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On the road to where the BEST piggies go to be gourmet: Smithfield, Virginia

Smithfield Hams
Smithfield Hams
Photo by Tamar Alexia Fleishman

As Paula Deen - recent new Smithfield Ham maven says: "Hey, Y'all!" Despite the Noreaster, I am in the land of the famous Smithfield Hams: Isle of Wight County, Virginia. I have learned today that Smithfield Hams are made in town and called simply, "Smithfield Hams". The ones made by others in the county are called "Country Hams".

Smithfield's no longer feeding their piggies peanuts, but I found out that another small local company is giving it a go and aging some now. I'll give updates when it's available on the market.

I was happy to be able to experience a waterfront lunch thanks to Smithfield Station, a town favorite that incorporates many local ingredients in its menu. With Smithfield Station, there are some real hidden gems that are standouts on the menu. The Hatteras-style chowder is in a clear, rich broth -- not a roux. The clams in it are large and tender and the broth allows the flavors of the sea to really shine through...genius!

The "Country Dinner" is a terrific deal at $8. Some of the best fried chicken I've ever had (crispy, juicy, lightly seasoned, crunchy), with Smithfield ham, perfectly cooked seasonal veggies and on this day, smashed red potatoes.

Smithfield Station -- in the best tradition of Southern hospitality -- will keep that sweet tea filled all lunch long.

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