Tucked away in the regional food aisles of the 2017 Summer Fancy Food Show was something mighty exciting: an authentic leg of Surryano ham from Edwards Smokehouse of Virginia. As I’ve mentioned previously, Edwards’ main smokehouse burned down and has been rebuilt, but due to a self-mandated 400-day curing time the Surryano (as in, Serrano-style hams from Surry, VA) won’t be available for a few more months.
However, national wholesale sales manager Keith Roberts informed me they’ve been quietly QA’ing the new smokehouse for several months and he felt the new product was close enough that he could bring it to the show for select tasting. (The samples were tucked away behind the counter; the ones in the photo are a less-aged ham.) What did I think? I chewed a morsel and my eyes rolled back in my head. It had the perfect balance of salt and smoke but, beyond that, it was incredibly tender like a fine-grained filet mignon. How the f* did they achieve that? I now understand why Surryanos cost far more than other hams and will scheme to get some when I can.
Roberts and I proceeded to some ham talk in which he informed me they had recently conducted a blind tasting for chefs and other stakeholders, with their hams and those from a number of local and international competitors, and it was striking how many hams could be immediately identified on the palate. There was Benton’s from Arkansas, which makes no secret of its aggressive smoking (by the way, these folks did a beautiful job of making things right for our reader who had an issue with her ham) and Nancy Newcomb from Kentucky, a name new to me I want to investigate.
As we talked we were joined by a woman who listened for awhile and finally said she had to identify herself because was a competitor, a partner in Fermin Serrano hams in Spain. I left the two of them to plot the takeover of the world with flavorful hams. If all goes well, and I suspect it will, Surryanos will be available in time for 2017 holiday ordering.