Sweet Love Stories

by Kaki Flynn 

Managing Editor
Taste Magazine
(Food & Restaurant Supplement to Jacksonville Magazine)

This is a compilation of stories that ran in a romance issue of Jacksonville Magazine, that includes stories about love that range from serious - a woman who finds love when the man who would become the love of her life started coming to her cupcake shop after his wife died of cancer - to just plain fun stories like the "10 Hottest Men of Jacksonville."

Food may be the quickest way to a man's heart - or a woman's heart - as I found out after traveling the city in search of deliciously romantic desserts. Every chef I spoke to talked about putting a piece of themselves into the food they make. If that's true, I wanted to hear their own personal experiences with love. I found five desserts created by some top chefs who are passionate about what they do and know how to put a little love in everything they prepare.

Erika Davis
Bravo's Top Chef, Ponte Vedra Inn & Club

I like to make couple’s chocolate boxes, and put engagement rings in them. I don’t have a sweetheart now, but if I did, I would make him chocolate cake and ice cream. No matter what, my mom, who lives two blocks from me, will always be my top sweetheart. Every Valentine’s Day I make her sugar flowers and chocolate bon-bons, and have them delivered to her.

Anita Adams
Let Them Eat Cake

My boyfriend Bernie and I met 10 years ago, when he was a customer who would come in and buy my chocolate chunk cookies. I closed that shop and worked for awhile in other businesses. When I opened my own shop again, Bernie came back and started buying cookies again. I asked him out to dinner. He once owned the Wine Warehouse on Edgewood Avenue, so people think we are the perfect couple—wine and cupcakes.

Dylan Hauge
III Forks

Actually, I just got engaged. I proposed in the first place we met, the Great Southern Club in Mississippi. She was the sous chef and I was the banquet chef. On a recent trip, I told her we were just going to stop by the restaurant to look around. We walked in, and I dropped down on one knee and proposed. Every Valentine’s Day, we cook together. A favorite is a chocolate soufflé with blood-orange crème anglaise.

Reba Richardson

One day, I noticed a bottle of champagne and balloons in the garage. I thought it was odd, but didn’t pay much attention. I forgot about it until that night, when my husband proposed. Turns out the champagne and balloons were just a freebie that came with the ring. A romantic night for us is heading out to Cumberland Island on our six-packt to enjoy the sunset and the wild horses.

Nancy Slatsky
Azurea Restaurant at One Ocean Resort

My most romantic moment doesn’t involve a gourmet dessert but candy bars. One Valentine’s Day, my husband John handmade me a poster. He wrote me a love story, using glued-on candy bars as part of the words. “You are worth a Thousand Grand to me. I would travel the Milky Way for you..” Of course, I ate all the candy bars.

Nancy Lasseter, who fell in love with wine making after a day spent crushing grapes
with a family friend, and her husband John. A great love story.
I called the Lasseter Winery, and asked if they had a movie that they suggested would go with the wine. The person I spoke with told me Cars was the perfect date movie. I asked him if he was completely sure that was a good idea, since I was going to have to find a way to write Cars, a bottle of wine, and a date in barely 200 words. Add that I don't drink alcohol -  meaning I couldn't taste the wine -  and it was an entertaining challenge:

Cars is a fun first-date movie because it offers romance and humor—and who doesn’t love Disney?

Pour a glass of Lasseter Family wine (lasseterfamilywinery.com), and tell the story of the winery, started by John Lasseter, director of Cars, and his wife Nancy.

The 2006 St. Émilion Style Red Blend ($40) is a good choice.

For the friendship date, talk about how the wine was inspired by a conversation with friends in Paris.

Laugh over the ‘Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) one-liners in the movie.

Sparks flying?

Lean in and tell her John and Nancy strolled along the Seine and shared a kiss on the Pont des Arts bridge.

Show your playful side by suggesting a game of “spin the bottle” once the wine is gone.

If all ends well, plan to see Cars 2 together.



Tim and Barbara Felver, owners of the French Pantry, moved to Jacksonville 22 years ago after studying under two now world famous chefs, Wolfgang Puck and Nancy Silverton.

This was in Los Angeles back in the ’80s, “when Puck just owned Spago’s; and Nancy was his head pastry chef, no Food Network stuff,” says Tim.

The pair met and fell in love before that, while working at Del Webb’s Mountain Shadows in Arizona where she served drinks and he was a banquet chef.

Friends flew them out here to cook for a special occasion, and they stayed. They now bake for Ruth’s Chris, Orsay, Biscottis,b.b.’s, the Florida Yacht Club, Taverna, and the Lodge.

If you catch him, chat with Tim about the art of making French bread, like where to buy flour (Colorado and Nebraska have the best U.S. mills), or why you wait 30 minutes before serving bread out of the oven (because it lets the gas release).

The Pantry is only open from 11-2 on weekdays.

With lines frequently out the door, and no plans to expand hours so that “we have time to spend with our kids,” says Tim, there can be up to an hour wait.

Favorite sandwiches are ones prepared with boule, a rustic farm bread made with a whole-wheat dough in a kneading process that takes two days.

Best-selling pastries include d’auberge, a yellow cake with coffee cream and pecans.

One of the unique salt blends from the Salt store on Amelia Island. For around $20, get a sample of 5 different salts.
According to the book Salt by Mark Kurlansky, the Romans called a man in love “salax,” literally "in a salted state.”

If that’s true, then the way to his heart may start with a trip to Salt located in the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island

A stop in the store makes a great place to start a romantic date. Wander around the Salt store before heading into dinner at the restaurant. Everything from the book Salt to the hand-carved wooden salt servers made by local artists make great conversation pieces.

If you want to cook for him at home, pick up one of the exotic-looking Himalayan salt plates that look like a piece of marble, but are actually a large slab of salt carved out of a mountainside. 

You cook right on the surface of the slab after heating it up in an oven or over a grill.

The tablet, which typically costs around $30, adds a subtle salty taste to the food.

Salt is the only rock we eat, so another benefit is the minerals passed along by the slab. Salt is naturally antibacterial, so just rinse with water to clean. 

The over twenty different types of salt include Peruvian Pink Salt, which is harvested from a natural spring located 10,000 feet high in the mountains of Peru, and Hiwa Kai with its stunning black color and silky texture.

The Salt cooking school is an island favorite, and makes the perfect anniversary gift.

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