Steeles Tavern Manor and Alpine Hideaway Cottages

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

Lexington VA Carriage Tours April – October 2017 6 Apr 2017, 1:18 pm

Carriage ride

One of the best ways to see all the historic sites in Lexington, VA is from a horse-drawn carriage. The Lexington Carriage Company began its 2017 season on April 1st and will continue the tours until the end of October.

The slow pace gives you a great view of all the historic buildings. The clip-clop of the horses’ hooves makes the tour a relaxing experience. The driver narrates the tour through the downtown business district, both college campuses, and through part of the historic residential district. You may even hear some great stories that are not published in the usual visitor guides.Horse-drawn carriage

On the historical tour, the route takes you by The Stonewall Jackson House, Lee Chapel, Washington & Lee University, Virginia Military Institute, The Lee House, The Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery and Jackson’s Tomb, and a view of some historic residences built in the mid-1800’s.

The tours begin across the street from the Lexington Visitor Center at 106 E. Washington St. and are available daily (weather permitting) from 11:00AM to 4:30PM. This 45-50 minute tour costs $16 for ages 14-64; $14 for “seniors” 65 and over; $7 for 7-13 year olds; $4 for kids 4-6; and FREE for children 3 years old and younger. If you are visiting the area with a larger group (10+ people), reservations can be made for the tour by calling (540)463-5647.

Lexington Carriage Co The Lexington Carriage Company has a variety of horse breeds including Belgian, Percheron, and Percheron-cross. Their carriages are built for various occasions and loads. You can hire a special white Vis-a-vis style carriage for a wedding party or a larger 3-seater complete with a fringe on top! If you happen to be in the area for the Lexington Candlelight Processional & Tree Lighting or other parades and events in the Shenandoah Valley, you may see one of the hitches marching in the parade route.

When you plan your visit to Steeles Tavern Manor B&B and Alpine Hideaway Cottages this spring, include a horse-drawn carriage ride and tour in Lexington, VA for a fun experience.

Group Carriage ride

Antiquing in the Shenandoah Valley 25 Mar 2017, 1:44 pm

Did you know that the largest antique mall in America is located just 25 minutes north of Steeles Tavern Manor Bed & Breakfast and Alpine Hideaway Cottages? And that’s just the beginning of your shopping adventure in the Shenandoah ValleyFactory Antique Mall

Up and down Lee Highway (US Route 11), you will find lots of antique shops and malls featuring all types of old stuff, collectors’ items, period pieces, heirlooms, vintage items, antiquities, and treasures. From our B&B (conveniently located along US Route 11), drive north to the small village of Verona, VA to find the country’s largest antique mall. The Factory Antique Mall has 13,000 square feet of antiques all on one floor. The building was a clothing factory for over 30 years. Then in 1996, The Factory Antique Mall set-up shop and has been growing ever since. The Mall has over 225 dealers who sell their wares and keep the inventory constantly changing. The Country Café can supply you with lunch to keep you fueled for the treasure hunt!

Antique ShopFrom Verona, travel south to Staunton, VA where you will find at least ten antique shops in the downtown district. The names of these shops are enough to entice you to enter and browse around the shop. Visit the Jolly Roger Haggle Shop where you may be able to “negotiate” (or haggle) for a great deal on your special find. Stop by Memory Maker and reminisce about an tool that you know your grandfather used in his shed. Stroll into Of Wattles Made and ask what “wattles” are. Turtle Lane is a gift shop where you may want to walk through at a turtle’s pace to see all the unique artwork displayed. Queen City Marketplace is not only an antique shop but also an auction house. It is the largest collectable shop in the city and has everything from furniture to jewelry and dishware to wall décor. 17 Beverly is the name of the shop and the location of this building with seven different vendors in one spot. If you travel west on Beverly Street, crossing Augusta Street, you will find Staunton Antiques Center in the building that was home to the McCrory store. With 10,000 square feet of display space filled with nostalgic keepsakes, artwork, and bric-a-brac, you will surely find a treasurer or two to take home. Slightly south of Staunton you will find The Alpha and Omega Antique Mall – a place that offer’s a creative shopping experience by making you feel like you’re stepped back in time.

The two antique shops located closest to our B&B are Old South Antiques, in the small village of Brownsburg, and 3 Seasons Antiques & Unique Treasures in Fairfield. By the way, Fairfield, VA is also home to The Quiltery where you can purchase all types of quilting supplies.Antique furniture

Continuing south along the Lee Highway, you will find Lexington, VA – home of VMI and Washington & Lee University. This picturesque, historic town is also home to The Antique Mall, which has 150 vendors displaying their items to sell. Duke’s Lexington Antique Center is another shop located along US Route 11. In downtown Lexington, search out Wolf & Company. Rick Wolf worked for Southeby’s and is dedicated to finding great artwork to share with you. Fred and Deb’s Antiques is also a great stop for bargain hunters.

Antiquing in the Shenandoah Valley will be the perfect adventure if you are on a mission to find that matchless heirloom piece for yourself, a special wedding gift, or a memento of your visit to Virginia. Plan your visit to stay with us this spring.

St. Patrick says “Being GREEN” is good for the environment! 8 Mar 2017, 1:11 pm

As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, we all think about green things but here at Steeles Tavern Manor and Alpine Hideaway Cottages, we practice “green” living every day. We are a certified member of the “Virginia Green” program that is the Commonwealth’s campaign to encourage and promote environmentally-friendly practices in Virginia’s Tourism industry.

To be certified as “Virginia Green”, we pledge to encourage water conservation by offering optional daily towel and linen service. When you stay with us, you will see note cards in each guest room informing you how to tell us that you are willing to reuse towels and bed linens – saving hundreds of gallons of water each month. We use non-phosphate, biodegradable laundry detergents too.

Recycling is important to us. We have containers where guests can recycle glass, plastic, and aluminum. We also make sure we recycle cardboard and the energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs.
Energy conservation is accomplished in a number of ways around our property. The ceiling fans in the guest rooms offer a more efficient way to cool the room. Our “Energy Star”-rated windows and doors conserve heat in the winter. During the summer we be sure to close drapes to keep out the sunny heat of the day. Turning off fans, computers, monitors and other electronic devices when not is use, saves energy too. We utilize an outdoor word-burning furnace to heat our water in the manor house and to heat the first floor of the B&B. We also are sticklers for maintenance schedules for our HVAC systems and appliances. Our housekeeping staff does not allow “dust bunnies” to live under our refrigerator – which lessen the efficiency of that major appliance.

Our water conservation efforts reach beyond reusing linens to save water. Our landscaping is designed using native plants so the annual rainfall supports the plants without having to add irrigation. We maintain vegetation around ponds and streams to deter water run-off and cut back on water pollution.

At Steeles Tavern Manor B&B, we concentrate on using as many local food sources as possible. Not only does that mean great tasting breakfasts, but it also saves the environment by reducing pollution generated by transportation of the foods.

Clean air, clean water, and fresh air all help to make the Shenandoah Valley beautiful. We are doing our part to keep these natural resources a beautiful part of your visit to our “green” Virginia.  

 

 

 

 

Monticello is Home of our Third US President 27 Feb 2017, 6:08 pm

The Commonwealth of Virginia is the birthplace of eight of our country’s heads of the union! In fact, one of Virginia’s nicknames is “Mother of Presidents”. Other well-known nicknames are Old Dominion and Mother of States.

Perhaps the most famous presidential home in Virginia is Monticello – the home of Thomas Jefferson, our third president and primary author of the Declaration of Independence. This iconic property is located less than an hour’s drive from Steeles Tavern, VA. Stay with us and enjoy the drive through the hills of the Old Dominion state.

There are lots of options for different tours of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Start at the Visitors Center where there are four exhibitions, the Griffin Discovery Room, a 15-minute film about Thomas Jefferson, and the Monticello Museum Shop. A basic Day Pass and House Tour is available daily, year round (except for Christmas Day) for $20-$28 for adults and just $9 for children age 5-11. The lower range prices include seasonal and online discounts. The Day Pass includes Guided tours of the house, gardens & grounds, and slavery activities and buildings at the estate.

The Behind the Scenes House Tour and Day Pass provides more understanding of the life at Monticello. You tour behind the scenes on the first floor and up the narrow staircase to view the private quarters of the family. The iconic dome room is included in this more exclusive tour.

©Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello

The Hemings Family Tour is a 1¾ hours tour that includes many buildings in Mulberry Row – the area where many slaves lived and worked to maintain the home and make the plantation prosper. The Hemings family is perhaps the best-documented enslaved family in colonial America. The tour expands on the challenges of slave life and the desire for freedom. 

A Family –Friendly tour, with hands-on activities for kids, is available during special weekends in April, June, October, and December. This is a 40-minute guided tour is especially designed for families with children age 5 to 11. The guide will highlight Jefferson’s many interests and accomplishments.

 

©Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello

Research and renovations are always going on at Monticello. The most recent renovations are turning what had become a public restroom back to its original purpose – the private living quarters of Sally Heming and her six children (who may have been fathered by Jefferson). The 14’ X 13’ room with center fireplace is being excavated and archaeologists have found the original brick floor and plaster walls. Sally Hemings’s life story will become a part of the whole story of Monticello.

Visit Monticello in the spring to see the beautiful gardens and enjoy all that the Shenandoah Valley has to off

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.

redhen5

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”!

employee-bacchus1

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!