Written by Ann Howley, Inn Manager
It seems that almost everyone I tell about my summer job managing the Asbury Park Inn shares their own dreams of operating a bed and breakfast. “I’ve always wanted to do that,” they admit. “What’s it really like?,” they ask, all ears. “I’ll bet it’s super fun.” Yes, it sure is! If you enjoy the simple pleasures of cooking, homemaking, and hosting events, this is the perfect job for you.
First, there are a few things I should let you know: I don’t live at the Inn, and I don’t work seven days a week like the owners, Kate and Joe. My duties do not include shopping for groceries or household items or calling the handyman when an occasional minor repair needs to be made. I don’t determine price points, set up the website, or pay the bills. But the “non-business” side of running a B&B has a great many perks. This summer, I was allowed the privilege of sampling the variety of tasks a typical Innkeeper must do on a daily basis to keep this business thriving.
First, of course, is the booking and keeping a current calendar of suites and their respective guests. That’s easy enough, but we also like to personalize our guests’ visits, which means allowing dogs in certain suites, offering vegan and gluten-free menus, and knowing our returning guests’ preferences, for example, who prefers tea to morning coffee, which guests likes to eat breakfast on the front porch instead of the dining room, and who enjoys dry white wine at cocktail hour rather than IPA. Like iced coffee rather than a hot cup of joe on a hot summer morning? Mention it on Monday and there’s a good chance a pitcher of cold brew will be waiting for you Tuesday morning. An Innkeeper must keep a keen eye on all his or her guests’ immediate needs.
Designing the breakfast menu is what most of us think about when running an Inn. It’s probably the most fun part, especially for those of us who’ve always dreamed of cooking professionally. (Remember chef Suki from The Gilmore Girls, happily dreaming and planning away?) It’s your chance to shine! One of the aspects I love about our kitchen at the Asbury Park Inn is Kate’s ties with local farmers’ markets and her own insistence on garden produce and fresh, local meats. Kate grows almost all of the necessary herbs in her kitchen garden, and friends and family supply many of the vegetables like zucchini, peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Menu creation becomes, then, a combination of tradition (the usual fare – savory eggs, bacon, sausage and sweet baked goods) with the ingenuity of using what’s in-season and on-hand (for example, incorporating local sweet corn or fresh zucchini into our breakfast dishes). That simple recipe makes for a mouth-watering array of delicious offerings, like whole-grain avocado toast with fried eggs and red pepper oil or corn fritters with crispy bacon, tomatoes, and avocado “smash.” Strawberry cream biscuits, flaky scones, and Belgian waffles top the charts as popular sweet items during the summer, and peach and berry breakfast cobbler with honeyed yogurt is an over-the-top treat that delights the eye and nose as much as the palate. Portion sizes are generous, and butter and creme are never spared; an Innkeeper wants her guests leaving their tables full and plenty satisfied.
Your typical day during the busy season? You’ll be rising about two hours before you serve your first breakfast. Of course, last night, after you cleared and washed the cocktail hour plates and glasses, you set yourself up for success by taking the sausages and pre-baked goods out of the freezer to thaw and by preparing anything that needs a head start in the morning, like roasting sweet potatoes for the hash. First, you’ll make the coffee. You’ll be making it in an oversized, old-fashioned percolator that uses three and a half cups of grounds, and you might still make a few more pots of French-pressed later on. The Asbury Park Roastery’s Indonesian Blend perfumes the air for the next half hour or so as you move on to your next task, breakfast prep. Sausages and bacon are slid into the oven, vegetables are chopped, and biscuits are made from scratch, working cold chunks of butter into flour by hand. Fruit is sliced and placed into cobbler bowls, waiting to be topped by biscuit dough, then placed carefully in the oven. Pancakes or waffles will soon sizzle from pans, and eggs, cut with a generous dose of cream and butter, will be whipped into scrambles, poured into frittatas, poached with precision, or fried over easy. Scones or muffins are warmed in the oven as maple syrup bubbles merrily on top of the stove.
You’ll serve breakfast with a smile, knowing your guests truly appreciate your efforts in the kitchen. One of the greatest rewards of owning a B&B is getting to know your guests, and breakfast presents a perfect time to do just that, chatting about everything from the weather to their adventures in town the previous night. This is an excellent time to recommend restaurants, entertainment venues, where to find the best shopping, and any special events in the area.
There’s a rhythm to the day. Breakfast is followed by cleaning a Mount Everest of dishes, then checking out departing guests and cleaning their rooms. Each suite might take an hour to an hour and a half to turn over, as every inch of the room is cleaned spotless, linens are replaced, and amenities are replenished.
Next, you’ll plan upcoming breakfasts and cocktail hours. You’ll need to check supplies to determine whether anything is needed and place your orders for the necessary items. Occasionally you’ll run to the store, but these days, having a grocery website that delivers is a lifesaver. Whenever you have time, that is, between all that must be attended to immediately (think broken air conditioners on a 95-degree day, replacing light bulbs before your guests arrive, or watering the basil currently wilting in the summer sun), you’ll bake a batch of scones or zucchini bread, roast nuts and concoct homemade granola, whip up a lavender-infused simple syrup for drinks later, research a vegan muffin recipe for upcoming guests, type up tomorrow’s menus, call the caterer to coordinate next weekend’s wedding reception, water the plants inside and out, and get all that laundry washed, folded, and put neatly away.
Now it’s time for correspondence, bookkeeping, and social media promotion. You’ll be returning phone calls and emails, double-checking bookings to make sure there is no overlap, and posting that killer picture you took of this morning’s plum streusel cake on Instagram with an eye-catching caption.
Your new guests will be arriving soon, so it’s time to make sure the rooms have the necessary items, such as cold bottled water in each refrigerator and tomorrow’s breakfast menus close at hand. Remember to add those extra touches, fresh flowers in the dining room, a cupcake for a birthday girl, champagne if your guests might be celebrating a special anniversary. Did you remember to set up the sofa bed? Room three has two children staying tonight. Make sure your guests know the security code to get inside later tonight and don’t let them forget the menus – it will be hard to plan for breakfast if you’re not sure what your guests will want to eat.
Once your guests arrive and unpack, you’ll invite them to relax and entice them to feel even more at home than in their own respective abodes. What better way than with a social hour with cold drinks and snacks? Cocktail hour is truly fun to plan and a can be another stage on which to showcase your creativity. You can go simple, set out some wine, beer, and soda with cheese and crackers, or you can dazzle your guests with your own version of the perfect margarita or homemade lemonade with unique flavor combinations like strawberries and mint. Many afternoons will be spent concocting sweet minis, like shortcake bites or chocolate chunk cookies with sea salt, or powering up the food processor to make garden fresh salsa, tangy guacamole, or a creamy garlic hummus. Those of you who enjoy wine pairing will get to live dangerously, selecting the optimal chardonnay to bring out the flavor notes of the triple creme you so carefully selected at the cheese shop. Of course, you’ll have to try some yourself, first!
Your signature will be everywhere, from the linens you choose to the books lining the walls to the candles you light on a stormy afternoon. Your guests want to feel pampered and relaxed, and it’s your job to provide the comforts of home in ultimate fashion.
On occasional weekends, we hold special events, and these are a pleasure to plan and execute. An Innkeeper must be organized and keep solid records of every request. Each event is unique, and it’s your duty as the event organizer to help your guests bring to fruition their own version of a sublime rehearsal dinner, wedding reception, anniversary weekend, or post-wedding breakfast buffet. You’ll be coordinating your efforts with caterers, florists, bakers, and even food truck purveyors, as we did for a recent wedding reception. You never know whether you’ll be setting up tables and linens, arranging flowers, serving Bloody Marys, or popping champagne corks. I’ve helped plan a surprise post-wedding treat for a bride and groom, arranged in-house massages for couples, poured mimosas for bridal parties, and named signature cocktails for birthday girls. Flexibility, a heartfelt desire to make someone else’s day, and an eye on consistent, quality service are key. Every day, I ask myself, what kind of experience would I want were I to stay here? What kinds of memories would I want to savor in the years to come? And most importantly, what will our guests say about us when they tell their friends about their stay? I want them to rave about the wonderful time they spent in Asbury Park, the Inn a part of that magic. The greatest compliment our guests can ever pay us is to walk back through our doors again to try and recapture it all.
Still interested in running your own B&B? I confess wholeheartedly that this has been the most fun and interesting summer job I’ve ever had. I’m incredibly grateful to Kate and Joe, the Innkeepers, for taking a chance on me as a member of their team and letting me live my dream this summer. I’m putting a lifetime of skills to to work, and I’m learning a lot about what it really takes to run a B&B successfully. It’s not always glamorous, especially when you’re scrubbing toilets, cleaning baby bottles, or setting up extra tables in the courtyard on a sultry August afternoon, but the rest of the experience will make up for that. You’ll meet super-cool, charming people who’ve chosen to spend their vacation days in the relaxing retreat that you’ve created. In all honesty, the absolute best part is in coaxing those happy, inner children out. Riding high on the serenity you’ve created, the stressed-out executive and the harried parent metamorphosize into lighthearted, relaxed souls at peace with the world and themselves. Summer and the sun do that, yes, but there’s something about having someone else take care of the details that washes the stress of the world away like the tides that flow from the beach. For me, being a part of the family here has been one of the most satisfying experiences of my life. Like our guests, I, too, will be walking out the door content and refreshed, ready to take on what’s next.
So… do you know of any Inns for sale? 😉
Summer is full of sensory pleasures. The sun warms our skin, breezes arrive freshly-scented, and nothing beats hearing peals of playful laughter as we all take life a little less seriously. One of the greatest delights of the Jersey Shore is easy accessibility to fresh produce. Our own gardens and those of our generous friends yield bell peppers, pickles, kale, heirloom tomatoes, squash, and a profusion of peppermint, basil, and other savory herbs. With an abundance of farms in the area as well, the Asbury Park Inn delights in whisking local seasonal products into our menu.
Several farm and craft markets converge on Asbury each week. On Saturdays, you can get your fresh fix early from 8-11 a.m. at the Asbury Park Sunset Farmer’s Market on Main Street. Recently, we surveyed the scene, sun ripe stone fruit and heirloom tomatoes nestling amongst ears of sweet corn and striped watermelon, bourgeois zucchini yielding to their more exotic cousins, patty pan and ghost scallop squash. Potatoes, waxy and crisp, strutted their feathers in deep shades of yellow, red, and purple, and at at least one stand, curious visitors discovered herbs and vegetables so unique they will never find their way to supermarket shelves. There’s always something new and unusual to enjoy.
The biggest farm market in the area is Asbury Fresh, recognized by the Asbury Park Press as one of the “Best of Monmouth County.” Open Fridays and Sundays, it is New Jersey’s fastest-growing farm and makers’ market. Asbury Fresh hosts over 60 farmers and merchants, including local artisans and food purveyors. On a recent Sunday afternoon, we found the market burgeoning with organic produce, locally-raised meats and eggs, handmade clothing and jewelry, pickled vegetables, scrumptious baked goods, colorful floral arrangements, and even special treats for Fido. We selected some tasty organic sausage featuring pasture-raised pork from Green Duchess Farm, several Robson’s Farm’s succulent yellow peaches, and a jar of balsamic fig jam from Holly Jolly Jams that is, according to the label, made with love. (And we’re pretty sure we can taste it!)
A friend once remarked that she thought the folks to our north built factories there as a barricade so those from metropolitan areas would get the wrong impression and not venture into central Jersey, leaving this glorious bounty for the locals to enjoy. But all that we have here – the sandy beaches, the restaurant scene, the shopping, and yes, trees and farms and gardens and wide open spaces, well, it’s all too resplendent not to share!
So please, join us for the just-picked flavors of summer – we’ve built our menu on its tasty bounty. Even better, grab a canvas bag yourself and plan a visit to one of these incredible markets. You’ll return home with some delicious mementos of your stay here, plus memories of the sweetest taste of our beautiful and bountiful belle, the Jersey Shore.
Asbury Park Inn is proud to introduce the newest member of our family. Although it’s not another adorable baby (seven-month-old Lucy keeps mom and dad pretty busy these days!), one of the reasons we’ve decided to grow is to allow mom and dad more time to spend with our giggly, raspberry-blowing bundle of joy.
Meet Ann, our new manager. A go-getter at heart, she’s well-qualified to handle any request and ready to help make your stay as comfortable as possible with the same high standards we’ve always held dear. She’ll greet you at the door, guide you to our various amenities, serve you breakfast, create a festive cocktail hour in the afternoon, and attend to anything else that will make you feel at home.
We first met Ann two summers ago when she was managing a standup paddle board outfit a few blocks away. A newcomer to the Jersey Shore, Ann has since made Asbury Park and the surrounding area her home. “It’s incredibly vibrant,” she says, comparing it to her former home in the Finger Lakes near Ithaca, New York. “There’s something here for everyone, the beach of course, but also eclectic shopping, the funky music scene. And it’s truly a foodie’s paradise, second to none outside New York City.” Ann’s enthusiasm for “all things Jersey Shore” is one of the reasons we enjoy having her around; she’s tried the best the area has to offer and can make excellent recommendations. Most of all, though, her expertise in hospitality and public relations plus her her culinary and travel experiences make her uniquely qualified to help run the Inn.
“It’s my dream job, really,” admits Ann. “So many of my life experiences can be incorporated here – my service work as a teacher, running my own home as a mom, my love of cooking and gardening, my years as a blogger… plus, I love meeting new people and being of service,” she says. “Running the Inn is like managing my own home the way I’d do it if I were always entertaining. The best part is working to make each guest’s experience unique and memorable in some way,” she says, smiling. “The Inn is a beautiful place to work, and Kate and Joe have made me feel right at home.”
One of the aspects Ann enjoys most is the unexpected nature of each day. “I might begin my day serving breakfast, then set up carts for our guests to take to the beach, work in the gardens, or take pictures of Kate’s amazing culinary creations to showcase on our social media. Last week I arranged flowers for a wedding rehearsal dinner and served mimosas to the bridal party. Every day is different and each weekend has its own flavor depending on our guests; we might be simultaneously hosting a family reunion weekend at the beach and another couple’s romantic getaway. I truly enjoy being able to help our guests find the magic here in Asbury Park.”
We invite you to come meet Ann and let her pour you a cup of morning joe out on the front porch. Kate, Joe, baby Lucy, and Winnie the dog are all still here to greet you. Now, there’s even more to enjoy at the Asbury Park Inn!
We all think of Bed and Breakfasts as relaxing places to vacation, but a great advantage of our service is a distinctive, personal touch. Asbury Park Inn is no exception. In fact, we relish helping our guests celebrate special events with unique services you’ll rarely find anywhere else.
We’ve proudly hosted weddings, rehearsal dinners, bachelorette parties, anniversaries, and birthdays, both grand affairs and others more intimate. A recent guest celebrated his hard-earned attainment of an advanced degree. Whatever your special occasion, we love taking care of the details. Whether you need extra seating in the courtyard to accompany your entourage or would like to gift your special someone a professional massage in your room, we can make it happen. Champagne and strawberries? Maybe a seasonal bouquet delivery or sweets from one of our superior Asbury Park bakeries? Food truck catering for your friends and family? That’s actually happening here in a few weeks, and we can’t wait! We’re hoping to see our first flashmob engagement right here – will it be you and yours?
The best part of being an Innkeeper is getting to know our wonderful guests and the unique ways we can serve each and every one. So when you’re planning what you hope will be your next “day to remember,” let your imagination run wild. Then, let us do the legwork.
Cheers to celebrating good times! How can we help you make it a memory to last a lifetime?
There’s a certain tranquility to waking up to the bright seaside warmth in the summer months. Lazy conversation spills across the front porch interspersed with sips of rich coffee, mostly about the day’s lackadaisical plans. The boardwalk hums with possibilities – a stroll along Asbury Park’s historic Convention Hall? A visit to the locally-owned clothing and craft shops, perhaps? Or maybe you can’t resist the siren call of the colorful beach umbrellas staked in the sand. Why not all three? Wherever your vacation days take you in Asbury Park, you won’t leave the Inn hungry.
Our breakfast menu changes seasonally, with farm fresh ingredients always in the spotlight. To begin your morning, we offer fresh-baked blueberry muffins or a thick slice of banana bread with butter. Our hearty fare this summer has included several savory options, a tomato, mozzarella, and basil quiche and a chorizo scramble with tomatoes and avocado among them, as well as traditional egg options. The hickory-smoked bacon and sage breakfast sausage are sourced fresh from a local Jersey farm and are among our most popular side options. Of course, no summer breakfast would be complete without fluffy blueberry or chocolate chip pancakes or a thick Belgian waffle laden with warm maple syrup. Looking to lighten things up? We offer a mixed green side salad with our house vinaigrette. Or try the Greek yogurt and berry compote paired with our own homemade granola teeming with almonds, oats and dried fruit. We also offer a range of options for our vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free guests. Just ask!
By far, one of our guests’ favorites this summer has been our summer berry breakfast cobbler with cornmeal biscuits, a dessert-for-breakfast kind of indulgence. Although we’d love to describe that decadent deliciousness here, our friend Sarah at ImaginariYUM has shared her experience at the Inn and her love of this warm, fruity breakfast here: Summer Berry Breakfast Cobbler Recipe from ImaginariYUM. The recipe is included, so feel free to try your hand. Or better yet, come visit and let Innkeeper Kate make you something just as scrumptious. Then, enjoy the day taking in the beach or boardwalk, the sights and sounds of Asbury Park, or just relaxing in the cozy quiet of the Inn. Summer doesn’t get much better than this!
The holidays in Asbury Park are lots of fun – there is so much going on here between now and the end of the year! Below are a few notable events…
And to help you get in the holiday spirit, Asbury Park Inn is offering a $50 gift card to some awesome local shops and restaurants when you stay with us for two consecutive nights before December 27, 2016 (excluding Thanksgiving). Call 732-740-4650 to inquire!
Asbury Park Bazaar – http://www.asburyparkbazaar.com/
Every Saturday & Sunday from November 28 through December 20 there will be a pop-up holiday market in the Grand Arcade in Convention Hall. The bazaar is the perfect place to do your Christmas shopping while sipping on glühwein and listening to live music. A great way to support local shops, vendors and artists!
Downtown Tree Lighting, December 5
Kick off the holiday season under a 25-foot Christmas Tree in Press Plaza (Cookman Avenue at Emory Street) on Saturday, December 5. The event will feature carolers from Alphabets Preschool, members of the New Jersey National Guard, photos with Santa and cookies and hot cocoa for all!
A Christmas Carol – http://houseofindependents.com/christmascarol
Original musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic ‘A Christmas Carol,’ written entirely by local New Jersey artists. Showing December 16 through December 20 at the new House of Independents theater on Cookman Avenue. Tickets are $20.
Not to mention all of Asbury’s fabulous restaurants and shops! Come for the shopping, stay for drinks/dinner and book a suite at Asbury Park Inn so that you can do it all again the next day!
We signed up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) box share this year through Honeybrook Organic Farm in Pennington & Chesterfield, NJ (http://www.honeybrookorganicfarm.com/).
We love the idea of supporting a New Jersey farm and incorporating local, organic, super-fresh produce into our breakfast menu. We’re thrilled with it!
This week we received the most abundant box so far. We got chard, beets, summer squash, cucumber, onions, parsley, cantaloupe and more (picture below… look at the size of that beet!). Our minds have been racing with all of things we can make with the bounty each week. Here are some of the ideas that we came up with recently…
Cucumber & Mint Cocktail
Handful of fresh mint (reserve some pretty springs for garnish)
2 medium cucumbers
2 lemons or limes (or one of each)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup vodka
Bottle of club soda or tonic
- First make the mint simple syrup. Bring water, sugar and the handful of fresh mint to a boil in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat and let it infuse for 20 minutes. Remove the mint.
- Meanwhile, peel the cucumbers, slice in half (long ways) and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Roughly cut them into chunks and puree to a liquid in a food processor or blender. Pass the liquid through a sieve to get rid of any remaining seeds or peel.
- Combine the cucumber puree and cooled mint simple syrup in a pitcher and squeeze in the juice of the lemons/limes
- Add the vodka, stir and chill for at least an hour
- Serve over ice, leaving plenty of room to top up the cocktail with tonic or club soda (depending on your taste!)
- Lastly, garnish with some mint sprigs to make it look lovely 🙂
Loaf of crusty bread or a baguette
2 radishes, sliced very thin (ideally with a mandolin)
8oz cream cheese
1/4 cup of chopped herbs (use whatever you have on hand… I used parsley, chives, dill, thyme and rosemary)
3 garlic cloves, smashed
Salt & pepper
- Cut the bread into slices (about a 1/2 inch thick) and toast them on a sheet pan in the oven for about 5 minutes or until they start to feel a bit firm
- Once toasted, rub the smashed garlic cloves all over the bread to add some great flavor
- Spread each piece of bread generously with cream cheese and sprinkle the chopped herbs all over. Season with salt & pepper.
- Top each slice with an thin, even layer of radishes and press down a bit so that everything sticks
- Sprinkle a bit more chopped herbs on top and serve!
Over the past few weeks we’ve used our farm goodies to bake zucchini bread and whip up blueberry pancakes for guests. We’ve incorporated the amazing farm fresh eggs that we get from Puglisi Egg Farm (in Howell, NJ) to make chard & kale frittatas. And we’ve served perfectly ripe cantaloupe rolled up in prosciutto during our cocktail hour! It’s been a lot of fun experimenting with produce that we normally wouldn’t think to buy at the market.
Can’t wait to see what comes next week!
We are excited that Asbury Park Inn will be featured on the 20th Annual Asbury Park Home Tour on Sunday, June 14.
10 homes will be featured on this year’s tour, including a unit in the Vive (a well-known condo complex near the beach), two B&Bs (including us), gorgeous old Victorian homes and other impressive architecture for which Asbury Park is known.
Check out the commercial for the tour on APTV:
The event is sponsored by the Asbury Park Homeowner’s Association and 100% of the proceeds go towards a scholarship fund for college-bound Asbury Park High School students!
Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 on the day of the event and can be purchased at Asbury Park Roastery, The Showroom Cinema, America’s Cup Coffeehouse, here at Asbury Park Inn and online…
Hope to see you here!
Kate & Joe, Innkeepers
We had the honor of hosting an amazing wedding weekend here at the inn. We were thrilled to be a small part of this couple’s special day… and to get to know them and their friends and family!
Janet & Sonia contacted us in January – initially to have a simple ceremony and dinner at the inn, but their wedding day evolved into all kinds of fun for them and their guests.
It started with breakfast here at the inn and then a portion of the guests moved to the Ocean Spa Suite with Janet for an afternoon of relaxation. We brought in masseuses Kristin Shaw (ayatanamassage.com) and Umberto from Tao Massage (taomassage.com) for individual treatments. Gloss Salon also sent over a lovely manicurist for the afternoon (glosslooks.com). Janet provided some mood music and the afternoon was topped off with lunch and mimosas!
Sonia and her pals took a different route – a scotch tasting! It was the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon. The facilitator, Karen, paired each scotch with a snack so that the tasters could fully appreciate the flavors… and decide what to drink for the rest of the day!
And there were more activities! The couple had a jigsaw puzzle made for guests to assemble (it was a collage of pictures of Janet & Sonia through the years). Also, guests created a bucket list for the couple – everyone was asked to take a Polaroid of themselves and write something that Janet and Sonia must do at some point in their lives (i.e. ‘visit Paris in the Spring,’ ‘climb Machu Picchu,’ etc.). Such great ideas!
The crew eventually took a break from the fun to get ready for the ceremony and dinner. This gave Janet & Sonia the opportunity to get their hair and makeup done and take some beautiful photos at Asbury’s iconic casino and boardwalk.
There were some Indian traditions incorporated into the marriage ceremony (to honor Sonia’s heritage). The couple was adorned in flower garlands, walked around a lit candle and then passed the flame to their guests (who were all holding taper candles). They recited touching vows and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house!
Cocktail hour then commenced with BBQ pulled pork sliders, Asian meatballs and signature cocktails Old Fashioneds and Dark & Stormys. Dinner included a seasonal salad, braised veal and garlic mash, crispy Asian salmon and spicy noodles and more! And after some beautiful toasts by friends and family members, Sonia’s favorite combination was served for dessert – homemade chocolate peanut butter layer cake!
Everyone moved to the courtyard for a fire and s’mores… the weather didn’t quite cooperate, but they rounded out the night with cigars and after-dinner drinks on the porch. It was truly a memorable day.
And they weren’t done yet! The group gathered once more on Sunday morning for bagels, lox and a make-your-own Bloody Mary bar! They rehashed the wedding weekend and said their goodbyes after snapping a few final pictures. Guests departed with a lovely homemade favor – a pot of jam, made by Janet.
Janet and Sonia then jetted off to the Caribbean – a well-deserved getaway!
Here are some other local vendors that the couple used to make their weekend perfect!
Hair – Stephani Schwartz, 732-272-2926, firstname.lastname@example.org
Makeup – Hello Pretty Makeup by Sara Konvitz, 732-221-1206, SaraKMakeup@gmail.com
Flowers – Sunset Florist, 732-988-7455
Photographer – Girl Photography, girlphotography.info
Rehearsal dinner – Cross & Orange, crossandorangeap.com
Gourmet s’mores & treats – Vintage Sweets, email@example.com
Scotch tasting – Karen Consiglio, 732-277-7884
All around awesome bakery in Asbury Park – Confections of a Rockstar, coarock.com
The innkeepers took a break from the Northeast cold and snow and spent last week in Napa and San Fransisco, CA. It was amazing! Overwhelming! Inspiring! There was just so much to try and so little time… we came home equipped with all sorts of new knowledge about food and wine and some ideas to try for the inn.
Bouchon Bakery is a gorgeous spot for bread and pastries in Yountville, CA. While we don’t have their fabulous kitchen (or world famous bakers!) this spot inspired us to bake some of our own bread to serve with breakfast here at the inn.
This recipe for French Bread with Beer – shared by our guest and new friend Kathy – was a great way to start. And bread baking on a cold, snowy day was a lovely way to take my mind off of the 65 degree temperatures that we left behind in sunny CA! The finished product is beautiful and tastes like a dense, flavorful baguette… perfect to eat with a beef stew or with a smear of herb-y soft cheese.
French Bread with Beer
1 1/2 cups beer or ale (I used Pabst Blue Ribbon)
1 tbsp dry yeast
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp light oil (I used canola oil)
2 tsp salt
2 cups unbleached white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour or stone-ground cornmeal (I used a combination)
Heat the beer until it’s warm (not hot), pour into a large mixing bowl, add the honey and yeast, stir and let sit until the yeast is dissolved and bubbling (about 30 minutes).
Add the maple syrup, oil, salt and white flour and beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Gradually add about 2 cups of the whole wheat flour (simply hand mix at this point, with a heavy wooden spoon) or as much as it takes to make the dough pull away from the sides of the bowl and form a blob.
Plop the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic. Sprinkle on more whole wheat flour if it is too sticky.
Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat on all sides and cover and let rise until dough has doubled in bulk (I waited over an hour).
Punch the dough down and press out any air bubbles, plop it again onto a lightly floured surface and cut it in half. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
Butter a large baking sheet and dust with cornmeal. Use a rolling pin to roll each half into a rectangle-ish shape (I continued sprinkling flour on the counter, dough & rolling pin throughout this process). With your fingers, roll up each rectangle along the long axis to create something like a tight jelly roll. Pinch the ends of the rolls and tuck them under a bit. Transfer the rolls onto the prepared baking sheet, seam side down. Make several diagonal slashes along the top of each roll with a sharp knife. Brush the tops with melted butter, cover with the kitchen towel and let them rise until almost doubled (I put the pan in a warm spot, which seemed to help!).
While you wait, preheat the oven to 450 degrees, fill a spray bottle with clean cold water and have a large cup of water handy (near the oven). Just before you put the loaves in the oven, spray them a bit with water and splash some water onto the floor of the oven (to create a cloud of steam). Pop the pan in and quickly close the door.
Repeat the splashing/steam cloud creation again after 5 minutes and then a third time after 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 375 degrees and bake for 15 more minutes or until the bottom of the loaves sound hollow when tapped (total baking time approximately 25 minutes).
Cool on a rack and try a slice with some salted butter as soon as they are cool enough to handle!
Happy Bread Baking!
Kate & Joe