As February has arrived, most of us are ready to finish our New Year's diet, and fewer bouts with weather bid us escape from winter routines. Fortune finds us an hour away at a destination that affords not only shopping opportunities, but also several "sweet shoppes" to savor as Valentine's Day is on the horizon. Let us set sights on Harrison County's Eastpointe and Meadowbrook Mall areas to not only survey spring fashion, but also indulge in some caloric activity that will be long remembered.
Our biggest challenge will be the decision of which bakery offers the best goods. After visiting four outstanding choices, I am able to describe highlights of each and hope I can be helpful. If sampling all four, as I chose to do, you surely will have enough treats to last a week or two, as so many items will be tempting.
The Stonewood exit off of Interstate 79 is the place to start. Rolling into Nutter Fort on West Virginia Route 20, Bonnie Belle's Pastries operates a full-service bakery, as it has for many years. Special mention must be made of its old-fashioned raisin-filled cookies, while dozens of varieties of cupcakes beg for a buy. Cakes and cookies are also readily available, and tables with chairs invite taste-testing during your visit.
Photo courtesy of Shannon Bennett Campbell
Cookies and cupcakes galore greet patrons as they step into Bonnie Belle’s Pastries in Nutter Fort. Bavarian creme, red velvet, cherry nut, German chocolate, lemon and raspberry are a few of the cupcake favorites.
Continue on Route 20 to U.S. Route 50 and follow the signs to Bridgeport's Eastpointe Drive where Panera Bread is near the entrance. This is my area coffee favorite, and their pecan rolls and cheese danish are wonderful additions to your confectionary spree. A variety of breads and bagels set prominently on shelves with sandwiches and soups available for a quick lunch.
Feeling fancy? Take the road to Bridgeport and turn right just past the post office to find Provence Market only a couple hundred feet beyond. A special touch of elegance accompanies any meal, and sights on the menu will differ from the norm with seafood, meats and cheese combinations that tantilize tastebuds and provide a unique dining experience. If you are able to find room for a dessert, several are available, but a take-home variety would help you extend this dining moment and re-live the ambiance.
Just past the Benedum Center in downtown Bridgeport, Almost Heaven Desserts steals your sweet tooth. Wall-to-wall cheesecakes (more than 20, I counted), cookies, cupcakes, blackberry pies and cobblers and creme-filled horns are only complemented by fresh-ground coffee that has knock-down aroma. This is also a place with sit-down amenities, so you can sample all the treats while decisions are made as to which qualify for take-home status. Your Valentine will be impressed with a visit here - my guarantee.
As we approach the Valentine's Day celebration, I am reminded of a popular book from my college days, "Love Story" by Erich Segal. A famous line from this writer was "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Implied is the recognition that caring for someone calls for compassion, understanding and believing that they always do their best for you. And, conversely, it calls for the other in the relationship to never be purposely mean-spirited or hurtful with their actions.
As we enjoy the sweet treats of the season, let us be mindful of what love asks of us and help others to increase their tolerance and patience. So many in the world strive to be loving people, and their example is one we depend on to transform.
The happiest of Valentine's Days to you, and do not let me know that you missed the chance to chew something more than a diet breakfast bar.