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Biltmore Estate, The Jewel of Asheville, NC


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Meals and Celebrations in the Banquet Hall at Biltmore Mansion
Biltmore Estate, The Jewel of Asheville, NC
© Biltmore Estate.
The massive Banquet Hall is one of the most impressive spaces in the opulent 250-room Biltmore Mansion. It is 72 feet long, 42 feet wide, and its walls stretch up 70 feet tall.

Back in the day, people ate differently and many servants were required to cook, set up the table, serve the food, and pour the wine. Without distractions such as television or movies, a meal became the main event in a night, and it often lasted for hours, with many courses provided.

Delicacies such as Oysters Rockefeller, which came into favor at the turn of the century, and vichyssoise would impress diners. Meat was no doubt served, with exotic elk, caribou, bear, moose cuts making their way onto the menu.

George Vanderbilt collected more than beautiful objects; he also collected fine wines during his travels, that he would then serve to his guests. (It wasn't till nearly a century later that Biltmore Estate, after planting vineyards, would begin to produce and offer its own wines.) Keep in mind that with the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment (Prohibition) in January 1919, many tables went dry -- although private homes were rarely prosecuted for serving the fruit of the vine.

Wall decorations in the Banquet Hall at Biltmore Mansion include priceless Flemish tapestries from the 16th century. The room also features a triple fireplace and an organ loft. The oak dining table can expand to accommodate 64 guests, although no one has lived or dined in Biltmore Mansion since the 1950s.

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