What do The Masters and The Fresh Market have in common? A passion for pimento cheese!
As any golf fan can tell you, today marks the start of the 80th Masters Tournament. Thousands of lucky ticket holders make their pilgrimage every April to the effusively floral fairways to get a glimpse of golf’s greatest players. Nearly as famous as the course itself is Augusta National’s concession stand, where the low prices make for the best culinary bargain in sports. The beloved pimento cheese sandwich is still only $1.50. A couple of years ago, someone dared to mess with the traditional recipe. You’d have thought they’d mowed down every azalea along the course. People don’t like it when you mess with their pimento cheese. Few will ever play well enough to put on the green blazer given to Masters champions, but anyone can shell out a buck fifty and peel back the green wrapper on one of those sandwiches.
In honor of this iconic Southern staple, the folks at The Fresh Market have declared April 9 to be National Pimento Cheese Day. A specialty grocer with nearly 200 stores across the nation, The Fresh Market also enjoys a cult-like following for its pimento cheese. The Fresh Market introduced its version, based on a family recipe, as its first private label product in 1983 and has sold more than 11 million pounds of it to customers across the country – that’s enough to fill two Olympic-sized swimming pools and all the water hazards at Augusta National.
From Noon to 4 p.m. on National Pimento Cheese Day, pimento cheese devotees can go to The Fresh Market to learn about new ways to enjoy their signature spread. Here are 5 Great Ideas for Pimento Cheese from The Fresh Market.
1. The Go-For-It. Eat pimento cheese straight from the tub off the end of a cracker, chip, or fork. 2. All hail the PimCheeseburger! Smear it onto a juicy burger. 3. Mac and Pimento Cheese. Rethink the box. Stir a scoop of pimento cheese into hot pasta. Top with crisp, crumbled bacon and toasted bread crumbs. 4. Go Nuts. Form chilled firm pimento cheese into bite-sized balls and roll in finely chopped nuts. Serve as a cocktail nibble or toss onto salads. 5. Twice As Nice Baked Potatoes. Scoop out the center of piping hot baked potatoes and mix with pimento cheese, sour cream, and a little cayenne, salt, and pepper. Fill the potato skins. Broil until bubbly on top. Garnish with chives.
Do you have your own great way to make or serve your signature pimento cheese? Share it with The Fresh Market via #CheeseTheDay. The three tastiest ideas will be rewarded with a delivery of TFM pimento cheese straight to the submitters’ front door.
Sheri Castle is an award winning food writer and cooking teacher based in Chapel Hill, NC. She is fueled by the Blue Ridge Mountains, farmers' markets, and excellent bourbon. Check her out at shericastle.com.