Table Talk: Bethesda's Newest Confection Store

Table Talk: Bethesda's Newest Confection Store

Plus, Silver Spring's Corner Market and gluten free desserts

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Patty and Tom Craver recently opened Henry’s Sweet Retreat in Bethesda. She prefers salty snacks, such as popcorn. His sweet tooth is satisfied by the shop’s Graeter’s ice cream sundae. Photo by Laura Chase McGehee

Sweet Life

What first strikes you when you enter Henry’s Sweet Retreat, a candy and confection store that opened on Bethesda’s St. Elmo Avenue in October, is a vast array of seemingly every candy on Earth: Mallo Cups, Zotz, jelly beans of every conceivable color and flavor, Sky Bars, Mary Janes, Chunkys. It takes you back to the time when you had to beg your parents for money and permission to partake. Now you likely have both of those things and restraint becomes the problem.

Bethesda residents Patty and Tom Craver are the owners. He is in software sales and she is a former director of sales and marketing for Marriott, who left that job after the second of their three children was born. Once two of the Cravers’ kids were in college, Patty was bored and ready for a full-on project. They hit upon the idea of Henry’s Sweet Retreat (named after Tom’s grandfather) because it was something they thought the Bethesda community lacked. “It’s the kind of place we’d go to when we were on vacation, so we said, ‘Let’s open a place that’s like vacation all the time,’ ” Patty says.  

Pastry chef Stephanie Orantes (whose résumé includes a stint at Black’s Bar & Kitchen in Bethesda) makes all the baked goods in-house, including versions of Pop-Tarts; cheesecake, cakes and pies sold whole or by the slice; cupcakes; cookies; bars; and dreamy fudge in 12 flavors, such as rocky road, chewy praline, cookies ’n’ cream and caramel chocolate nut. Two other big draws are Graeter’s ice cream, a lush super-premium (14 to 16 percent butterfat) brand out of Cincinnati, and a dazzling assortment of chocolate goodies, such as truffles, clusters and dipped pretzels. Another bonus: a mezzanine with table seating for 22, “or 12 to 18 children for a birthday party,” Patty says.

4823 St. Elmo Ave., Bethesda, 240-483-0485,

Rosanne Skirble started selling her Seedy Nutty concoction at a farmers market in Takoma Park and has since expanded her business. Photo by Laura Chase McGehee

Seedy, Nutty, Addictive

Visiting family in Israel in 2011, Silver Spring resident Rosanne Skirble was intrigued by a bark-like, crunchy confection of nuts and seeds on the Passover seder dessert table.

“Passover desserts are gluten-free and not usually great, but this was,” says the 68-year-old freelance environmental reporter. She got the recipe from her cousin and began making it for friends, who encouraged her to start selling it. She perfected the recipe, a mix of peanuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, brown sugar and egg whites. In 2015 she started selling—and soon selling out of—Seedy Nutty at the Crossroads Farmers Market in Takoma Park. She took a 12-week microenterprise training course at the Crossroads Community Food Network to learn how to create a bona fide business, acquiring the various licenses and renting commercial kitchen space. (She operates out of the Meals on Wheels kitchen in Takoma Park.)

Seedy Nutty Original and Seedy Nutty Chocolate come in 4-ounce packages ($5) and Seedy Nutty Crumbles in a 6-ounce jar ($6). They are available at the Crossroads Community Farmers Market (reopens in the spring), AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, Grosvenor Market in Rockville, Whole Foods Market in Pentagon City and, after March 15, online at

The vast selection of products at Corner Market & Pharmacy is brimming with gourmet goodies and practical items. Photo by Laura Chase McGehee

Cornering the Market

Corner Market & Pharmacy—co-owned by Jason Kirsch (also co-owner of Chevy Chase Supermarket) and Ellie Darj (she runs the pharmacy in both markets)—opened in October on Grubb Road in Silver Spring. It occupies 2,000 square feet of space in the small strip mall that houses Parkway Deli and The Daily Dish restaurant, but Kirsch isn’t out to compete with them in terms of prepared foods, only carrying a few of them, like pre-packaged single-serving sushi, wraps and salads. “We want to add to the neighborhood, not take away from other businesses,” Kirsch says. “There’s more to having a neighborhood store than having a store in the neighborhood.” The market is stocked chock full of well-chosen goods, numbering more than 35,000 different items (not including the pharmacy). Here are 10 things that caught our eye:

1. Divino frozen, individual, gelato-stuffed fruit, such as a Black Diamond Plum and an Apulian peach.

2. Illy coffee from Italy, ground and in whole beans.

3. A comprehensive baking section, including King Arthur and Bob’s Red Mill flours and grains, cake-decorating supplies and Simpson’s canned spotted dick sponge pudding with sultanas, a traditional British dessert cake.

4. Good cocktail onions (Sable and Rosenfeld-brand “tipsy” onions in vermouth) for martinis and Gibsons.   

5. Lots of gluten-free and kosher items, including Acme whitefish salad.

6. Kid-centric touches (Chevy Chase Supermarket is strong on this, too) such as mini carts, free Dum Dums lollipops, an assortment of kids’ stickers for sale, as well as festive birthday party decorations.

7. A good selection of in-a-pinch fruits and vegetables, such as avocados, onions, lemons, limes and bananas, plus organic produce from Four Seasons Produce in Pennsylvania, and Eat Smart and Green Giant brand steam-in-the-bag microwavable vegetables.

8. Breads from Canela Bakery in Gaithersburg, such as handcrafted seven-grain loaf, classic oat loaf and French country bread.

9. The Castor & Pollux Organix dog food line.

10. A wide-ranging selection of entertaining and gift supplies, including high-quality decorative cocktail and dinner napkins, taper candles, gift wrap and greeting cards.

8309 Grubb Road, Silver Spring, 301-200-8472,


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