WILKES-BARRE — Chocolate. Check.
Laughs over tea and finger sandwiches. Check.
Victorian etiquette. Check.
Saturday was the first day of the two-day “A Chocolate Lover’s Valentine Tea” at the Frederick Stegmaier Mansion on South Franklin Street.
Proprietor of the mansion Joseph Matteo said “approximately 110 to 120 guests” will come to the tea events.
“We can hold up to 60 (for each event),” he said.
Mary T. Lukas and other waitstaff served a four-course meal, while hostess Jennifer Ochman showed off antique Valentine’s Day cards and talked about the history of Valentine’s Day.
“The one has a price tag, about 50 cents,” Ochman said, showing off a 3D Valentine from the 19th century. “When you think miners only made about a $1 a day, 50 cents is a lot.”
Ochman explained that “from her research,” she found that that Valentine’s Day started in the 17th century and became more commercialized in the 19th century.
“They started off being handmade,” Ochman explained. “Some had glitter, some had feathers.”
In the kitchen, Kim Kolcko was supplying the dishes Lukas was serving. Kolcko explained that each of the courses had chocolate somewhere on the dish.
In the eating areas, the most talked about dish was the second course, which was designed with a chocolate-covered bacon rose on the plate. Of course, the day was a tea event and the star of the show was a chocolate tea from The Republic of Teas.
Jadi Willison, of Forty Fort, came “for something fun to do on a cold Saturday.”
Her tablemate Heather Schlingman, of Hanover Township, came because she had been “curious.”
Dressed in reds and blacks, skirts and appropriate-for-the-holiday outfits, one table of eight women were “staying festive.”
“We’re Valentine-y,” tea guest Kim Albert, of Hanover Township, said.
Guests said the day had exceeded expectations.
“(Before sitting) they let you explore the mansion,” Willison said. “It’s one of the gems of Wilkes-Barre.”
“(The food) was excellent,” Hanover Township resident Pat Wesley said. “(If your coming Sunday,) come hungry.”