'The Glow of Rest at Westglow'
Don't you just wish there was this place like "Brigadoon" rising high up over a mountain ridge, glistening white, perfect proportions, and welcoming? This Mecca would feed all the senses and seduce you into its ample bosom with scenery, rest, ambrosia, and tactile pleasure in the form of hands-on kneading of your entire body.
Afterward you would be gently released from this Mount Olympus fully cognizant of the fact that only a few of us mere mortals can be accepted by the gods into their paradise.
Well, my friends, look no further than the peaks around the village of Blowing Rock in our precious western North Carolina. Blowing Rock is a colony long known for its coddling of the southeast's elite. Charming streets, shops, and churches collaborate to bring that old-school feel.
About 3 miles south on U.S. 221 lies the glorious Westglow Resort & Spa. Westglow was once the summer retreat of writer and artist Elliott Daingerfield, one of America's premiere landscape painters at the beginning of the 20th century.
Features of his beloved Westglow and the surrounding plants and landscapes became part of his paintings, including "The Sisters" circa 1920 to 1924. I refer you to Westglow's excellent web site for more on this amazing art history. Westglow, of course, is known for that particular light phenomenon over the westward Blue Ridge at dusk.
Bonnie Schaefer, former co-CEO and co-Chairman of the Board of Claire's stores, has lovingly recreated this paradise into one of the best boutique spas in the world and a fabulous resort with extraordinary dining. Lately it was named to the prestigious Relais and Chateaux distinction of luxe, cuisine, and calm. Further, to read Bonnie's list of activism is astounding.
Westglow itself is decorated in the most elegant early 19th century southern antiques (my particular love) and neutral walls with superb moldings.
Earlier in the day, we treated ourselves to our annual spa fest next door: sauna, steam (with cucumber slices on our eyes), iced washcloths on our heads, a rumbling Jacuzzi, and then favorite magazines overlooking 50 miles out the 2-story windows of the "rest lounge."
Now the "pièce de la résistance" was the 90-minute ride to Heaven under the hands of Brian, my intuitive, intelligent, and nurturing massage therapist. Never forget that the mind can be unencumbered just as much as the body with the right person kneading your muscles.
So, after an invigorating shower in the well-appointed locker room, we went back to Gideon Ridge Inn for a nap that Van Winkle would have envied.
We later dressed up with our best item of adornment being the rested glow of the "Spa on the Mount". That evening at Rowland's Restaurant at Westglow, we were greeted by Gary Brown, sommelier, and ushered into a wonderful fireside bar for a tidy drink and munchies. A nice couple from Raleigh reconfirmed our view that the next generation of young parents and marrieds will do just fine.
So to our table we settled in to an array of specialty little salts in a series of snug vessels.
A fresh-faced young gentleman over to the side was busy making an EVOO and parmesan mixture with fresh minced herbs on top of a gorgeous silver tray resting on mahogany.
The amuse bouche was an exquisitely enigmatic elderberry sorbet with a dusting of powdered mint. My "bouche" was certainly amused.
The first course was a King Prawn with tomato, edamame, and a perfectly grilled baguette. The plates were piping hot and the 'acid' on the plate perfectly balanced the dish.
Gary Brown then brought us a Chateau Pesquie Terrasses. French, of course, and 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah. A little tannic at first, later tasting of chewy raisins with a hint of raspberries at the end. This paired with a tray of thin meats and local cheeses, a nice flourish from the house, due to a blogger on the premises.
We chose the grilled beef tenderloin for our main. Wow, superbly fired and nestled with a shitake goat cheese timbale, a little mound of 3-onion mashed potatoes and carefully halved Brussels sprouts. The pluperfect punctuation point was the pumpkin seed tuile, a deft touch.
As we sank back in our chairs with the ecstasy of the moment, Pandora's French Cafe began thumping from the corners. Just at the correct timing, out came Chocolate Earth Custard with a white chocolate crumble topped off with the quintessential double-decaf espresso with a little lemon peel curled cutely.
Totally satisfied, our coats were brought, pleasantries exchanged, and our chariot brought 'round with the mountain moon a cradling slip and the stars sending their myriad electromagnetic spectral signals. Mount Olympus indeed!
224 Westglow Circle, Blowing Rock, NC
Starters: $8 to $22
Entrees: $30 to $40
Dessert: $10 to $12