hearts chocolate and flowers

Hearts, Chocolate & Flowers

Quicker than Cupid’s arrow, Heidi Billotto here, with a rundown of several creative ways to celebrate Valentine’s 2020 with a variety of local hearts, chocolate and flowers.

We’ll get right to it as planning ( and shopping) time is short.

You Melt My Heart from Chef Brittani Rayfield in Rock Hill, SC

Start with a sweet, rich and creamy way to melt your Valentine’s heart. If you’ve been following me on these pages, you already know about Pastry Chef Brittani Rayfield of CTO Sweets and her incredible Melting Hot Chocolate Heart, in my Made in the Carolina’s post last week. The post actually starts with a section on KFC, but be patient, scroll down and you’ll see all the local.

Hearts chocolate and flowers

What you may not know is that the white chocolate heart, perfect for Valentine’s gift giving is just one in the line of Meltables, this creative pastry chef has created.

hearts chocolate and flowers

This white chocolate heart, comes filled with Brittani’s homemade hot chocolate mix and mini marshmallows. You can make a more adult version simply by adding a chocolate or coffee liqueur. I suggest keeping it local and adding in one of the Damn Fine Liqueurs from Durham Distillery.

Hearts chocolate and flowers

The heart is just one of Britanni’s “Meltables” . For Winter, enjoy Marshall the Melting Snowman – also filled with hot chocolate mix and mini marshmallows. Then, in the fall, plan on getting your pumpkin spice fix with Brittany’s white chocolate pumpkin, made with local pumpkin from Bush and Vine Farms in Clover SC. For Halloween, the concept takes a fun and a little bit gruesome twist – a white chocolate skull filled with blood red hot chocolate mix, for a slightly scary but still delicious treat!

hearts chocolate and flowers

Still Time to Order your You Melt my Heart

To order, simply contact Brittani via email at ctosweets@gmail.com. No company website yet, but you can follow CTO Sweets on Facebook and keep up with all that is new and delicious.

To see how the meltables work – check out this video interview I did with Brittani a couple of weeks ago. Reality is, so if for some reason, you don’t see a video below, click here, to check it all out.

Meet Pastry Chef Brittani Rayfield of CTO sweets and learn more about her clever line of meltables.

Sweet Sweets from Amelie’s in Charlotte, NC

hearts chocolate and flowers

I met with Amelie’s, French Bakery and Cafe, Director of Operations and Executive Chef, Mary Jayne Wilson, who is also a 2019-2020 NC Department of Agriculture Chef Ambassador, earlier in the month to talk Valentine’s Day 2020.

hearts chocolate & flowers

As they have in the past, Amelie’s is offering their “Eclair Your Love” promotion. It’s a fun way for you to express your love for your Valentine or Sweetie pie in icing on a locally baked and filled eclair.

hearts chocolate and flowers

As I said in a recent Instagram post with this same photo, the sample of the Eclair Your Love, that Mary Jane crafted for me, had me diving into my work in a whole different way! Consider them a wonderfully delicious alternative to a generic box of Conversation Hearts.

hearts chocolate and flowers

If Eclairs aren’t your thing, then think raspberry tarts. Or consider this, a wonderful gluten free/dairy free Vegan Chocolate Truffle bar made with coconut milk, raw sugar, bittersweet chocolate, cocoa powder and agar agar. The base is toasted almonds, toasted coconut, dates and coconut oil. On the top, fresh raspberry halves brushed with gold.

hearts chocolate and flowers

Its all about red fruit and pink and white macarons at Amelie’s this month. And while you are there, be sure to enjoy a cup of Pure Intentions locally roasted coffee. Pure Intentions is based in Charlotte and has for years, roasted and packaged a special “Amelie’s” blend.

hearts chocolate and flowers

All the pastries at any location of Amelie’s come “gift wrapped” in the perfect Tiffany-blue striped box and are super sweet ways to say Happy Valentine’s Day.

Cupid’s Feb 14 Hours at Amelie’s

All locations of Amelie’s are open on February 14, 2020. The Noda location, the bakery’s flagship store, is open 24/7; The Park Road and Uptown Charlotte locations are open from 7 am till midnight. Amelie’s at Carmel Commons is open from 7 am till 11pm and in Rock Hill, the bakery is open from 7am – 10 pm.

Two for Tea and Tea for Two

hearts chocolate and  flowers
A Bird’s Eye view of High Tea at Charlotte’s historic McNinch House.

Guests are cordially invited to the McNinch House Restaurant, for an authentic High Tea.

You’ll be served on antique china at a table set with antique silver and enjoy some of the same small indulgences that have become de rigueur at this very English ritual. The cost is $65 per person, and reservations are a must.

hearts chocolate and flowers
I just love all owner Ellen Davis has done to keep the historic McNinch House in its original splendor as a Charlotte landmark.

The McNinch House is a true Charlotte, NC treasure, nestled in Charlotte’s Fourth Ward neighborhood. Much celebrated, the McNinch House has 20 years of consecutive AAA Four-Diamond awards and a multitude of Wine Spectator awards. It is a place to dine unlike any other!

High Tea and A Taste of History at Charlotte’s McNinch House

At 100+ years old, the home has been completed restored by Charlottean Ellen Davis. Ellen has owned and lived in the historic house for the past 40 years. This year, in January of 2020, Ellen the McNinch House staff celebrated 31 years in business! Inside, you’ll find the stunning hand-crafted wooden pocket doors, detailed wooden trim and the library’s original coffered ceiling.

Enjoy the seasonal menu any night of the week for dinner. Advance reservations are a must- or plan to celebrate with your Sweetheart at a special prix fixe Valentine’s repast, served February 13, 14 and 15, 2020.

Just in case you don’t see the video below – click here to watch.

You can also plan to enjoy High Tea with friends or your sweetie on Saturday February 22, from 1-3 pm. As seen in this video, a conversation with Ellen over tea, the high tea menu features assorted homemade tea sandwiches, a dessert tray of small pastries, tea and if you would like a choice of wine!

Update: since the original posting of this article, McNinch House has planned several more Saturday afternoon High Tea events. The next one is on Saturday March 28, 2020

This special event is by reservation only. Call the restaurant at 704.332.6159  or email mcninchhouse@gmail.com. #TellThemHeidiSentYou

Hearts chocolate and flowers

For the Love of Camellias in Edgefield, South Carolina

I know roses are generally the flower that gets all the Valentine’s Day love, but I’m a peony kind of girl; and I love camellias. Sweet delicate blooms that brighten up the winter and fall, these flowers with paper thin petals have always been a favorite. When my mom passed away in 2009, we transplanted two of her camellia bushes. We carefully drove them across state lines from her home in Jacksonville, Florida to our backyard in Charlotte. For the first few several years in the Carolinas the bushes grew and leafed out every season, but no blooms.

hearts chocolate and flowers

But then, about 4 years ago they started blooming. Now at the start of each winter season we enjoy the bright pink blooms I love to cut and bring inside. Here they are gently floating in a shallow pool of water in my pink “pasta” bowl from Haand Pottery in Burlington, NC?

Now, that you know about my camellias, you can imagine my interest when I tuned into one of my favorite gardening shows and heard about an annual Camellia Tea in Edgefield SC.

Treat Your Valentine to a SC Roadtrip

Edgefield is known for many things. Among them, Hickory Hill Milk, THE milk in Clemson Blue Cheese and in Clemson Gourmet Ice Cream. I have written about this region of South Carolina several times in posts that centered on events and attractions in the Old 96 Tourism District of South Carolina. But, I didn’t know about the annual Valentine’s Camellia Tea.

Clemson Extension Agent, the adorable, Amanda McNulty, is the charming host of “Making It Grow” on SC ETV. It is one of my favorite gardening shows and I try to catch in whenever I can. Amanda, if you are reading this, I’d love to come and and cook with you sometime.

But, I digress. In the 2018 travel segment I recently caught in a rerun, Amanda found herself in Edgefield chatting with Henrietta Humphreys about the city’s history of camellias and about their annual Camellia Tea.

The Camellia Tea is sponsored annually by the Edgefield Camellia Club. This year the festivities will be held on Thursday, February 13, 2020, from 2:30 to 5pm. It all takes place at Magnolia Dale, headquarters of the Edgefield County Historical Society, located in downtown Edgefield. Take your Valentine or gather a group of good friends and plan to spend the afternoon. The event is open to the public. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. Along with the tea, sandwiches and sweets, there will also be flowers. Look to enjoy lots of varieties of camellias all on display. And, if you want to learn more, several camellia experts will be on hand to tell you all about this lovely Southern bloom.

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