but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold!
Do you remember that little rhyme from your childhood? My nana used to sing it to me and I feel like it’s been my mantra. I’m forever grateful for the amazing people I’ve met over the course of my lifetime and continue to meet – who enrich my life in so many ways.
When I was home in May and looking for some food industry folks to invite to one of the City Grit dinners in Columbia, I followed a suggestion from my friend, Angie Mosier, and shot off an email to Emile DeFelice inviting him to join us.
I think you can send an email to almost anyone in America saying that you know Angie Mosier and that person will listen to what you have to say simply because you know Angie – she’s basically the Mayor of America and one of the people that I’m very lucky to know.
Anyway, back to Emile. So I email Emile and he emails back, “Hell yes! I love this! I’m in!”
I knew right there I would love him. And I did – or I do. He’s one of those people that is totally what you see is what you get. No pretense. No bullshit. Just straight up honest.
Emile and his lovely lady, Eme, came to my supper club dinner and within 10 minutes fell into the mix of family and high school friends. By the end of the evening, it felt like we’d known each other forever and we were making plans for them to have me over to their house for dinner. No one ever cooks for me, they say they want to, but then they don’t. But even thought I’d just met Emile, I knew he was serious.
Emile is best known among the foodie contingent for the amazing pork products that come from Caw Caw Creek, his pork farm in SC. This is not your average pork farm. It’s 200 acres of rich land where the pigs can roam, play, eat, and sleep – just one of the reasons why it’s the only certified humane pork farm in the state of South Carolina.
Emile, like Glenn, is producing sustainable products that our ancestors produced and consumed. And like the products at Anson Mills, you can absolutely taste the difference.
I got this country ham from Emile for a dinner in Charleston. Isn’t it a beauty? Though I almost sliced my dad’s hand off trying to cut it – it was so heavy I needed him to help me hold it. But once I finally got the hang of it, I was able to carve off enough meat for the Charleston dinner as well as four giant ziploc bags to bring back to NY. I always wonder what goes through the TSA agents’ minds when they go through my checked bag.
Like I said, most of the food world knows Emile for his pork. But in Columbia, he’s also a local hero for founding the “All-Local Farmer’s Market.”
Columbia's All-Local Farmer's Market is at 711 Whaley Street Columbia from 8 - noon every Saturday
Every Saturday, folks gather at the market for produce, meats, cheeses, and other food products – Anson Mills has a booth there – that are all produced locally. Emile and his team actually curate the vendors, making sure they are truly offering local goods. It’s truly a community affair and I was amazed to see so many folks not just crowded into the market, but settled into the tables on the porch, bags full of fresh goodies nestled at their feet – popping champagne and enjoying ready-made treats.
I’m proud of Emile for what he’s done as a pork producer, but I’m even more excited about what his All-Local Farmer’s Market can do for the culture of Columbia.
And, true to his word, Emile had me over to his house for dinner. It was a lovely evening with his family, Eva Moore from the Free-Times, and Jimmy the author of Eat It, Atlanta. We were all fortunate enough to take part in the debut of the Cow Cow Burger served with okra fries. I wish I could share the recipe for those burgers. Actually I wish I had that burger right now.
Instead, I’ll share this quick recipe for my Croque Madame with Caw Caw Creek Country Ham.
- 1 french bread
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 cups milk
- Whole nutmeg
- Caw Caw Creek Country ham, thinly sliced
- Gruyere, coarsely shredded
- Fresh eggs, fried to your liking
- Preheat over to 400 degrees F.
- Slice bread on the bias into 1 and 1/2 inch slices. Set the slices aside on a non-stick baking sheet to dry out a touch while you make a bechamel – or white sauce.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden sandy color, about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil.
- Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly with wooden spoon or spatula, then remove from heat. Season with salt and grate nutmeg over to taste. Set aside to slightly cool.
- Spread a thick layer of the bechamel over each bread slice. Top with a slice (or a few slices) of country ham. Sprinkle evenly but heavily with cheese.
- Place baking sheet in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese browns.
- Remove from oven, top with fried egg and serve.
Notes: This recipe doesn’t give exact measurements for everything because it’s a personal preference as to how much cheese, sauce, ham you want to add and can be made to feed as many people as you’d like to feed.
What you’ll need: a bread knife, a baking sheet, two saucepans, a whisk, and a wooden spoon or silicone spatula.