Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Nick's Notes 4.17.2015--North Carolina Local

North Carolina Local

Owning Abbington Green Bed and Breakfast Inn in Asheville, NC has already taught me a lot of valuable things in life. I'm meeting wonderful people from all over the world as they come to enjoy the beauty of Asheville and all that NC has to offer a visitor. It's my personal expectation that Abbington Green also offers History, Style and Romance with a connection to North Carolina as well.

History:
It begins with the history of our home, designed by Architect Richard Sharp Smith, who was one of the Architects at Biltmore Estate. I love sharing the history of this house with its two main owners, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Peyton. This house is known as the Jackson-Peyton House on the National Historic Register of Historic Places since 1978.
Style:
Decorating Abbington Green has been fun. We've added our personal things with things we have found at one of the many local antique stores in Asheville. Some recent additions are the stained glass windows and game chest in the living room containing games for guests to enjoy.
We've also partnered with 10 local Asheville, NC Artists and they have transformed our second floor hallways to showcase and sell their work.  Guests enjoy, looking at the pottery, ceramics, paintings, mosaics, and furniture. Many have then gone to the galleries in the River Arts District to make their purchases.

Romance:
Guests continue to comment on how much they enjoy our bath products in our rooms. Our lip balm, bath salts, shampoo, conditioner and lotion are all made locally in North Carolina.

Our Social Hour at 5 PM each evening continue to feature local NC cheeses and meats. Additionally, we serve hot appetizers I make daily, and red and white wine.
Breakfast is what I enjoy the most. We use as much local and organic products as possible in our breakfasts. From apples that we get from a local orchard in Hendersonville, NC, cured meats, Ivy's Homemade Jams, to the organic produce, eggs and dairy products. The details of our breakfasts are important to me as part of the NC experience.
I have a lot of "Pride" in North Carolina and recently added the NC Flag to the front of our home. I truly want our guests to explore Asheville, the Blue Ridge Mountains, amazing local restaurants, and the local NC things...............and in the evening return to Abbington Green to experience a little more of North Carolina History, Style, and Romance.

All the best, Nick.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Nick's Notes 4.3.2015--A Tale of Two Easters

A Tale of Two Easters!


Growing up we always celebrated only the Eastern Orthodox Easter which can vary in the date some years from the Western Christian Easter. I remember as a kid being able to buy all the Easter Candy on SALE after the Christian Easter for our Easter Baskets. This year Orthodox Easter is 1 week after Christian Easter. I thought I would explain a little bit this week about why there is a difference and what some of the Greek Traditions we will be doing at Abbington Green for the next two Sundays to celebrate both Easters....which I now celebrate.

The formula for Easter-"The first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox" is the same for both Western and Orthodox Easters, but churches base the dates on different calendars. Western Churches use the Gregorian Calendar and Orthodox Churches use the older Julian Calendar. The two churches vary on the definition of the vernal equinox and the full moon. The Eastern Church sets the date of Easter according to the actual, astronomical full moon and the actual equinox as observed along the meridian of Jerusalem, site of the Crucifixion and resurrection. The Eastern Orthodox Church also applies the formula so that Easter always falls after Passover, since the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ took place after he entered Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. In the Western Church, Easter sometimes precedes Passover by weeks. 


Either way..............now I celebrate both and still enjoy some of the Greek traditions such as Cracking Eggs and a wonderful Leg of Lamb with Orzo Pasta for dinner. What we are planning to do at Easter Breakfast on Sunday, April 5th and Sunday, April 12th is Crack Eggs together before breakfast begins at 9 AM. The rules: The game is called Tsougrisma in Greek and it involves two players at a time and hard boiled decorated Easter Eggs. Each player holds an egg, and one taps the end of her/his egg lightly against the end of the other player's egg. The goal is to crack the opponent's egg. This continues until one player successfully cracks the eggs of all the other players is declared the winner and is said, will have good luck during the year. Once your egg is cracked you can then crack the backside of the egg with other players that also have one side cracked already to see who will win with the backside of the egg. It should be a fun time here and from all of us at Abbington Green...........Happy Easter and Happy Passover!



All the Best, Nick

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Nick's Notes 3.27.2015--I Love My Job!

Love My Job!

Do you love your job? I can honestly say "I Do!" I thought this week I would share with you the whys behind my love for being an Innkeeper.

I had a wonderful 35 year retail career, but always knew one day I would own a Bed and Breakfast. As I mentioned a few weeks ago in Nick's Notes, this was my dream..........We had a 15 year plan which has now allowed me to live my dream. The sign that hangs outside the front door, "What I love most about my Home is Who I Share it With," talks about the beauty of Abbington Green and the amazing history of our home. But that is not what I love about my job.....those things are different.

I want to share my top 3 things with you..............Why I love my Job! It's hard because there are so many things I love. I take my job as Innkeeper very serious. I actually get choked up when I read the amazing reviews guests have wrote about me and Abbington Green on Trip Advisor. (If you have not read the reviews, please take a look) I value and appreciate what each guest writes. Thank you for taking the time to write them.

The first thing I love most about my job are the amazing people I have met. I love spending time with guests and hearing about their stories, their families, their travel, and so on. I always believe people come into each others lives for a reason. As an Innkeeper it has allowed me to meet so many people. I love the connections I am making. One guest has actually been back 3 times and planning her 4th trip here. That means the world to me............that guests have a wonderful time at Abbington Green and want to return.

The second thing I love about my job is the team I work with. It starts with Steve my partner in life and in the business. 
Nick and Steve
As for the rest of the team we've not been together long, but I know how much they care about the success of Abbington Green. I can see the pride they have in the work they do. We still have a lot to learn, but I feel that Bradshaw, Michelle, Greg, Dennis and now Tina all have the commitment level necessary to grow our business. 
Michelle, Bradshaw and Tina
Greg and Dennis
They all understand our guests are the most important thing and we want them to feel special while they're here. Even Lady Amber Abbington, our dog, loves to spend time with guests when she is allowed.
Lady Amber Abbington
The third thing I love about my job is entertaining guests and preparing breakfast. From setting up for Social Hour at 5 PM everyday to breakfast at 9 AM each morning.....preparing delicious foods is important to me. I love making sure the garnish is perfect and the table is set beautifully with crystal and china differently each day. What can I say.....I like to entertain guests in our home. Before moving to Asheville we were always having friends over for dinners and parties. I just like doing it and get happy knowing that others are happy and
enjoying themselves in our home. 
Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn
I also have to mention one more thing.............I love the fact that each day is different and you never know what tomorrow may bring. I would love for more of you to come check out Abbington Green and become part of something that is very special to me.
All the Best, Nick

Monday, March 9, 2015

Nick's Notes 3.9.2015--The Little Engine that Could

The Little Engine that Could



Nick’s Notes began years ago in my retail career as a way to connect with my employees in all the stores I supervised.  Every Monday, the stores received a copy of Nick’s Notes in an email to print and hang in their backrooms for all employees to read. It was an opportunity for me to share personal learning’s, and reiterate focuses we needed to have to drive results.  As an Innkeeper Nick’s Notes has taken on a new form of a way to reach out to guests. 

Today I wanted to share a little more about me and what I am about.  I am a big over achiever and it started at a very young age.  One of my favorite books as a child was, “The Little Engine that Could.” 

You might find it interesting to know I still have my original book from when I was little.  I use to have my mom read it over and over to me before I could read, and then read it over and over myself when I started reading.  I still probably read it once a year as a reminder that I can do what I set my mind to do, as long as I have a positive mindset, and the will/skill to make it happen.   I’m not sure what drew me to the book when I was young.  Was it the fascination of the little blue engine, the idea that the boys and girls on the other side of the hill needed toys to play with, or the simple fact that even back then I was starting to understand you have to work hard and have the right mindset to get great  results.  Either way it taught me a lot of important lessons in life. 

My dad was a great example of a strong work ethic, my mom pushed us to study and learn to be the best we can be, and I will continue reading the Little Engine that Could each year as a reminder…………My favorite part of the book is when the little blue engine makes it over the hill and proudly says….”I thought I could, I thought I could.”  I know how great it feels when you accomplish something you set out to do.

That’s the feeling I get from being an Innkeeper at Abbington Green Bed and Breakfast Inn.  We work hard here and have so much pride in what we do.  Our team is small, and we are still learning and growing in our roles.  We know the most important thing is our customer’s satisfaction and we make sure their vacation time is as perfect as it can be.  --Nick

Friday, February 27, 2015

Nick's Notes 2.27.2015 - Growing Up Greek


Growing Up Greek

With our upcoming Cooking Class Series each Saturday in March at Abbington Green, I thought I would write today about where my passion for cooking began. (check out details on our cooking class series -

If you've seen the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," then you can visualize how I grew up. Yes, I do have 5 other 1st cousins named Nick Poulos.......the beauty of it is, we were all named after a wonderful man.......my grandfather. My grandparents all came through Ellis Island and eventually settled in the Cleveland, Ohio area. I'm second generation Greek, but went to Greek school to learn the language and upheld all the Greek traditions.
As far back as I could remember, my mom was all about entertaining and preparing delicious appetizers (mezethes as they are called in Greek), and food for friends and family that came to visit. No one ever left our house hungry, and the minute you walked in, the feast began. It's tradition and Greek hospitality to treat your guest this way. I use to watch my two sisters and mom prepare foods in the kitchen and being the youngest, I wanted to join in and help. Little by little, I did.......and I really enjoyed it.


Eventually I started making Saturday morning breakfast for my family. I would get up early on Saturday and watch Scooby Doo and then start making breakfast. We would all sit together at the kitchen table having breakfast and then start our day. I never really prepared anything fancy like I do now. Breakfast usually consisted of Sausage or Bacon, Eggs or Pancakes and Toast. It felt good to make breakfast for my family.
As I moved out on my own, and had a wonderful retail career, I would cook to relax. My Partner Steve always said, one of his favorite things in Florida was our Sunday morning breakfasts I would make us. Just like I did with my family 40 years ago, we sat at our kitchen table and ate breakfast together. Our home in Florida was a perfect house for entertaining and we always had different gatherings, dinners and parties at our home. We were known for Christmas and New Years Eve Dinners.
For me it was all about setting the perfect table and cooking a wonderful dinner.
Working for Williams-Sonoma taught me how the right Cook's Tools and Cookware can really make a difference. It's amazing when the knife is sharp and the pan heats evenly, how easy cooking can be. Mom didn't have those luxuries. She did everything the hard way, by hand with out all the fancy electrics to help. Yes, I do have a well equipped kitchen...........thanks to Williams-Sonoma.

Purchasing Abbington Green Bed and Breakfast Inn has allowed me to combine my passion for cooking and entertaining with my background in exceptional customer service. I am not a chef, as many of the Trip Advisor reviews are calling me. I am a home cook that loves to prepare wonderful breakfasts down to the detail of the perfect garnish.

At Abbington Green I prepare a two course breakfast starting with a fruit and bread course, followed by the main course. I use as much local NC and Organic ingredients as possible. We offer 6 juices and choices of various hot and cold beverages. Our specialties are the Orange Pecan
French Toast with NC Maple Sausage (which just got entered in a cooking contest), and our Organic Corn and Dill Souffle with Ham.........but
every day breakfast is different.
I love listening from the kitchen to the guests in the dining room talking and having a good time at breakfast. It brings back memories of how my family sat around our old kitchen table every Saturday morning having breakfast together.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

March Cooking Class Series

We are very excited to announce our upcoming Cooking Class Series here at Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn. Read on for more information about the classes and our participating chefs. We hope to see you soon!


Abbington Green March Cooking Class Series
 There is nothing better than cooking dinner with a group of friends and sitting down together to share a meal. In March at Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn, we are creating our first cooking class series.  Our classes provide a one-on-one, hands on cooking experience with a local chef, and the experience of sharing that meal in our beautiful dining room with the Chef and the other class participants. All classes take place in the kitchen at Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn, and include the preparation and the sharing of a 3-course dinner with the Chef in our dining room. The classes begin at 6pm, costs $150 per couple or $75 per single. Class size is limited. For more information and to reserve your place, please email us at info@abbingtongreen.com or call (828)251-2454

 
Saturday, March 7, 2015—Chef Janie Hicks, Chiesa

Italian Food for the Soul
Figs and Pancetta with Goat Cheese on fresh Rosemary Skewers
Spinach and Ricotta Cheese Ravioli with fire roasted Marinara Sauce
Lemon Panna Cotta with Berry Compote

 
Janie Hicks grew up in a small community near Boone, NC.  She started helping her mother cook at a very early age.  Her first job was in an outdoor kitchen with a wood cook stove and cooking over an open fire. She spent 2 years working for a small company hand making ravioli.  Her main passion is food.   She loves cooking and creating new dishes.  She is currently working at Chiesa a neighborhood Italian Restaurant on Montford Ave.  "I look forward to spending an evening cooking and creating a meal together with you!"  Janie is currently the Chef at Chiesa, located at 152 Montford Ave in Asheville, NC.

     

    
   







Saturday, March 14, 2015—Chef Steven Goff, King James Public House                            

North Carolina Heritage Cooking
Buttermilk Biscuits w/ hunk of Hoop Cheese, Butter, Jams, Country Ham and Pickles 
Roast Chicken with Dirty Rice and roasted Root Vegetables 
Chocolate Beignets with macerated Berries or Dulce de Leche
 
Steven Goff is a 20 year veteran of the hospitality industry who has worked in kitchens ranging from fast food to fine dining, as well as multiple front of the house positions. Steven writes, teaches, and consults about all things kitchen and hospitality! He currently owns and operates the King James Public House, a modern Appalachian public house, located at 94 Charlotte Street in Asheville, NC.

 
 

Saturday, March 21, 2015—Nick Poulos, Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn

Growing Up Greek
Spanakopita (Spinach Triangles)
Pastitsio-Baked Pasta with Meat and B├ęchamel topping
Galatoboureko
Nick Poulos, Owner of Abbington Green Bed and Breakfast Inn, grew up in Ohio and learned to cook from his mother and father at an early age.  “I remember anxiously waking up on Saturday mornings knowing that I was going to be cooking breakfast for my family.”  That’s where his love of cooking began, and after taking several cooking classes and working for Williams-Sonoma, as a Regional Vice President in the Southeast, his passion for cooking grew.  Nick is not a trained chef, but is an accomplished home cook.  He cooks a two course breakfast every morning for their guest at Abbington Green.  Check out the Trip Advisor Reviews on Abbington Green about Nick’s outstanding breakfasts.


 






 
Saturday, March 28, 2015—Chef Evan Garr, Executive Chef Ruth’s Chris Steak House

Low Country Cuisine

Herb cornmeal dusted Fried Green Tomatoes with Succotash
Low Country Crab and Shrimp with Grits
Classic Raisin and Cinnamon Bread Pudding dressed with a Sweet Cream

 Chef Evan Garr actually began his restaurant experience as a server before moving into the kitchen at the age of 20. He discovered that he enjoyed it so much that he wanted to make it a career. Then he applied to an apprenticeship program at The Homestead in Hot Springs, VA – the oldest resort in the nation.  After gaining his formal culinary training at The Homestead, Evan worked in a variety of jobs in Charleston and Charlotte - all with a diverse culinary theme. He has managed kitchens that cook dishes ranging from All-American, Lebanese, and classic French. He currently is the Chef at Ruth Chris, located at 26 All Souls Crescent, Asheville, NC.




The classes begin at 6pm, costs $150 per couple or $75 per single. Class size is limited. For more information and to reserve your place, please email us at info@abbingtongreen.com or call (828)251-2454







Friday, February 13, 2015

Nick's Notes 2.13.2015 - The House's Story


The House's Story


The past few weeks I've shared with you Amber's Story, and Our Story
about purchasing the Inn.............so this week I would like to share
with you the Story of Abbington Green.........a beautiful, historic home
in the Montford Historic District of Asheville, North Carolina. 
Montford is part of Downtown Asheville where all the unique shops and
excellent restaurants are located.

 
 
I love sharing the story of this home with guests when they walk into
Abbington Green for the first time.  There is so much history here and
it needs to be shared.............that's part of living in a century old
home.  The house was built in 1907 and designed by architect Richard
Sharp Smith.  He was one of the architects that worked on the Biltmore
Estate home.  The original blueprints have recently been discovered at
the Historic Archives and are now kept at the Asheville City Hall.  Once
Biltmore was finished, he was commissioned to build this home for Mr.
Jackson and his family.  At that time the Jacksons were known for their
Bakery and Cheese shop in the city.  They lived here about 15 years and
then sold the house to Mr. Wythe Peyton in 1921.

Mr. Peyton was the Post Master of Asheville and the Peytons raised
their four sons in this home. He later went on to begin the North
Carolina Highway system as a highway engineer.  He was a prominent
member of the Men's Garden Club of Asheville.    He was known for his
prize fruits and vegetables from the extensive gardens that were on the
property at the time.  I can only imagine how proud he is looking at how
the Gardens of Abbington Green are still abundant and beautiful.


 

Mr. Peyton passed away in 1956 and the family held the house until the
1960's.  The house is known as the Jackson-Peyton Home on the National
Historic Registry.  The home was then purchased by an architect and
eventually was divided up and became a boarding house.  Back in the 60's you would not want to live in Montford.  It was not safe, and both the house and neighborhood got run down.  Luckily, the neighborhood bounced back and now Montford is a safe and very desirable neighborhood to live in. All the beautiful historic homes have been renovated and it is fun to take a local walking tour of the area.  www.history-at-hand.com

Valerie Larrea purchased this home in February of 1993 with the
intention to turn it into a bed and breakfast.  Work began in May of
1993 and the first guests checked in on October 1st, 1993.  The property
was completely renovated in only 4 1/2 months with all new plumbing,
electrical, and beautiful Guest Rooms and Suites....................complete with Jacuzzi Tubs and showers in each bathroom.  So, Steve and I are only the second owners of Abbington Green since it has become a bed and breakfast. 
 
 We continue to make it our own home with personal touches and antiques.  We have big plans for the gardens this spring with fountains, flowers and even bringing back some of the fruit trees and vegetable garden Mr. Peyton once had on the property.   Guests will get to enjoy the fresh herbs and produce from the property along with other local North Carolina products.


So that's the story of how this amazing home became a Bed and Breakfast.

 We love our new home and look forward to new memories in our lives.
All the Best,  Nick