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5 Ways to Beat the Heat in Downtown Asheville

Visiting downtown Asheville this summer?  With record breaking heat throughout the country you’ll probably be looking for a way to cool off while exploring downtown.  Here are some fun ways to beat the heat in downtown Asheville, NC.

Enjoy a moment of reverence

Basillica of St. Lawrence in Asheville, NC

The Basilica of St. Lawrence

Visit the historic Basilica of St. Lawrence.  This historic building was built in 1905 and designed by Raphael Guastavino.  The art and architecture are breathtaking. Thankfully in more recent years it has been outfitted with very cool A/C.  Most days the Basilica is open for self guided tours, just check the schedule so you don’t show up during mass or someone’s wedding.

Enjoy the Cinema

We all know you can count on a movie theater for nice cool AC.  Check out the Fine Arts Theater’s selection of art and independent films.  Try a matinee and save wandering around downtown for the cooler evening hours.  Click here for current show schedule.

Enjoy a moment of Ecstasy

The Chocolate Fetish has been handcrafting artisan chocolates in downtown Asheville since 1986.  You can count on the AC always being cranked up to keep the overwhelming selection of chocolates happy.  If you really want to cool off try one of their Chocolate Covered Frozen Bananas.  Available in milk or dark chocolate with or without pecans Frozen Chocolate Covered Bananas are a healthier option than ice cream when you are craving a frozen summertime treat.  Be sure to walk around back through the Haywood Park Hotel’s air conditioned atrium and see the chocolatiers creating the delectable treats.  Tours are also available with more info here.

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Enjoy a Splash

Who says playing in fountains is just for kids?  When the heat index is nearing 100 degrees an old fashioned romp in the fountain is the perfect way to cool off.  Visit Splasheville, an interactive water fountain at Pack Square Park.  Let the summer sun dry you off while relaxing on the rolling green field in the park.  Visit during a special event and you’ll be treated to free live music as well.   The fountain generally runs daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. April through November.

Enjoy a moment of retail therapy

Downtown Asheville is full of unique locally owned places to shop.  What better way to spend a hot day downtown than exploring the shops located inside the air conditioned historic building of the Grove Arcade.   Most shops are opened 6 days a week 11-6 and there are many delicious restaurants close by.

Cool off in The Grove Arcade Asheville, NC

Grove Arcade

Top 5 Scenic Drives near Asheville, NC

Top 5 Scenic Drives near Asheville, NC Paired with Chocolate Fetish Chocolates.

A favorite way to enjoy the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains is to take scenic drive near Asheville, NC.  Why not enhance the experience with a moment of chocolate ecstasy?  Here are some suggestions for scenic drives near Asheville, NC and the perfect chocolates to pair them with for a truly transcendent Asheville chocolate experience.

 

Blue Ridge Parkway

Scenic Drive near Asheville, NC

Often regarded as one of America’s most scenic roads, the Blue Ridge Parkway offers unmatched, spectacular mountain scenery. Weather you drive north or south on the Parkway from Asheville you’ll find your self reaching heights. Much like the Mountain Sunrise Truffle it’s all about the journey, so go slow, stop frequently and enjoy the blend of bright orange citrus zest and European dark chocolate.

 

Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway

Western North Carolina Scenic Drives

Nationally recognized for it’s scenic drive this winding 79-mile route has surprises around every corner. The Forest Heritage Scenic Byway is also named the Copperhead Loop by motorcyclists who love all the curves. Curves reminiscent of the loops found on our darkest dark chocolate truffle, the After Midnight. With a blend of four high cocoa content chocolates dipped in a special EXTRA dark blend. The taste is pure, unadulterated, and delicious.

 

Mt. Mitchell Scenic Byway

Asheville Chocolate Rounds

Starting at the top of Mt. Mitchell, drive 52 miles among the peaks and valleys of Yancey and Madison counties through the Toe River Valley and Burnsville. This area is a mecca for artists with many galleries and artist studios. But why just  look at art when you can taste it? This decadent disc of dark or milk chocolate is hand decorated with a colorful Blue Ridge Mountain Scene and finished with a white chocolate hand piped, “Asheville, NC.”

 

Newfound Gap Road

Newfound Gap Road and truff

Drive the very popular U.S. Highway 441 through Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Cherokee. First stop should be the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum. Then drive 18 miles and climb 3,000 feet to Newfound Gap on the Tennessee border and enjoy the floral beauty much like the Blossom Truffle. This rich dark chocolate center is delicately flavored with lemon zest, a touch of ginger and a hint of saffron, then encased in dark chocolate couverture. You’ll be pleased to find a crystallized violet petal adorning the peak of this treat.

 

Waterfall Byway: US Highway 64

Waterfall Byway and truff

Drive 98 miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains, through charming towns and by plenty of beautiful waterfalls. Begin in Chimney Rock and travel west on U.S. Highway 64 by Lake Toxaway and through Cashiers and Highlands. Stop at roadside waterfalls Dry Falls and Bridal Veil as you enter the Cullasaja River Gorge and enjoy the shimmering water as it cascades. Our Diamond Griottine will pair perfectly with this sight. As you bite through the sparkling silver dusted dark chocolate you’ll find that the interior liquid white chocolate ganache will burst forth and begin to dribble down your chin.  Enjoy this treat in one bite and savor the French brandied cherry that lays within.

 

6 Fun Things to do in Asheville in Spring!

While every season is beautiful in Asheville spring is definitely one of my favorites.  It may not offer the majestic grandeur of falls leaf season but along with the subtle beauty of soft green buds on trees come less crowds and less brush and briars to wade through while hiking in the woods.  Here are 6 fun things to do in Asheville in spring that you may not be able to do, or enjoy quite as much during other seasons.

A Dahlia sculpted from chocolate. As beautiful as it is delicious.

Check out some amazing flowers at the North Carolina Arboretum.

The North Carolina Arboretum offers a variety of ways to enjoy springs blooms.  You could check out the Western North Carolina Orchid Society’s Annual Show on March 29th and 30th, or the Dahlia and Mum show on May 10th, or just stroll around the cultivated gardens and hiking trails.  Whatever you decide to do at the Arboretum will be very affordable as admission is just $12.00 per vehicle (even to the plant shows!).

Hike!
The wonderful thing about early spring hiking in Asheville is the dense underbrush and foliage hasn’t had a chance to grow yet so everywhere you hike you can still get a nice view.  Save the mountain balds like Black Balsam and Max Patch for summer and fall and get out now to enjoy the last few moments of winter and spring views while you can!  A favorite close to town hike I recommend that will afford nice pre-leaf views is Rattlesnake Lodge.  An added bonus of this hike is that its access is not on the Blue Ridge Parkway which is often still closed this time of year.  Other good spring views can be found all over Hickory Nut Gorge.  I recommend hiking the Florence Nature Preserve a recently opened section of trail managed by the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy.

Zip Line at Navitat.

Beat the summer crowds and explore the forest in a new exciting way!  Navitat, located a short drive north of Asheville, features an amazing zip line experience including sky bridges and rappelling.  A great way to enjoy the outdoors and catch some mountain views… especially fun for kids.

Everything in our Easter display is edible! The “desert sand” is made of brown sugar, graham crackers crumbs, and finely ground chocolate. Maybe we should call it “dessert sand?”

Check out the Easter Displays at The Chocolate Fetish.

Occasionally spring can be a little rainy in Asheville so when your outdoor adventures are stifled by April showers come downtown and check out the Easter displays at The Chocolate Fetish.  From chocolate bunnies riding motorcycles down a road made of sprinkles to a Cowboy bunny shoot out in a brown sugar dessert our whimsical chocolate bunnies and hand decorated Easter Eggs are sure to bring out the kid in everyone.  While you’re here be sure to walk around to the back and check out the chocolatiers at work in our glassed in kitchen.  If you’re lucky you’ll get to see one of our talented artist/chocolatiers hand sculpting a one of a kind Smash Cake or Chocolate Sculpture.  Best hours to see chocolatiers at work are between 11 and 3.
Enjoy a meal on an Asheville Patio.
Once summer’s heat soaks in and droves of tourists descend on Asheville enjoying a meal al fresco losses its allure.  A cool spring day with ample sun shine affords the perfect opportunity to enjoy an outdoor meal in one of Asheville’s myriad patio dining establishments.  For patios with great atmosphere and cocktails I recommend The Southern or Mayfel’s courtyard.  For fabulous food try the patio at Carmel’s.
Attend the Asheville Herbal Festival.
In its 25th year the Asheville Herbal Festival is the place to find all the seedlings and starts you need for your herb and vegetable garden.  Held at the Western North Carolina Farmer’s Market on May 2, 3, and 4 the Herbal Festival hosts a plethora of vendors from around Western North Carolina featuring culinary and medicinal herbs, veggie starts, a beekeeping demonstration, master gardeners and more.  It’s a great place to find a Mother’s Day present (to go along with a box of chocolate from The Chocolate Fetish) and it’s free!

Spiceland’s Time Machine

“Samurai” on display at The Satellite Gallery until March 23rd.

Asheville is a city alive with the arts and The Chocolate Fetish is frequently blessed by the creative energies of local artists.  If you’ve been following our blog and Facebook pages then you have probably heard about talented artist Joshua Spiceland.  In addition to being an artist he is also an art teacher and part time chocolatier.  If you’ve eaten a Sea Salt Caramel from us in the last four years then chances are good his hand helped make it.  We frequently find doodles and works in progress tucked around the shop on there way to other places.


An exhibition of Spiceland’s work is on display at The Satellite Gallery in Asheville until March 23rd.  The show, titled “Time Machine,” features numerous paintings in Spiceland’s eclectic folk art inspired style. Spiceland draws inspiration form many things including art history and music and many works incorporate detailed geometric patterns.  Titles of pieces range from “Fishing for Inspiration”, “Killing Time”, and “These Rooms Have Seen It All.”   In the world of Asheville art this is a must see exhibition and a good chance to get a great deal on some fine art as Spiceland usually prices his art very affordably.  
You can see the show at The Satellite Gallery located at 5 Broadway Street in Downtown Asheville .  The gallery’s hours are 11am – 6 pm Tuesday – Saturday and 11 am – 5 pm on Sunday adn the show will be up until March 23rd.
If you would like to read more about the exhibition or about Spiceland’s art check out the following links:

Pick Your Chocolate Purse!

Hand Sculpted Chocolate Purses.  Yes!  They are as delicious as they are beautiful.

Hand Sculpted Chocolate Purses. Yes! They are as delicious as they are beautiful.

What’s the only thing more exciting than winning a designer hand bag?  Winning a hand sculpted chocolate purse!  We are so excited about an upcoming promotion we are sponsoring with local radio station, Mix 96.5!  The promotion, “Pick Your Purse” begins next week and gives 96 people the chance to win great prizes including $1000 cash, designer handbags, hand sculpted chocolate purses, massages and more!  I know your excited to hear more about the chocolate purses… but hold on a second while I tell you all about how “Pick Your Purse” works and how you can win $1000 which may actually be better than winning a hand sculpted chocolate purse… although then again, maybe not.

Starting next Monday you can go to Mix 96.5’s website and register to qualify.  Then listen to 96.5 and if you hear your name called out call to claim your spot as a finalist.  On Saturday, December 7th join us at Paramount Kia in Asheville for your chance to win any number of great prizes, and taste some special chocolate samples.  At the event there will be a reverse raffle with the final 12 names called getting to pick one of a dozen designer handbags for their prize.  When all 12 finalists have selected their purses they will open them together and one lucky winner will find $1000 stuffed inside.  Everyone that qualifies as a finalist will win some sort of prize, it may be a gift card from The Chocolate Fetish, or a free massage or facial from Massage Envy, or any number of other fabulous prizes.

Here you can see the first stage of creating chocolate purses.  Later I will add handles, buckles, buttons and other embellishments, all made out of chocolate of course!

Here you can see the first stage of creating chocolate purses. Later I will add handles, buckles, buttons and other embellishments, all made out of chocolate of course!

Winners’ number 13, 14 and 15 will each get to choose from three Chocolate purse sculptures.  You can’t stuff it full of all your miscellaneous paraphernalia but you can eat the entire decadently delicious thing, if you can bring yourself to destroy it.  Each chocolate purse is made entirely from our high quality custom blended chocolates and each one is a unique one of a kind edible masterpiece.

So which would you rather have?  A one of a kind edible chocolate purse or a designer handbag filled with $1000?

Mix 96.5 Website  http://mix965asheville.com/

The Southern Highlands Craft Guild Show

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This weekend at The Asheville Civic Center (I’m supposed to call it US Cellular Center but I just can’t bring myself to do it) is the Southern Highlands Craft Guild Show.  In my humble opinion this is one of the best Craft Shows in the country, and we’re blessed to have it on our doorstep.  This is a juried show representing high quality art and focusing on traditional Appalachian crafts like pottery, weaving, woodworking and blacksmithing.

The Southern Highland Craft Guild represents over 1000 craftspeople in 293 counties and 9 southeastern states. It operates five retail craft shops and two annual craft expositions which represent the Guild members’ work. These shows occur in July and October and have been an event in the Appalachian mountain region since 1948.

A ticket to the Craft Show will cost you $8.00 but it is money well spent.  Even if  you don’t buy anything (which I’m sure you’ll l be tempted to do) it’s a wonderful opportunity to check out some of our region’s most talented artisans and even get a chance to meet them and talk to them about their work.  There is also ample entertainment with live demonstrations and traditional mountain music.  Just walking by the Civic Center (US Cellular Center) you can watch Dede Styles spinning yarn and practicing natural dyeing techniques.

If you’ve been debating about whether to make a visit to Asheville this weekend, I strongly encourage it.   Not only can you visit the Craft Show but the leaves are also starting to turn and its shaping up to be a beautiful weekend.  And with the government back up and running all the services and campgrounds on the Blue Ridge Parkway are open again.  While you’re here don’t forget to swing by and taste a little fall.  Our seasonal Pumpkin Pie Truffles and Maple Walnut Caramel Cups are not to be missed!

The Craft Fair runs through Sunday.  For more info visit http://bit.ly/cVyCLc

The Asheville Dining Scene: Isa’s Bistro

I wear a lot of different hats in my life; mother, business manager, artist, chocolatier, and food lover to name a few.  I’m not a restaurant critic, but I love to explore Asheville’s unique and diverse culinary options and occasionally I’ll share my adventures with you.  Recently I’ve had my eye on our newest neighbor, Isa’s Bistro.  For many years their location at the corner of Battery Park and Haywood Street was held by The Flying Frog and since the Frog closed a few years ago the space has rotated from empty to unsuccessful restaurant.  I was excited when this spring the owner’s of the Haywood Park Hotel, Tony and Isa Fraga, opened their own restaurant concept here, Isa’s Bistro.

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They have done a beautiful job remodeling the old choppy space with an elegant and spacious dining room featuring art from Fraga’s personal collection.  They have opened up a lot of the windows including a window through to the hotel lobby giving the whole place a much brighter more welcoming feel.  Most importantly the newly opened dining room gives even more vantage points from which to people watch as this is one of the best places in Asheville for people watching. Isa Fraga explained to me that a unique feature of the dining room is that there is natural light coming from almost 360 degrees and that every table has a view to the street… like I said, excellent people watching.  Isa also explained to me that they tried to preserve as much of the buildings original architecture as possible, they opted out of putting in a drop ceiling so that the original architecture is exposed.

I’ve only had the opportunity to visit for lunch a couple of times and the food is promising.  A recent meal there produced a wonderfully delicious seared salmon and I enjoyed a rather yummy and memorable side of bean salad at another lunch.  I really appreciate when a chef puts as much time and attention into creating a side as a main dish.  I look forward to seeing the different menus the chef creates as they promise a seasonally changing menu.  For obvious reasons, I haven’t tried dessert yet, but I do look forward to an opportunity to sample the dinner menu. Maybe I’ll remember to tone down my chocolate eating that day so I can try dessert; online reviews say that it is good.

One of the best services they have to offer, and a rare treat in downtown Asheville, is free valet parking.  Just pull up to the Haywood Park Hotel entrance and a friendly member of the hotel bell staff with take care of your car.  While your car is neatly tucked away in the garage I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if you made a quick visit to the neighboring Chocolate Fetish to take home a late night indulgence (just don’t tell them I recommended that J).

For more information about Isa’s Bistro and to check out their menu http://www.isasbistro.com/