut of the
brisket is really delicious. I prefer a fattier cut. We also provide that lean cut, the bottom piece of the brisket. – That meat is so tender. You’re missing out by not being here. I had the brisket, I had
the pulled pork already, so now you got me the ribs. – Right, right, this is the
crowning achievement right here. Our signature sauce is
definitely our tomato and our blueberry Chipotle. The great thing about that is you know, it’s got that fruitiness to it, but there’s also a little bit of a kick. – First bite you get a hit of blueberry. – Yep. – And then it just sort of melts
into the flavor of the rib. – It was a tough sell in the early days. Next thing over is corn pudding. – Creamy. Pillow-like texture,
softness, and secretly one of my favorite things. I’m going in for the collard greens. – [Brian] That and the corn
pudding are my favorite sides. – Mm-mm-mm. You know what, you need that bitterness, you need that hint of
sweetness, the smokiness of the bacon, I need to wash it down. – There’s a couple brews around town. – [Leslie] And of course, 12 Bones Brewing has the news on brews. There’s just one more flight
before my flight home. – There’s something for everybody here. – All right, cheers. – I will cheers you, thank you. – Thanks, Scott. – You bet. – In Asheville, I have been surrounded by Mother Nature at her best. There’s such a laid back
kind of peaceful vibe here, but not in a slow way. Yes, there’s an energy and
a Bohemian sensibility, it just embodies the creative spirit. I went back in time at Biltmore
Estate to an elegant era, and then stepping downtown I feel like you know, it was stepping
forward into the future. I tell you, it’s easy in
Asheville to live well, to eat well, and of course, to drink well. 100 Days Drinks Dishes and
Destinations is brought to you by – [Narrator] With Ama
Waterways, guests can climb, pedal, and journey beyond the beaten path while cruising on storied
rivers across Europe. You can find out more at AmaWaterways.com. – When I picture my dad,
Josh, I remember his hands. Strong, they were worn, stained. That was years of hard
work as a lumberjack. His commitment, work ethic, values, that’s what really inspired
me to create Josh Cellars. – [Narrator] Otherworldly
and down to earth. Visit Napa Valley. – [Leslie] For more
information on all episodes along with our expanded digital series, including behind the
scenes footage and stories and links to follow me on
Facebook and Instagram, go to 100DaysDrinksDishesDestinations.com. I feel like I should dance through, I feel like I should glide. – So a fair amount of Veuve Cliquot passed through these lips. – Mine, too. Fair amount have gone right through here. Farm living is the life for me! – If you can’t get dirty
at a barbecue place, where can you? – That’s true. So I’m kinda thinking maybe guys, that you do like a pork lip gloss? Look at that. – All of the great wine keeps you looking young and vibrant for many years. – I’m 107, you’d never know. – You look amazing. (electronic chime) (fanfare)

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