This special Mercy Musings series focuses on local restaurants and grocers who have meaningful stories and special seasonal recipes to share.
The farm-to-table, local eating trend may be relatively new to most people in Middle Georgia, but business owner and cook extraordinaire, Brendan Rowley, owner of Village Marketplace on Ingleside Avenue in Macon, has had an interest in fresh local produce for many years. Prior to opening his store in 2016, Brendan volunteered with several small farmers and pop up markets. The experience gave Brendan the idea to try a store concept to bridge the gap between farmers and consumers. The store would provide families the opportunity to purchase local and Georgia-made specialty items every day instead of three hours per week at a market.
To get the business up and running, sons Tyner and Jackson, were part of the renovation and official paint crew. Summers provided an opportunity for the boys to get involved, and the hard work and interaction with customers taught some good life lessons. Summer is a busy season and serving the local community is an integral part of Rowley’s business plan. Various organizations often ask for donations to help with fundraising efforts. Brendan says, “I have been in their position and understand that it takes great community partnerships to reach our goals. We love to do what we can, especially for those friends and customers who have helped get us to where we are today. If it is important to them, we want to help.”
Village Marketplace proudly carries specialty food items that you won’t find at most big box grocery stores. They focus on local and organic and experiment with new products as well. The University of Georgia hosts a Flavor of Georgia competition each March which is an exciting starting point for researching new products.
When asked to share his favorite tailgating recipe, Brendan gave the story behind his “Utica Greens.” “A few years back, I went to Upstate New York to visit some relatives. We ate at a local restaurant, and I had an item called Utica Greens. I loved them, so when I got home, I started playing with recipes. I am not very good at following recipes, so I generally use them as a starting point. This dish is great as both an appetizer and as a side item. Play with it and adjust your levels of cheesiness and heat!”
1+ pounds Collards (can use Kale, Swiss Chard, Escarole, or a mix)
4-5 tablespoons minced garlic
2-4 tablespoons hot cherry pepper mix (to your taste)
2 packs diced proscuitto
1/2 cup breadcrumbs for mixture, plus extra to top
1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano, plus extra to top
1/2 cup chicken stock
salt & pepper (to taste)
1. Use only leaves, discard stalks and damaged leaves. Rinse thoroughly, rough chop.
2. Place in boiling water for approximately 5 minutes. Maintain green color and some texture to the
3. Drain very well, set to the side.
4. Heat olive oil in large sauce pan/cast iron skillet.
5. Add proscuitto, cook for 2 minutes. Add cherry pepper mix, cook for 2 more minutes. Add garlic
for 2 more minutes.
6. Add the greens to the pan and stir well.
7. Add the breadcrumbs, cheese, and 1-2 tablespoons olive oil to the mixture, and stir.
8. Add chicken broth (to your taste) to moisten the mix to your liking. I will add more to thin the dish
out and use as a dip, or will add less to leave thicker and use as a hearty side.
9. Place in oven safe dish, top with remaining breadcrumbs and cheese (to your taste), and broil for 4-5
10. Serve with crusty bread slices, pita chips, or fresh vegetables as an appetizer, OR serve as a side item
to your main dish.
Mount de Sales Academy is a private Catholic school located in Macon, GA, and serves students in Bibb, Houston, Jones, Monroe, Peach and other surrounding counties. MDS is sponsored and inspired by the Sisters of Mercy. Since 1876, MDS has served a diverse college-preparatory community of learners—students and teachers alike—who are poised to discover, challenged to innovate, and motivated to serve.