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Chocolate and shopping and wine, oh my! - The Indiana Insider Blog
Last weekend, I headed east to Wayne County at the invitation of Nancy Sartain who works for the convention and visitors bureau. Having lived for three years in Richmond, Indiana when I was a little girl, I was excited to return to see what the city has to offer big girls. I wasn’t disappointed.
My first stop was at the Lantz House Inn in Centerville, where I said a quick hello to innkeeper Marcia Hoyt before dropping my bags and heading out with Nancy. After our fascinating visit to the Levi Coffin House, we headed for Richmond. I was surprised at how much of the town I remembered from my childhood. Nancy took me to Richmond’s Depot District, named for the old train depot that still stands today. By this time, it was after 1pm and we were both hungry.
Our hunger was quickly satisfied at Ghyslain Chocolatier and Bistro. Though I was tempted to skip lunch and head straight for the works of art called dessert, lunch was well worth the interruption. My tomato bruschetta with shrimp was delicious and I had a hard time saving room for dessert.
After lunch, we did a bit of window shopping at shops in the Depot District including trendy gift shop Coco’s By Hand, At Home Kitchen Gourmet, Maria Mitrione’s Italian Market and the Good Life Emporium, where I found the most perfect “Life is Good” shirt for myself, a picture of a roaring fireplace with the phrase “Log On!”
Just in time for the sugar high from my raspberry chocolate sacher to wear off, Nancy took me out of the Depot District into Uptown Richmond to make a stop at Olympian Candies, which is celebrating its 100th year of making caramels, toffee and Greek cremes. From 1909 until 1999, Olympian was run by members of the James Chagares family, who had immigrated from Greece.
In 1999, Kim Mitchell and her mother Gail Bowman bought Olympian to continue the delicious tradition started by the shop’s original owners. Kim and her crew still make the candies according to their original recipes. In addition to selling candy to people who come in to the store, Olympian ships individual and corporate orders all over the country.
On our way back to the Lantz House, we stopped at the Warm Glow Candle Outlet. I’ve been dying to stop there for several years, as we pass “the world’s largest candle” every time we head to my parents’ house in Ohio. Located along I-70 at Exit 145, you can’t miss it! Don’t let the word “outlet” fool you. These hand-dipped, made in Indiana candles are not second rate. They come in 70 different fragrances and in a variety of sizes. In addition, the Warm Glow Candle Outlet has a wide selection of home decor and gift items. My daughter has already put her Christmas order in for the “Bella,” “Edward” and “Jacob” candles:
After I said goodbye to Nancy, I had a few minutes to visit with Marcia Hoyt back at the Lantz House. Then it was off to meet my parents at J&J Winery for dinner. My parents drove to J&J Winery from their home in Dayton, Ohio, about a 45 minute drive. The winery is relatively new to Richmond, having opened in February by neighbors Jim and Karen Ramey and Dr. Jeff and Melody Haist. Jeff is a cardiologist, so there must be some truth to that whole “wine is good for your heart” thing!
Because they just harvested their first crop of grapes, which are grown on the couples’ properties south of Richmond in Abington, Indiana, J&J currently serves a selection of wines from around the world. I was partial to the sweet and bubbly red Serena. Wine tasting is encouraged and the first three samples are free.
J&J’s menu is limited to a selection of appetizers, including fruit and cheese platters, bruchetta and hummus, and wood-fired pizza cooked in the outdoor pizza oven. I’d recommend getting an appetizer because on a busy night, it can be a little bit of a wait for your pizza, as the oven wasn’t built to cook too many pizzas at once. I didn’t really mind, though. It’s not often I have a chance to visit with my parents without the kids running around! And when our pizzas arrived — we had the Italian sausage/pepperoni and the Margherita pizza — they were both hot and delicious.
After dinner, we had the good fortune of meeting Dr. Haist, who was kind enough to take us on a tour of production area where J&J’s wines will be made. Awaiting federal approval on its labeling were 96 cases of J&J’s apple wine, which tasted like a spicy apple cider — perfect for a cool fall evening!
At the end of the evening, I was exhausted, but happy for having had the opportunity to return to Richmond and Wayne County, where I learned that you CAN go home again.