Words by Allyson Clements
“Let me take you down, ‘cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields.”
The unfamiliar chill meeting my Alabama skin was the cherry on top of my 900 mile move. In a town where I didn’t know hardly anyone (much less the ways of the streets), the best words I could’ve come across were, “Try our homemade hot chocolate.” Written on a small chalkboard in the middle of a sidewalk in Ghent, this beacon led me right in.
When I entered Strawberry Fields, I was greeted with smiling faces and swallowed by colors. I loved the comfort of the shop, backed by chalkboard menus and fresh flowers hanging on the walls. I browsed the selection of smoothies, juices, and gelato, but my heart was set on hot chocolate. It was not disappointed. I drank it slowly, enjoying every decadent sip. Made with real chocolate and homemade marshmallows, it was basically heaven. Cozy, quaint, and warm, it made Norfolk, Virginia feel a bit more like home.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with the owner Heather Wynn and digging up the roots of Strawberry Fields over a cup of Mascarpone Nutella gelato. She gave me a little inside scoop on the recipes… A few flavors stick around, but each day introduces a new delight. The recipes are created by Heather herself, and it gets way more scientific than you might imagine. Batch after batch, and each one better than the last. The flavors rely a lot on the seasons, and more importantly the weather. Fall and winter need comfort flavors to keep your soul warm when it’s cold out—but when the sun comes out, prepare yourself to delight in the fruity fresh flavors of gelato and sorbets like lemonade, blood orange, and strawberry.
Growing up with entrepreneurial parents, Heather was no stranger to comfort in small businesses. She observed and learned from their genuine interactions with customers, and wanted that same authenticity to shine through with her own experiences. It was in her college days of working at her folks’ bagel shop with her husband, Curt, that they began experimenting with fresh fruit recipes in smoothies. After some research in the world of gelato, they started trying their hand.
In May of 2012 the location in Ghent became available. Some might call it fate, but Strawberry Fields called it home. I call it magic.