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Leila Case: “It’s a good thing”

Americus has changed over the years since we moved here in the early ‘70s, and has become more sophisticated, especially in the area of places to go and things to do. I’m not implying we didn’t have fabulous activities in which to participate — it was just limited.
Today we have a wide range of events from which to pick and choose, and like Martha Stewart says, “it’s a good thing.”
So as soon as I saw the notice that Bittersweet Bookstore and Coffee House was to host a wine, cheese and chocolate tasting with all proceeds to benefit the Americus-Sumter Arts Council, I knew that we wanted to be there.
For one thing who doesn’t like wine, cheese, and chocolate? Oh, I know perhaps some folks don’t, but these are among my favorite things — especially dark chocolate. Incidentally, I’ve just discovered a new way to combine dark chocolate and coffee — the latter being my real drink of choice. It starts your morning with a zing.
But first things first and that’s the Wine, Cheese and Chocolate tasting last Saturday. On a rating from zero to 10 I give it a 10. It was over-the-top wonderful. We enjoyed every morsel and every sip. A huge thank you to hosts Elena Albamonte and Chuck Faaborg of Bittersweet. The event was Elena’s idea and she wanted all proceeds to go to the Arts Council.
The evening began with the introduction of Sommelier Billy Kravtin of the Atlanta Beverage Co., who introduced everyone to a selection of six different wines beginning with an Italian prosecco, a delightful sparkling wine, to a red California Zinfandel, and concluded with another Italian red sparkling, sweet red wine. They were all good and I didn’t have a favorite — I liked them all. I was amazed at the price points — $11 to $14 a bottle — and they are available at Center Stage Market.
As we sipped our portions of wine we snacked on mouth watering chocolates — Valrhona (64-66 percent) dark; a Valrhona (40 percent) milk chocolate, and a raspberry bon bon — all created by chocolatier Amy Stankous of Richland. The raspberry bon bon was my favorite, hands-down.
Amy moved her chocolate business from the hustle and bustle of Atlanta, saying she and her husband Roman were tired of city life and wanted a quieter, gentler area. How lucky we are to have them in our area. Learn more about Amy’s chocolate by clicking on ww.chocolatesouth.com.
Also included on our plate were delicious cheeses from Sweet Grass Dairy, a Georgia Grown product made in Thomasville and available locally at Center Stage Market.
You would think we had no room for anything else, but we found it when invited by Elena to enjoy the appetizers made by her pastry chef Kelli Taranto. Oh my goodness — so delicious and one ítem was a chocolate creation that called for more. The variation was amazing. Her freshly baked croissants are available every morning at Bittersweet and she has plans to add an almond croissant soon.
The Arts Council is having another fundraiser — Jazz Night on Saturday, March 11. We sure hope to attend. Like last Saturday’s event, the funds will go toward renovating and updating the Art Center building on West Forsyth Street. Another good thing.
Americus has much to offer everyone of all ages from live stage plays and concerts at the historic Rylander Theatre, the Historic Trust’s annual spring auction and dance, and other events benefiting historic preservation, and just recently the Books for Sumter Gala and Night to Shine were extremely successful. No need to sit home and complain that there is nothing to do here. We have plenty to offer.
Yes, Americus has spread her wings and grown in unlimited ways over the years and in my opinion. it’s a good thing.
Among those at the Wine, Cheese and Chocolate tasting were Charles Crisp, Tom and Diane Harrison, Dr. Bagar and Yasmin Hasnain, Therese McCoy, Maggie McCoy, Dr. Ben and Michelle Andrews, Patty Perles, Roman Stankous, Rachel Meir and her husband, Jenna and Derek Huss, Jean Daniel, Rob and Cate Bailey, Anne C. Thomas, Dr. Chris Taranto, Rebecca Jones and friends, Kristin Cherrbboneau, and, of course, the man-who-reads-over-my-shoulder was my escort. Incidentally, Bruce celebrated his birthday surrounded by family at La Hacienda last Sunday evening.

Leila Sisson Case lives in Americus.