By Brittany Llorente
STUART -- It isn't often that handcrafted, delicious food is met with affordable prices.
HoneyBaked Ham has had a reputation for more than 50 years of providing the best ham in the world, wrapped in a golden wrapper that causes ham aficionados' stomachs to rumble.
At a comfortable shop in Stuart, that history and quality is seen in every dish, sandwich and dessert that the café makes.
The owner, Tom Wood, and his staff are friendly and know more about HoneyBaked Ham and its products than you will ever need to know.
Sandy Anderson, the assistant manager, has worked at the location for seven years, having worked and managed a HoneyBaked Ham in Ohio.
Her friendliness and warm smile is what brings several customers back every day, remembering most by name.
She took the time to tell me about the care and love that goes into each ham and what makes them so special.
For instance, each ham is made from only the finest quality northwestern hogs, passing rigorous quality standards and smoked for more than 20 hours over hardwood chips, then spiral sliced.
At the shop, each ham is individually glazed, likely by the person smiling from behind the counter.
In each bite of the sandwich I ate made with the ham, the ham completely captured my taste buds.
But, I'm getting ahead of myself.
When ordering in the café, the sandwiches are made to order and all of the tasty sides are prepared in the morning, making it food that is quick to get, but nothing close to what is considered 'fast food.'
I sampled all of the sides when I visited that day (because I couldn't choose just one) including the twice baked potato salad, mandarin pineapple dream, pasta salad, broccoli bacon bliss and coleslaw.
Each of them was fresh, tasty and had a small element of surprise that made them unique to the café.
The broccoli bacon bliss was coated in a light dressing, with small shavings of cheddar cheese, bits of bacon, hunks of broccoli heads, with a bit of added sweetness from raisins.
The mandarin pineapple dream had a citrus and pineapple combination, deliciously topped with shredded coconut.
My absolute favorite, though, was the twice baked potato salad. The cheese, cream and softened potatoes made this an instant favorite.
My companion and I ordered two different sandwiches, wanting to try both the turkey and the ham creations.
The Reuben, which was only to be a seasonal item, became a shop favorite and was added permanently to the menu.
Made with the signature honey baked ham, the ham is topped with sauerkraut with Swiss cheese melted over it, dashed with Thousand Island dressing and placed between two slices of marble rye bread.
Each ingredient compliments the other, making the sandwich less than a lunch option and more of a necessity.
The second sandwich was the chipotle turkey club, made with HoneyBaked Ham's smoked turkey, topped with glazed bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato. The smoked turkey is perfectly paired with the chipotle and ranch sauces, served on toasted, multigrain bread.
The sandwich is light, refreshing and perfect for summer with a bit of zest.
The sandwiches are served with chips.
After having hardly any room left to try and eat dessert, we were persuaded by the pumpkin pie and carrot cake, which did not disappoint.
The carrot cake was moist, topped with a cream cheese icing. The pumpkin pie was delicious. The pie disappeared bite by bite even after I had it boxed up to take home. Unfortunately, it never made it there.
The level of quality doesn't stop at the shop, as they also offer take home entrees and dishes for lunch and dinner.
HoneyBaked Ham is also available for catering and quick-and-easy entertainment choices.
HoneyBaked Ham is located at 2430 N.W. Federal Highway, Stuart. For more information, call (772) 692-7443.