Friday, December 6, 2013

West Chester Raves...

I feel so lucky to live near West Chester. It's a fabulous town to stroll around, with a great selection of restaurants and boutiques. You could easily spend a few days, exploring them all. I discovered the town when my kids started going to West Chester Friends School, a Quaker elementary school in the heart of the borough. We were embraced in this wonderful community and love the school and the foundation it gave our boys.

After I dropped them off at school, I would explore the town, walking the various streets and alleys. I started going to the dry cleaner in town and have now been going there for over 15 years. I love Eunice, the lovely Korean lady who runs it. We've shared experiences of raising boys over the years.  She even brought me back souvenirs when she returned from a trip to Korea, after learning I had lived there.

When I took a hiatus from working, I began taking photos of town and began painting watercolors. All my early work was of West Chester architecture. I've done several commissions of some of the lovely old homes in the borough.

As the years have gone by, I feel like this has become "my" town, becoming a regular in many of the shops and restaurants. There is a special feeling when you walk into an establishment and are greeted like an old friend. I rarely go to a mall to shop; they are so impersonal and sterile.

There are quite a few fooddie shops in town that I love. I've mentioned Eclat,, the best chocolate in the world, owned by Chris Curtain. There is also Carlino's,, a wonderful Italian market with a great cheese, italian specialties and great bread selection. Taste of Olive carries vinegars and oils; my favorites are their fig vinegar, which is excellent over roasted vegetables and their truffle salt, which I put on everything from omelettes to spinach to popcorn. All three of these places have websites, so you don't have to be local to experience them. Eclat chocolate in particular makes a truly spectacular gift.

There is a newcomer in town that I wanted to highlight on the corner of High and Miner Streets, called Dia Dolce This is a cupcake shop and coffee bar extraordinaire! The baker won the Food Network's Cupcake Wars. Now I have to admit that I am not normally a cupcake fan, but after trying her's, I'm a convert. The flavors are very creative and delicious. I have brought them home, telling myself that I will only eat half at a time, but my self control is lost after the first bite; I end up devouring the whole cupcake.

The coffee bar/store itself has a wonderful funky vibe. The coffee is first rate and it is a great place to sit and watch the town walk by, with several seats looking out of the window. Also, be sure to check out the has a fabulous hand painted mural of West Chester.  Their hours are 7:30am-7pm(T-Sat) and 7:30am-2:30pm on Sunday, but they are experimenting with staying open late on the weekends which I think is brilliant. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, after we've had dinner or happy hour in town, my husband and I would stop at the D'Ascenzio's for gelato, but they close from October to sometime in the spring and we would love to grab a cupcake at this time of year! In fact if you are heading to the Christmas parade tonight...stop by. I know they are open!

They say that the "urban suburbs" are experiencing a resurgence and with West Chester it's easy to understand why. It's an architecturally lovely town, with great restaurants and shops and every thing is walkable. Now all they need is a Trader Joe's in town and it would be absolutely perfect!

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