Grove Park Inn/Asheville, NC

There is a special holiday buffet offered at the Grove Park Inn each year from Thanksgiving through the first of January, which makes it the perfect time to gather up some friends and make the trek up the mountain. Host to several presidents, dignitaries and entertainers, (including a recent visit by our own Pesident Obama), this regal old stone hotel/golf course/spa is decked out with a reindeer- pulled-sleigh in one giant fireplace in the lobby where families are lined up for a photo op. The other has logs ablaze, faced with rocking chairs filled with guests soaking up the ambiance. Between them a giant tree glows floor to ceiling and the connecting hallways have a plethora of trees adorned in various styles; fishermen with rods criss crossing the trunk and fish dangling from their lines; another is all peacocks and feathers; while my favorite is wrapped in grape vine and tiny bottles of merlot, and pinot grigio hang from its limbs along with decorative corks and grape clusters. But nothing can compare with the rooms of food that make up the buffet. Salads, soups, cheese, smoked trout and salmon, boiled shrimp, melons, fruits, breads, hot foods including turkey and dressing, baked ham with apple butter, roasted pork loin, various vegetables perfectly cooked, desserts, and eggnog, (this year’s flavor is pumpkin spice) wait to be ladled onto plates. Today the food seems especially fresh and delicious. The egg nog is so frothy it is like liquid dessert. Although I miss the ice sculptures that normally adorn the tables, the food makes up for it. The service is impeccable, the staff seem delighted to be working. They move in and around like ghosts floating from the ceiling. The tastes and smells embody so many good memories, the view of the mountains and city of Asheville is clearly visible through the wall of windows in the dining room. Bon appetite! Come hungry!

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