Friday, July 22, 2011

Smithfield, Virginia - Hams, History, Hospitality & HeART

Soon after the town of Smithfield, Virginia was established in 1752, the succulent amber colored dry-salt hams made from peanut-fed hogs started a tradition that would make Smithfield, Virginia famous the world over. Smithfield is located on the Pagan River which feeds directly into the James River. A short trip along the scenic Colonial Parkway to the Jamestown/Scotland Ferry, a relaxing 20-minute free ferry ride across the beautiful James River, and a lovely country drive through Surry County brings you to the heart of downtown Smithfield, Virginia. The Historic District is the hub, where bustling art galleries and specialty shops, town offices and historic buildings coexist peacefully among the quaint Gothic, stately Colonial and sprawling Victorian homes. The river takes center stage at the entrance to the historic district where area icon, Smithfield Station, holds the spotlight with its replica Victorian Coast Guard Station hotel, restaurant, marina and lighthouse. Just across the street, is one of three convenient entrances to Smithfield's newest attraction - Windsor Castle Park. This gorgeous, 209-acre park includes over 4 miles of scenic woodland trails., a state-of-the-art kayak/canoe launch, a dog park, picnic areas and a mountain bike path. Other historic attractions include St. Lukes (c 1632), Boykin's Tavern, the Old Courthouse of 1750, Fort Boykin, Historic Fort Huger, and the Schoolhouse Museum, an African-American History Museum of Public Education.

And of course, Smithfield is the Ham Capital of the World so great dining abounds with something to please every taste bud, from the Historic Smithfield Inn, riverside dining at Smithfield Station, to a gourmet bakery, international tea shop and an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. Be sure to stop by the Isle of Wight Museum with its overview of local history and most notable artifact - the oldest cured ham.

Plan a trip around one of the many weekly events the area offers -from free outdoor concerts to a monthly arts stroll. The ferry crossing, which connects Jamestown to Scotland is a great introduction to the area. When you stand at the bow, it's easy to imagine the excitement felt by our early colonists as they sailed the James River. We're hoping to take this trip later this summer. You can always order some Smithfield Ham from our website,

Thursday, July 7, 2011

An Elegant Way to Celebrate National Ice Cream Month

While flipping through Food & Wine magazine the other day I came across a recipe for Apple-Butter Ice Cream served with Gingersnap cookies. Mmmm, I thought, that sounds interesting. It reminds me of the wonderfully delicious satisfying combination of Apple Pie and Ice Cream. If you crave the combination but don’t want to turn on your oven to make an apple pie in this hot weather, you might find this a great summer substitute. Also, by the way, July is National Ice Cream Month, so here’s a treat to celebrate it. Ronald Reagan designated National Ice Cream Month in 1984. He recognized the popularity of ice cream in the United States and also appointed the third Sunday in July as National Ice Cream Day.

Try this recipe using our incredibly smooth and perfectly spiced Graves Mountain Apple Butter: Apple-Butter Ice Cream with Ginger-Chocolate Ganache
1 pint vanilla ice cream
1/3 cup apple butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
Gingersnaps, for serving

Soften the vanilla ice cream in the microwave at high power for 10 seconds. Transfer the softened ice cream to a medium bowl and flatten it with a rubber spatula. Spread the apple butter on top and fold the ice cream over the apple butter 2 or 3 times. Freeze the ice cream until it is firm, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chopped chocolate at high power in 10-second bursts. Whisk the heavy cream into the chocolate. Put the grated ginger in a fine strainer set over the chocolate ganache and press to extract as much of the ginger juiced as possible. Whisk the ginger juice into the chocolate ganache. For a caramel-like sauce, substitute dulce de leche for the melted chocolate.

Scoop the apple-butter ice cream into bowls, drizzle with the ginger-chocolate ganache or caramel sauce and serve with gingersnaps.