Season 3, Episode 13

Cold-Cut Platter? Nope — It’s Charcuterie!

Donna Sanders headshot and byline.

Not all shoots are dangerous. My goodness we have seen enough of that — like climbing cargo cranes at the Port of Savannah — and a somewhat laid-back shoot is most welcome. November 17 Where The Food Comes From visited Circle F Meats in Baxley, GA.

Meat! Sounds a bit out of the ordinary for us. Why is this? WTFCF is expanding our horizons and exploring other types of farms. You were introduced to a professional fishing fleet and its operations in S3, E7 Farming The Seas. We took you to a water buffalo ranch in S3, E1 Where The (Water) Buffalo Roam. We come from the produce world and mostly stay there, but we think it helps give you the full picture of where your food comes from to include other kinds of farming as well.

Cake display at Circle F Meats

Cake Display inside the Circle F Meats market.

Circle F Meats is actually a cattle ranch and so much more. The market – remember I can’t resist a good market – deli, meat counter, and charcuterie makes it a destination.  I only got a brief glimpse of it before we were off to the ranch. No worries there — I knew we would go back and besides I also love “moo cows.”

Cow in pasture.

Pretty Little “Moo Cow”

The first thing we noticed was how clean the pastures are. I have been to cow farms before, but this one lacked one thing – the odiferous smell.

Our first interview took place with the Owner of Circle F Farms Woody Folsom. I was busy taking videos, but did hear part of the interview. Woody talked about the history of the farm, bragged about his employees, and explained the calving process.

Woody Folsom and Chip Carter chatting at the pasture.

Chip and Woody Folsom

The farm was handed down to Woody by his dad. Originally 50 acres, under Woody’s guidance the farm now boasts an astonishing 3,100 acres. Check out the wide open spaces.

Believe it or not there were actual cowboys in the pasture, but they were too far away to get a good look or take a picture. Totally my loss. I wanted to see if they wore chaps, spurs, cowboy hats and carried lassos. You know, kind of what you see in cowboy movies.

Artwork of cowboys lassoing bulls.

Old Timey Cowboys

There is always one thing that really piques my curiosity. In this case it was why are there so many calves? I was always under the impression springtime is when we see all kinds of baby animals and after all, it was November, so how is this possible?

While Chip was doing something else I asked Woody about it. I am going to make it simple and pray I get it right. The reason there are so many babies is the cows are artificially inseminated year-round. So the season doesn’t really matter. There are 15 – 20 calves born each day in the breeding pen.

There are two types of cows used for artificial insemination. The Charolaise cow originating in France, and American bred Brahman cow.

Charolaise Cows in field.

Charolaise Cow

While both are primarily white, you can tell the difference between them. The Charolaise cow does not have a hump on its back, while the Brahman cow does (more about that later).

The Charolaise is best crossbred with a black or red Angus cow. This answered my question as to why there was one red calf in the pasture while the others were black. Unfortunately, they were too far back in the pasture to get a good picture. The Charolaise cow is known for its calm temperament and good maternal instincts. Makes total sense why they would be used for breading.

Let’s meet the Brahman cow. This cow is very distinctive. You can recognize one from a mile away. You may be asking why?

Brahman Cows eating feed.

Brahman Cows

The Brahman cow has a hump on the back of the neck. The hump is made of tissue that stores water. The Brahman cow is great for breeding in hot and humid conditions which Georgia is notorious for. Beware, while the cow is friendly, they can also have an aggressive side.

Next up, a cow pasture where we were able to get up close and personal. It was a bit intimating. Just look at these cows lined up staring at us.

This is where our somewhat laid back shoot comes into play and things got a little dicey. While Chip was interviewing Woody, the lead cow was slowly moving the herd toward us. Woody told us to move back as the herd approached – he did not want anyone to get hurt. Truth be known, I was a bit nervous at this point and did not attempt to get a video. Could be my imagination, but I think some of the crew was getting a little nervous as well.

Bull standing his ground in the field.

I had visions of the herd rushing us. Reminded me of the opening of Young Sheldon where the cast steps over to their left as a bull approaches them. I like to think it was real, but it was probably CGI. Guess I will never know. The herd we were with definitely were not! And according to their leader, our time in the field was over. Back to the store!

Let’s face it, we all know – and appreciate – what happens to cattle. Meet Head Butcher Neil Phillips and Butcher Jason Hester. Chip did interview them, but I totally missed it. Enough said about that, but they’re master craftsmen and we did enjoy the benefits of their work later.

Butchers slicing steaks.

Neil Phillips and Jason Hester

We made our way to the kitchen where the star of the show, charcuterie, is prepared. It was here we met Circle F Meats Owner and Woody’s wife Tamela Folsom. When I first saw her I was unable to get a picture of her – she runs around the store like a “bat out of torment,” one of Chip’s favorite sayings.

Tamela Folsom and Chip in the kitchen.

Tamela Folsom and Chip

What did they talk about? Charcuterie of course. Tamela explained the ins and outs of charcuterie making and its current popularity. Quite frankly, it sounds like what we use to call a cheese board except much fancier.

By looking at this picture below it would appear Chip is running away from charcuterie making. But, this was not the case and he did get in on the act. Look at the smile on his face when he successfully made a salami rose.

Chip in the kitchen.

Is He Getting Away?

Three people in front of kitchen prep area.

Hunter Leggett, Chip and Tamala Folsom

Rose made from salami.

A Rose Is Born!

I really wanted to get a video of what was going on, but the rack of spices over the preparation counter were blocking my view – I am not a tall person. Our second cameraman to the rescue! He cleared a space and set the tripod up on the other side of the spices to get an overhead look. It started to make a great video, but the tripod fell over the spices heading toward the preparation area and did stop the shoot. Thank goodness for quick reflexes. He caught the tripod before it completely fell over. Shooo what a relief for all of us as our day would have probably ended there.

In the meantime, I found a little gap to catch this.

Charcuterie display.

It was later in the day and we were all getting a bit hungry, especially after looking at the beautiful charcuterie. Circle F Associate Brent Bryson and Deli/Grill Manager Misty Morano came to the rescue. They were having a cook-off with a ribeye steak and tenderloin. Both have their chef’s secrets, but unfortunately it was up to us to decide which one was better. Easier said than done.

Brent Bryson and Misty Morano

Brent Bryson and Misty Morano

You can tell from the pictures below just how fabulous the steaks came out. Both were delicious and I really could not decide, plus you do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Look how serious Misty and Brent look while waiting for Chip’s expert opinion.

Chip holding steaks fresh off the grill.
Chip eating fresh cooked steak.

Technically, the shoot was over for me. Can you guess where I went? Back to the market. I really did contain myself from buying more spices, rubs, marinades and a charcuterie making set. That one was really hard, but kudos to me I was able to resist it.

Wall display of sauces, jellies, and seasonings inside Circle F Meats Market.
Charcuterie making supplies inside Circle F Meats market.

There were a couple of things I could not resist. All the Georgia Bulldog cooking utensils — spatulas, whisks, hamburger flippers. Beautiful knife sets and cutting boards… but I had to rein it in.

Chip, on the other hand, could not resist the butcher case. He bought a ton of beef and what made him even more happy was the final cost — while more typical grocery cuts are available, Circle F’s own product costs less than those. Naturally, there is a reason for that. Circle F Meats does not have a middleman, in other words they produce, prepare, and the beef goes directly to the store. Trust me when I say it tastes better, too.

Let's Grill sign.

WTFCF is in Georgia a lot. We’ve already gone back to Circle F Meats and Chip now makes it a point to try to arrange our travel schedules so we’re coming home through Baxley whenever we’re on the way back to Tampa Bay. My suggestion: If you are anywhere near Baxley, GA it is worth the stop. I sound like another commercial. In case you haven’t noticed this is happening a lot lately. We see some impressive things. The real fun is sharing them with you!

Panoramic view of the meat case.