10th Anniversary post: Our first day in Orange, VA

Travel back in time to 1996: Sam, the budding History and English double-major, was accepted in the July 1996 Montpelier Summer Archaeology Program at Montpelier. He stayed on Montpelier’s grounds with about a dozen other university students and wielded his trowel at the Mount Pleasant site on the property. Sam and Sharon, fellow students at James Madison University, had been dating for well over a year.  Sharon drove down from Northern VA on Saturdays to visit Sam. They would grab sandwiches at Sparks Deli (now Elmwood at Sparks) and have a picnic in Taylor Park (the park across the street from the inn.) Fast forward to September 15, 2006: Sam and Sharon just purchased the Holladay House Bed and Breakfast on Main Street. After a morning of directing the movers, they walked past Taylor Park to Elmwood at Sparks to grab lunch and take a moment to celebrate.  They met Randy Cooper, who opened Elmwood at Sparks just 6 months prior, and joked about being the two new kids on the block. As Sam and Sharon exited Elmwood at Sparks, they ran into the Sam’s summer archaeology director from Montpelier! She was still directing the archaeology program at Montpelier; and Sam pointed to the Holladay House Bed and Breakfast and said, “We just bought that today!” Over the last 10 years Sam and Sharon have shared many meals with his archaeology director and still take lunch breaks at Elmwood at Sparks. Save...

Here’s to 10 years – and counting!

How quickly ten years can fly by. That’s right—ten years! We’re commemorating our 10th anniversary innkeeping here at the Holladay House, and as part of the celebration, we thought maybe you’d like to know a bit more about our innkeeping story. Our story begins in the middle of heavy interstate traffic, which is where we had our “aha!” moment. Sam turned to me and announced he couldn’t stand another day of commuting and he had an idea. He asked if we wanted to leave it all behind and start a bed & breakfast, and without hesitation, I answered, “Yes.” We immersed ourselves in the B&B world over the next year and a half, researching, interviewing, attending conferences, and joining the Bed & Breakfast Association of Virginia (BBAV) and the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII). The more we learned, the more excited we became! While we were looking for potential inn properties, we happened to visit an inn for sale listed with a southern gentleman named Pete. Pete became our B&B real estate agent, and over the next year, he showed us all around the Central Virginia area as we continued to scout out potential properties. In the meantime, I quit my career in marketing and began working part-time at an inn and a winery. However, Sam and I grew concerned we weren’t finding the perfect property for our needs.  We finally decided if we found nothing after one last weekend of visiting properties with Pete, we would abandon our B&B plans and come up with a different idea. Little did we know, that one last upcoming weekend would...
5th Annual Hops & Chops Set For July 5th

5th Annual Hops & Chops Set For July 5th

The menu is short-listed, the beer is delivered, and the meat is awaiting marinade. In a little over a week there will be a lot more crackling in Orange than just fireworks—and there’s still time  to save yourself a seat. Hops & Chops is our favorite way to celebrate Independence Day here at the Holladay House. For five years since 2009 (no, that’s not a typo; there was a hiatus in 2012) the Elswick family has pulled out all the stops every 4th of July weekend to share this holiday dinner with their family and friends. Hops & Chops steps the traditional Independence Day meal up a notch, bringing to the table food that’s not only delicious, but strictly local. Everything on the menu was produced within the state, and most from within Orange County. From the medley of Virginia beers (many so up-and-coming they’re not yet available in supermarkets!) to the herbs (harvested from our garden out back) flavoring the locally-sourced meat, the celebration brings together our top picks of the area’s offerings. The full menu isn’t yet finalized (local availability will play into that) but the sneak peek I received involved things like “Cider-Brined Pork Chops With Dried Cherries and Apple Chips” and “Holladay House Made-From-Scratch Buttermilk Biscuits” as well as a number of just-picked, garden-fresh sides. Complimenting the dinner will be a selection of beers chosen to pair perfectly with the flavors of each course. Wrapping things up (my favorite part!) will be a selection of dessert favorites, including “Sharon’s Amazing All-American Apple Pie”.   Everything is served indoors, away from the humidity, sunburn, and pesky...
The smell of homemade biscuits . . .

The smell of homemade biscuits . . .

Made-from-Scratch Buttermilk Biscuit Recipe from Orange, VA When we bought the Holladay House Bed and Breakfast in Orange, VA, the Holladay family bestowed upon us the secret of their success: their family buttermilk biscuit recipe! The Holladay family owned our home for over a century, from 1899 to 2000.  In 1989, Pete Holladay (the grandson of Dr. Lewis Holladay) and his wife Phebe (yes, that is spelled correctly), turned his family’s Main Street historic home into a Virginia Bed and Breakfast.  In a small historic town like Orange, Virginia, an innkeeper simply has no “street cred” unless they are capable of producing the best-tasting biscuits around.  So, Pete kept his family’s buttermilk biscuit recipe alive, and these biscuits probably have been made in this house as long as his family owned it. We are happy to keep the tradition alive, and our guests are glad we are!  Sharon has delighted many out-of-town guest as well as Orange, Virginia locals by learning this historic buttermilk biscuit recipe. While I get a chance to sleep in a little, she gets up early to bake these buttermilk biscuits fresh for our guests. As I said in my post on how to cook bacon, one should seek instruction from the masters of previous generations.  For your breakfast-eating pleasure, we are passing this recipe along to you.  And for a tutorial on how to make these tasty treats, view Sharon’s YouTube video. Enjoy! Holladay Family Buttermilk Biscuits from Orange, VA Ingredients: 2 cups all purpose flour 1 T baking powder 2 teaspoons sugar 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/8 teaspoon salt 1 stick...