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US: Florence, SC – Go Nuts for Pecans in Florence and Snag some Free Swag

April is National Pecan month so why not celebrate by following a culinary trail dedicated to the pecan.

Julie Belle's - White Russian Pecan PieFlorence is home to the South Carolina Pecan Trail, showcasing 17 local restaurants and specialty shops offering pecan dishes or products, putting pecans in the spotlight. From pecan-encrusted grouper to pecan pie martinis, those venturing on the trail will experience a variety of originality.Rebel Pie - Danish Pizza

Pick up a passport at the visitors center, 3290 W. Radio Drive, or any of the participating restaurants to start the journey. Earn a stamp in the passport by feasting on the featured pecan item at each establishment.

Pecan Pie Martini - Victors

Return your passport to the Visitors Center in person or by mail for some sweet Pecan Trail swag. Show up with four stamps, and receive a charming metal nutcracker. Eight stamps will get you a drawstring bag and the nutcracker. Present a fully stamped passport and  walk away with a T-shirt, drawstring bag and the nutcracker. SC Pecan Trail


Get your stamps and enjoy tasty pecan offerings at these restaurants and specialty shops:

Block and Vino: Seasonal praline pecan cheesecake; candied pecan brie-stuffed chicken

Clay Pot Coffee Shop: Signature BIG cookie: Southern Maple Pecan Oatmeal Cookie

Dolce Vita: Double chocolate chip pecan muffin

Freeman’s Bakery: Assortment of baked goods, including cakes, Danish pastries

Julian Belle’s: White Russian pecan pie

The Library: Bourbon pecan pie

Rebel Pie Wood-fired Pizza: Danish pizza

Red Bone Alley: Chicken salad with pecans; apple crisp; chocolate chip cookie pie

Seminar Brewing: Pecans Gone Wild smoked brown ale

Struttin’ Turkey: Turkey salad with cranberries and pecans

Top Hat Special-Teas: Top Hat Pecan Scones

Town Hall: Braised oxtail ravioli, local sweet potato puree, espelette-spiced pecans and sage oil

Tubb’s Shrimp and Fish Co.: Sweet potato cheesecake

Venus Restaurant and Catering: Pecan (Belgian) waffle, Southern pecan pancakes

Victors: Pecan pie martini

Wholly Smokin’: Goat cheese salad, features warm goat cheese patty encrusted with local pecans

Young Plantations: Variety of flavored pecans

Location: Visitor Information Center, 3290 W. Radio Drive, Florence Center Upper Level, Florence, SC 29501
Time: Daily 9am – 5pm
Tel: 800-325-9005

Ghent Birthplace of Some Belgian Chocolates

There must have been great chocolate DNA in their blood because famous Belgian chocolates brands Daskalides and Leonidas were created by family members from Ghent, Belgium.

Leonidas Daskalidès or Leonidas Kestekides (1876 – 1954) was born in Turkey and he was the founder of Leonidas chocolates in Belgium making pralines (chocolate shells with soft fillings) famous.

In 1910, he was a member of the Greek delegation from the US competing at the 1910 World Fair in Brussels. He won a bronze medal for his chocolate confection, and a gold medal for his patisserie. On a return visit in 1913 ( World Fair in Ghent), he met a young woman from Brussels and settled permanently in Belgium. He opened tea-rooms in Brussels, Ghent and Blankenberge, and the business expanded from there.

In 1935, Basile Kestekides, the founder’s nephew succeeded the founder and created a whole range of new chocolates, including the well-known ‘Manon’ of Leonidas. Still to this day the most popular chocolates are the manon, manon café, gianduja, dressé noisette, manon blanc and manon blanc café.

There are 350 Leonidas shops in Belgium and and almost 1500 throughout the world in over 50 countries. Leonidas  is still privately owned by family

In 1931, a Greek couple Daskalidès-Kestikidès opened a confectionary in the centre of Ghent. Home made pralines by Daskalidès become famous and their tearooms and chocolate shops grew.

During the sixties his son Jean advised him to devote himself to the production of luxury pralines for connoisseurs which led them to conquer markets abroad. In 1987, Daskalidès was  awarded in France the prestigious Laurier d’Or de la Qualité from France thanks to the exceptional quality of chocolate, the beautiful shape and the delicious taste

Dr. Jean Daskalides became famous for his chocolates under the names Daskalidès and Leonidas. He was also a gynecologist, film director, jazz musician, hospital director and lecturer at the University of Ghent.

You can buy Daskalides and Leonidas chocolate in Ghent or anywhere in Belgium or nowadays, all over the world.