Made in the South Awards

2012 Food Category

Dixie’s best in Home, Style + Design, Outdoors, and Food

Photo: Tara Donne

Food Category Winner

Nature’s Harmony Farm
Product: Farmstead Cheese
Made in: Elberton, GA
Est.: 2008

Five years ago, Tim and Liz Young were living on a golf course north of Atlanta. Disenchanted, the couple decided to make a change. “Rather than doing something sensible,” Tim says, “we bought a hundred and twenty-six acres, moved to the country, and became farmers.” Their foray into the cheese business began as a sustainable solution to the lingering problem of what to feed their Ossabaw Island hogs—the pigs could eat the whey and the Youngs could sell the cheese on the side. “But the thing is, I discovered I loved making cheese,” Tim says. “That first year, I did a lot of trial and error. And ended up giving about sixty percent of the cheese to the pigs.” Today, the pigs are back on a whey diet, and the Youngs maintain a small herd of grass-fed Jersey cows. Using old-world techniques, they handcraft three varieties of organic, raw-milk farmstead cheese, including Fortsonia, a hard Alpine style similar to Gruyère. Slightly nutty, it makes a killer grilled cheese but is best on its own, accompanied by a glass of good red wine.

Price: $15–$150, 

Food Category Runners-Up

Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon

Product: Pickles and Jam
Made in: Waynesville, NC
Est.: 2010

Brought up by grandmothers who canned and preserved when “putting up” was a fact of life, former pastry chefs Jessica DeMarco and Dayna Stubee had ample inspiration for their line of hand-packed pickles and jams. Armed with heirloom family recipes, DeMarco and Stubee start with seasonal North Carolina produce. “We go to our local farmers’ market to see what looks interesting,” says Stubee, the partnership’s pickling pro. Her addictive Dilly Beans—made with heritage varieties such as Yellow Wax and Blue Lake—are best enjoyed right out of the jar, or alongside a spicy Bloody Mary. Tomato lovers, try DeMarco’s Oven Roasted Tomato Jam with goat cheese and crostini

Price: $7-$10,

Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery
Product: Small-Batch Bourbon
Made in: Nashville, TN
Est.: 1860

In 1885, Charles Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery was outproducing Jack Daniel’s nearly twenty to one before Prohibition shuttered the operation. More than one hundred years later, his great-great-grandsons Charlie and Andy Nelson are reviving the family brand one bottle at a time, beginning with their new small-batch Belle Meade Bourbon. Sporting a refined version of the distillery’s historic label—created by the artist who inked the design for the dollar bill—the bourbon is based on the original Green Brier recipe, complete with high rye content and smooth finish. A Tennessee whiskey is already in barrels, and a brick-and-mortar tasting room and distillery are set to open in 2013.

Price: $32–$46,

Honeysuckle Gelato
Product: Gelato
Made in: Atlanta, GA
Est.: 2010

Landing a job at Il Laboratorio del Gelato—Jon Snyder’s Wonka-esque creamery in New York City—was a dream gig for Jackson Smith. “I really had no experience,” the Georgia native says. “So there was a definite learning curve.” Undeterred, he began tinkering with flavors rooted in the culinary traditions of the South before returning to Atlanta in 2010; not long after, he launched Honeysuckle with a pair of longtime friends. After testing nearly two hundred recipes, the trio settled on several riffs on classic Southern flavors, including bourbon pecan, banana and peanut butter, ginger molasses, and magnolia (made with blossoms that taste as good as they smell). Best of all is the honey fig flavor, made with Savannah Bee Company honey, Black Mission figs, and a fresh-from-the-farm ice cream base from Southern Swiss Dairy.

Price: $8.50 per pint,