Steeles Tavern Manor and Alpine Hideaway Cottages

8400 North Lee Hwy, Steeles Tavern, Virginia 24476
Innkeeper(s): Melissa & Ray Alexander

Heifetz Spring Hootenanny in Staunton VA 3-18-17 13 Feb 2017, 5:44 pm

When you hear the word “Hootenanny”, what do you think of? The dictionary defines it as “an informal gathering with folk music and sometimes dancing.” “Hootenanny” may not be what you associate with the Heifetz International Music Institute either! The Music school can be found on the campus of Mary Baldwin College and is well known as an innovative and cross-disciplinary school that teaches students to communicate the emotion of music – not just the technical expertise of music. So with that in mind, you can imagine the energy and emotion contained in an informal gathering of musicians enjoying some Celtic and folk music together.

On Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 7:00 pm Heifetz alums, Rachell Wong and Ben Fried will be joining Faculty member Carlos Avila and a special singer Angel Azzarra for the Heifetz Spring Hootenanny. Attend this musical experience and enjoy Celtic airs and reels and cabaret classics. The location for this event is The American Hotel in the wharf area of Staunton.

Rachell Wong recently completed her Master’s studies at the Jacobs School of Music of Indiana University in violin. She has won a number of International music awards and was a frequent performer in the “Stars of Tomorrow” during her time at the Heifetz Institute. Her talent includes the ability to “crossover” to folk and improvisational setting of the Hootenanny.

Cellist Ben Fried, is a winner of the 2014 Eastman Cello Concerto Competition and is studying in the Maters program at Mannes College of Music. He has performed on National Public Radio and on a public radio station in Chicago.

Faculty member Carlos Avila is one of the most in-demand pianists in the classical music world. This Julliard graduate has performed across North and South America, Europe, and Asia.

Angel Azzarra was born in Mississippi and has recently made her debut with the New York City Opera. Angel earned her Masters degree from the Manhattan School of Music as their only full scholarship voice major. Her interpretation of the informal music at the Hootenanny will delight attendees.

The venue for the Hootenanny, The American Hotel & Banquet Room, is an historic property built in 1855 by the Central Virginia Railroad Company. The building hosted a large number of dignitaries of the time. The Hotel was spared when Staunton was burned by Union troops 1864 perhaps because it was the officers’ quarters. When the building was renovated in 2003, the Grand Ball Room was rebuilt in the style of the 1850’s.

The performers and the location of the Heifetz Spring Hootenanny will make this a very special evening. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online. Make your reservations to stay with us and enjoy the Hootenany!

Recipe for real Southern Biscuits served at Virginia B&B 29 Jan 2017, 9:18 pm

I had never made southern buttermilk biscuits before. Northerners, (or Yankees) like myself, didn’t make biscuits very often. In the Pittsburgh area where I was born and raised, people made a variety of homemade breads. Growing up in an Italian household, we made homemade breads, cookies, and pasta. But we never made biscuits. Now that I have lived in Virginia for 5 years I thought it was time this Yankee learned to make some good ole Southern Buttermilk Biscuits.

Louise, one of our employees & right hand lady, volunteered to teach me biscuit making as she learned from her grandmother. Shirley, another employee and my other right hand lady, volunteered to assist so she could incorporate her knowledge of biscuit making too.

Louise started dumping flour into the bowl. I asked her how much and she replied “all about this much” pointing to the bowl. As Louise continued to add the ingredients, Shirley estimated the measurements and I jotted down the recipe. Louise kneaded & rolled out the dough. We made 2 batches, one made by a Southerner (Louise) and the other made by a Yankee (your innkeeper, Melissa). We brought in 2 “Taste Testers”, Ray (my husband and other innkeeper) and Lee, Ray’s right hand man. The Southerner’s biscuits got a “two thumbs up” rating, of course! There is nothing quite like “what grandma used to make”! And the Yankee got a rating of “not too bad for the first time” (as rated by the 2 Southern bakers and the Taste Testers). Since I (barely) passed the biscuit making class, Shirley will teach me to make another Southern dish, Fried Apples, at our next cooking class.

We had a great time laughing, “picking” at each other, and sharing childhood memories about helping our grandmothers and mothers in the kitchen. And we learned various baking tips from each other. The comment was they even learned something from a Yankee who had never made biscuits!




Louise’s Southern Biscuits

“All about this much flour” (4 cups self-rising flour)

½ tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1 handful scoop Crisco (1 cup)

½ cup (plus more) Buttermilk

Directions: Sift together flour, salt, & baking powder. Add handful of Crisco. Mix, working together to form the dough. Add ½ cup Buttermilk continuing to work the dough. Add buttermilk as needed, continuing to mix together. Dough should be dry and not sticky. Pat the dough out on a floured surface. Roll to even. Using a biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out pieces and place on greased baking pan. Bake 425 for 15-20 minutes or until tops are golden brown (or as Louise’s grandmother said “Tops should be a certain color of brown to be done in the middle). Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

This Southern specialty is best enjoyed while still warm from the oven and served with butter and jelly or jam. They are a great accompaniment with almost any food and can be used for small Virginia ham sandwiches. My Pittsburgh area Italian family may know how to make great pizzelles, but they can learn a thing or two about making great Southern Buttermilk Biscuits.

Stay with us at Steeles Tavern Manor B&B and you can be a taste tester of this southern specialty.

Your Innkeeper,   Melissa

Barren Ridge Vineyards presents Swedish Fire Festival 2017 19 Jan 2017, 7:04 pm

In the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, on January 28, 2017, experience a Swiss way of celebrating the winter. Barren Ridge Vineyards, located just 30 minutes from our B&B, will celebrate winter with the 2017 Swedish Fire Festival.

swedishff-2016-11x17-jpgThe special dinner and wine pairing begins with a cocktail hour in the fire-lit tasting room featuring Swiss Raclette cheese and wine from Barren Ridge Vineyards (of course). Swiss Raclette cheese is usually heated and then the melted cheese is scraped off the cheese wheel to enjoy with various vegetables such as potatoes or pickles.

The catered dinner is inspired by fine restaurants in Stockholm, Sweden but will feature Virginia ingredients. Chef Tracy Hiner will begin the meal with an array of salads including a fennel, spinach, & berry salad, a sweet potato salad with apples & toasted pecans, and a kale & citrus salad. Each salad is touched with a special dressing.

The main courses include game meat, chicken, and salmon. The game feature is a venison & wild boar goulash with roasted vegetables. The chicken is served with a wild mushroom ragu. The salmon will be poached to perfection – as only Chef Hiner can do. Side dishes of braised cabbage and puréed potatoes & leeks will compliment all the main dishes.

No meal is complete without dessert! The poached pear frangipane tart will satisfy that sweet spot. The almond flavor filling with the locally grown pears will be accompanied by coffee.

Each course will be paired with choice Barren Ridge wines and live Swedish music will provide the background entertainment. Music will be performed by classical guitarists, John Paul Gladwell and John B. Clark – two highly regarded musicians around the nation.

The evening heightens with the lighting of the Swedish fires – heralded by the playing of the alphorn! The best place to view the fires is from the patio, where mulled Red Barren wine will be served to keep you warm.

Reservations are required for this special evening of fine food, wine, wonderful music, and the fires around the vineyards. Cost is $95 per person for this gala evening that is scheduled from 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm. Reservations can be made by calling (540) 248-3300.

Hello Local! Meal Kits for Dinner 15 Jan 2017, 10:21 am

redhen1You are familiar with home delivery meal services that advertise fresh, portioned ingredients providing everything you need to prepare home-cooked meals.   We now have a meal service being offered to our cottage guests:  “Red Hen at Home” meal kits.  The Red Hen Restaurant is Lexington’s farm to table fine dining restaurant that sources from the bountiful Shenandoah Valley’s local meats, produce & products.  Now we are bringing Red Hen meals to your table. Chef Matt has created cook-at-home meal kits using his recipes that contain locally sourced ingredients with easy to follow instructions to prepare your own chef created meal in the cottage.

Ray and I tried out one ourselves.  The kit is portioned to feed 2 people.  We selected the fish entrée – Salmon with Garlicky Broccoli and Rosemary Roasted Red Potatoes.

redhen2Take a look at the fresh pieces of salmon and the fresh produce!

redhen4Check out these step by step instructions that are included!

redhen3While Melissa prepared the meal, Ray “supervised” and tasted wine to determine what would be appropriate for our meal.  The meal prep was fast & easy and most important delicious.  Nothing was left on either of our plates.  Our response back to Chef Matt & Chef Stephanie was “WOW” and thank you for providing a delicious meal.


The Red Hen Meal Kits are available to the cottage guests starting February 1.  Chef Matt creates the meal kit menu weekly based on local seasonal products and produce. Since we don’t know the specific entrée meal in advance, your selection is a choice of either (1) beef, (2) chicken, (3) fish or (4) vegetarian.  Your meal kit will be placed in your refrigerator so you have it upon arrival. When you open the kit, you will find out what you will be making. It is like a kid on Christmas morning!  A dessert will also be included.

If you have an existing reservation and would like to add the Red Hen Meal Kit dinner option, email us or give us a call.

You gotta try one!

Teamwork leads to an awesome B&B stay for guests 31 Dec 2016, 10:55 am

As 2016 draws to a close, we want to tell you about the team of people who make Steeles Tavern Manor B&B and Alpine Hideaway Cottages the wonderful retreat that it is. Ray & I are supported in our efforts to make your stay the best possible experience by the dedicated work of a whole “family” of workers. We want to thank these team members and let you know who is adding those special little touches for your comfort.

employee-leeWhen you pull into our driveway, you will see that, in the summer, the grass is neatly mown, the weeds are held at bay, the pool stays crystal clear, and the shrubs are trimmed. In the winter, the walkways are clear of snow and the driveway has been plowed. All this beautification is performed by our “You name it guy”, Lee. Lee worked for the previous owners of this wonderful property so he knows more about the house and grounds than we do! Lee is part landscaper, carpenter, brush clearer, plumber, painter – you get the picture! He can do it all (and has!)! On his days off, he enjoys riding his motorcycle around these Virginia hills and mountains.

Our “VP of Operations” is Louise. While Ray & I are the “face” of Steeles Tavern manor, employee-louiseLouise is the person who manages laundry and kitchen activities. She is the person who will make your plate look great by plating the breakfast food and adding garnishes. Louise is committed to the “behind the scenes” work of cleaning the kitchen and making sure we have lots of clean sheets, fluffy towels, and soft robes for all the guests. Our dog, Bacchus, sees Louise as a second “mom” and he enjoys spending time with her as she completes her tasks. If you happen to catch Louise as she zips around the B&B, ask her about her grandchildren.

We have a 3-person housekeeping team to keep everything in the house looking great and sparkling clean.

employee-shirleyShirley is our “HOH” (head of housekeeping) and has been managing us and managing the schedules for the other housekeepers for four years. Shirley can do any job around the house and, during busy times, rotates kitchen duties with Louise. Shirley always has the best interests of our guests AND the efficiency of the operations around the house in mind. When Shirley starts a sentence with “I was just thinking”, we know to be prepared for a great idea to improve something at Steeles Tavern Manor! Shirley lives just minutes from the B&B and enjoys “playing in the dirt” in her own garden and canning her own veggies in her spare time.

April has been working at the B&B for three years and during that time, she has shown us employee-aprilwhat clean really is! She is a “perfectionist” and her attention to detail pays off with super clean rooms and bathrooms. She also keeps tabs on supply levels for all the wonderful amenities you find in your room and bathroom so we know when it’s time to reorder those things. As a new mom, she loves spending every moment with her young son.

The “New kid on the block” is Brittany who has worked for us since July 2016. Shirley has trained her well so Brittany understands our standards and is very thorough in her work. employee-brittanyIt seems like she has been here longer than six months because she fits so well into our team. She is a very busy mom of two sons so the “new kid” also has some of the qualities of the “Energizer bunny”!


Bacchus – watching for guests to arrive.






The “Official Greeter” for the B&B is Bacchus, our black Lab. As Ray & I meet and greet the guests, Bacchus’ tail never stops wagging because he knows that he already likes you! When he’s not greeting guests, he’s checking up on the other team members, taking walks, playing with toys, and eating.

We feel that our employees are part of our family.  And they all feel the same.  When guests walk through the door of the Inn or Cottages, the “wow” feeling that sets in is the result of the hard work and commitment of our employees.

Thank you Lee, Louise, Shirley, April, and Brittany for your hard work, dedication, and attention to detail!  You’re THE BEST!

Happy 2017!

Melissa & Ray

New Holiday Tradition at Steeles Tavern Manor B&B 14 Dec 2016, 2:45 pm

When December arrives, I begin to think of Christmases past and all the traditions my family has observed throughout my lifetime. In last year’s December blog, I told you about decorating and baking cookies. The decorations still include the many Santas I’ve collected over the years. I gave you a recipe for Chocolate mint squares – a favorite here at the B&B. Two years ago I told of our Italian family’s tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve.

gingerbread-house1This year we have started what I think may be a new tradition – building a gingerbread house with my 3-year-old granddaughter! Making Gingerbread Houses began in Germany in the 16th century and became very popular after the publication of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Their story of Hansel & Gretel, who found the house made of treats when they were lost in the woods, increased the popularity of the sweet construction project.

gingerbread-house2The construction of gingerbread houses has taken on new dimensions as records of the largest houses are broken. In 2013, a new record was set for the largest house according to the Guinness World Records. That gingerbread house, built as a benefit for a hospital trauma center in Bryan, TX, was a 2,520-square-foot structure and made with 7,200 eggs and 7,200 pounds of flour! Since 1969, even the US First Family has a tradition of having the White House replicated in gingerbread! Our gingerbread house here at Steeles Tavern Manor was built on a much smaller scale – but with lots of fun and love included in the ingredients!

gingerbread-house3I worked on the “mortar” of the structure – using icing to hold it all together. Then my granddaughter chose all the decorations and details of the house. She placed gum drops, peppermints, and other candies to decorate our little gingerbread house. Ours may is certainly not as BIG as some gingerbread houses. Nor is it made to perfection like the White House replica. But we had so much fun together and in the process made great memories and perhaps a new holiday tradition!gingerbread-house4

May your traditions bring you joy and provide warm memories as you celebrate this special season!

Christmas Productions at Blackfriars Playhouse Staunton 30 Nov 2016, 10:52 am

logoThe American Shakespeare Center recreates the total theatre experience from Shakespeare’s time period. The English Renaissance stage is a participatory production and is a quite different style than what we typically think of as a theatre performance today. The Blackfriars Theatre puts the actors in the center of the audience and it is into this format that Christmas productions come to Staunton, VA.

The classic “A Christmas Carol”, written by Charles Dickens, is on stage from December 2 through December 26, 2016. This is the one play that has been performed every year since the theatre was built in 2001. Even though this stage was built to use Shakespearian methods from the actors, the Dickens play works with the audience’s imagination as a tool for the performers. Scrooge, the three ghosts, and the Cratchit family make the audience believe in second chances and the joy of the season!14915640_10154341013618347_5052984239809576073_n

Another Christmas show on stage this year is “The Santaland Diaries” by David Sedaris. The author wrote essays about his life-altering experience working as an elf in Macy’s Department Store. The Blackfriars Theatre’s play was adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello. The experiences of the writer in this one-man play fall into the category of “we can’t this up”! The play is outrageously funny as told by the tallest elf ever. Enjoy this show running from November 29 through December 26, 2016.

15193704_10154341013488347_1238343999576178468_nOne other tale for this season is “The 12 Dates of Christmas”. Enjoy “Dates” from November 30 through December 31, 2016. After seeing her fiancé making out with a co-worker on national TV at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Mary’s heart is broken. She drops her engagement ring into a Salvation Army donation pot and spends the next year navigating her new life. The almost-one-woman play tells her tale of blind dates, friend dates, first dates, and bad dates after that fateful Thanksgiving Day TV show.

Each Thursday evening, the audience has the opportunity to “talk back” with the actors. Discuss the performers’ interpretation of the role. Learn more about their experiences and interactions with the audiences. Purchase tickets online for all performances.

Black Friday and Shop Small Saturday Gift Certificates 20 Nov 2016, 10:02 am

Looking for a unique gift idea for a special person? Steeles Tavern Manor Bed & Breakfast and Alpine Hideaway Cabins has the perfect solution to your gift buying quest!shopsmall2

Purchase a Gift Certificate for a stay at this B&B which is conveniently located between Staunton and Lexington VA – two of the “Best Small Towns” in the USA. In fact, both of these towns will be busy on “black Friday” and “Shop Small Saturday” as the shopkeepers in these downtown districts kick-off the shopping season.

Independent, small businesses return three times the economic benefits back to their local community as the “big box” stores. Locally owned, small businesses also increase the property values of downtown districts. By “shopping small” everyday, not just on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, you support the economy of our historic towns in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

The independent owners can provide special knowledge about their products and about the quaint town you’re visiting too. Explore clothing shops and gift shops. Shop for kitchen specialty items and home décor. You can also find college logo clothing to rugged outdoor apparel. And buy some locally produced Virginia wine to add to the gift package.shopsmall1fullsizerender-5

You can add an extra package to the B&B Gift Certificate too. Include an In-room massage, dinner for two (“Dine in like a local” package), flower or balloons, or a celebration wine package. The extra touches make the gift, and the stay, so much better! Your special someone will enjoy receiving the Gift Certificate then, at a later time, enjoy the getaway. It will seem like two gifts!

Black Friday or Shop Small Saturday are perfect opportunities to take advantage of special sales at local stores and at Steeles Tavern Manor B&B. Call us to purchase Gift Certificates for family members and special friends: (540)377-9494.shopsmall3

Dine In – Like a Local at Steeles Tavern Manor B&B in VA 30 Oct 2016, 2:42 pm


Relax after your arrival and enjoy the “Dine In Like a Local” dinner package by the pond.

As we approach the end of the fall season, temperatures dip, and darkness comes earlier each day, we begin to think of “nesting” or snuggling down and just being comfortable. This is one reason Steeles Tavern Manor B&B and Alpine Hideaway Cottages are offering a dinner special, “Dine In Like a Local”.

After perhaps a long drive in to Steeles Tavern, VA, you may just want to relax and snuggle-in for the night by the fireplace available in all cabins and most guest rooms.

The dinner is delivered to you from Gertie’s Country Store with a choice from five entrées and each one includes Gertie’s special fries – for only $25 for two people!

Choose from these main dishes:

Pulled Pork sandwich with Gertie’s secret sauce

Burger or Cheeseburger

Chicken Wings – Hot, mild, or BBQ (order of 8)

Club Sandwich – choice of turkey, ham, or cheese

Sub Sandwich – choice of Italian, turkey, or veggie


Enjoy your “local” dinner by the fireplace in one of the Alpine Cabins.

These local selections make it an easy evening for you after checking-in or after a day of touring around the Shenandoah Valley.

Gertie’s is a local restaurant – where locals eat! Reviews of Gerties – most of which were submitted by travelers – tell you that the food will be really good. Some of the TripAdvisor reviews are titled “One of a kind”, “Absolutely great stop”, “Super wonderful” and “Delicious BBQ!.” 80% of reviewers on Yelp give Gertie’s 5 stars and the other 20% are 4 stars. Readers of BlueRidge Country named Gertie’s one of the “final four” best restaurants on the Blue Ridge Parkway Foodie Tour.

DINE IN LIKE A LOCAL is designed to help make you feel at home. Huddle down for the night and enjoy local foods prepared by local folks. This offer is available Monday night through Saturday night with 24 hours notice. Make your reservation and order your Dine In Dinner.


Baroque Equestrian Games at Virginia Horse Center 15 Oct 2016, 6:16 pm

ce92d553The 2016 Classical Championship, Expo, and Grand Gala of the Baroque Equestrian Games will be held Friday, October 21 through Sunday, October 23, 2016 at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, VA. This three-day event is a “must attend” for all equestrians in the mid-Atlantic area. This event is a special, artistic competition that celebrates the artistry and elegance of Classical Horsemanship.

The event begins with a special Friday Night Festival that includes a Wine & Cheese Costume Party. The Cavalcade of Classical Breeds will feature various historic horse breeds and tell a bit about the history and attributes of the breeds. Well known trainers will demonstrate the Baroque Riding styles. The Classical Stallion Spotlight will allow these magnificent animals to strut their stuff. And there will even be a Classical Horse Sale Spotlight that evening. So if you are looking for a classic breed horse, this is your opportunity to see these animals’ gait and build.16ea67e5

On Saturday evening, the 2016 Grand Gala will tell the story of The Magical, Mythical Horse – the unicorn. This little Unicorn makes a fantastic journey on its way to finding its healing powers – and the show admission is a fundraiser for Hoofbeats Therapeutic Riding Center. Ticket prices are $10 for general admission and $20 for reserve seating.

During the day on Saturday and Sunday, a Classical Horsemanship Competition will take place. Four unique sections and four phases of training will be available. The judges will provide evaluation and discussion after each ride. World-renowned trainers will be lecturing on various topics and demonstrating riding styles and training techniques. The focus is on the qualities of relaxation, lightness, balance, brilliance, suppleness, and self-carriage. If you want to improve your riding skills, the Baroque Equestrian Games will be the place to be in late October. If you just enjoy watching grace in motion, these equestrian demonstrations and gala events will be wonderful entertainment.