In a world increasingly cluttered with plastic card keys and generic breakfast buffets scattered around Interstates like so many five-story hotel dominoes, it’s nice to know that there remain special B & B finds that offer so much more, and not for much more money. These are the kind of places where you’re greeted by name, personally led up a creaky, grand winding staircase topped with a chiming grandfather clock, and, with chunky brass key in hand, enter a soothing oasis of chintz, fat pillows, crisp linens and a cup of hot tea served in a china cup. These are the kind of places where one feels utterly at home and nurtured, and the kinds of places I personally welcome after a long day (or several days) of travel.
Slightly faded but consummately stately and Southern, The Morehead Inn in Charlotte, NC, is just this kind of place. Built in 1917, the white clapboard and dark green tiled roof mansion was a private residence until it was converted into an inn in the 1980’s. It still bears the mood of a family residence, generously decorated with plush, deep sofas and chairs, Oriental carpets, mirrors and classic Oriental vases and curios. The staff, largely overseen by matriarchal Guest Service Manager Carolyn Jordan, is exceptionally friendly but adept at giving guests privacy and quiet as needed.
The Morehead Inn is situated in a rolling, green suburb of Charlotte called Dilworth. Broad avenues with leafy trees (just beginning to change during my visit) is an idyllic slice of Southern Americana. My amazing publicist and friend, Stephanie Burt, who is a proud Charlottean by birth, found it for us, and we were both so glad she did.
Naturally, The Morehead experience doesn’t stop at hospitality and charm, but includes a remarkable breakfast feast each morning. There are three choices, a continental menu of yogurt, fruit, pastries, a hot egg, grits, bacon, etc., option, and even Belgian waffles and pancakes made to order. Each is as great as the next, and keeps you full until well into the afternoon, which makes planning a three night-stay practically mandatory. Aside from being served by the charming Carolyn, the other thing each of these breakfast shares in common is the inclusion of the most amazing scones perhaps on this earth, almost certainly in the South.
Prepared by justifiably proud and very talented Pastry Chef Carol Weinles, they have a flakiness and airiness that defies anything I’ve ever before experienced with scones. In fact, prior to sampling Chef Carol’s scones, I’ve never really liked them before, considering them rather mealy and crumbly. Pictured in the upper left-hand corner in the shot above, they are also smaller than most, and make a most inviting, light addition to breakfast. But, no butter is required! Weinles attributes the high butter content and leavening agent (baking powder) to the unique deliciousness of her scones. She was generous enough to share her recipe, below. The fruit added to the scones, according to Weinles, varies, ranging from simple orange zest, to dried cranberries, or dried apricots.
Carol Weinles’ Sumptuous Scones
(Makes 16 – 20 scones)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup + 1 tablespoon All Purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dried fruit (suggest cranberries and/or apricots)
2 sticks + 3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
1 cup whole cream
2 – 3 tablespoons sugar for dusting prior to baking
Mix sugar, AP flour, cake flour, baking powder and salt on low speed with a blender until just incorporated. Add butter, increasing speed, and blending until the butter is “mealy”. Add the fruit and mix only until it starts to clump. Slowly incorporate the cream. Mix until combined, but do not over mix. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1″ thickness. Cut using round or square pastry cutters or using a chef’s knife. Arrange on a baking sheet and sprinkle with a little extra sugar. Bake at 350 F for 12 to 15 minutes. (Note: The scones can be made ahead, frozen, and baked as needed). Serve warm from the oven.
The Morehead Inn
112 E. Morehead Street
Charlotte, NC 28204
Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of talking tarts and Tart Love with Mike Collins and his team at Charlotte Talks, WFAE 90.7 FM in Charlotte, NC.
On the menu, all things delicious! We cover tart fillings, perfecting pastry, savory, sweet, and even sample some tarts brought in from a talentedJohnson & Wales pastry chef.
Feel free to hear the show anew by clicking on the link to the podcast listed above or download it on iTunes. To find out more about Charlotte Talks, visit www.wfae.org.