Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sublime Pimento

I had the good fortune to dine at Peninsula Grill in Charleston recently. As our group was chatting, our server placed a “gift from the chef” before each of us – an amuse bouché of pimento cheese!

I readily admit that I did not grow up in a southern household. The only pimento cheese that I knew about came from a little glass jar from the grocery store and as I would try to spread it on a slice of white bread, it tore big out chunks which could be “glued” back together when smushed together with another slice of white bread. Did I mention that it also stuck to my teeth when I bit into it? Not a great experience, nor appetizing and certainly one I never thought I ever repeat.

So imagine my horror when, here, in this elegant and highly rated Charleston restaurant, I was served a pimento cheese amuse bouché. But being the adventuresome diner that I am – I pushed my childhood memory aside and took the bite.

Who knew that pimento cheese could be fashioned into such a sublime bite? The texture and the flavors signaled that I was tasting real pimento cheese for the first time. Boy, have I been missing out on a real southern treat.

So for those of you who can still enjoy the pleasures of cheese – here is my attempt to recreate Chef Carter’s tantalizing tidbit.

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
½ cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons of sour cream
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 dash of Tabasco sauce
2 Tablespoons pimento
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together (I used a pastry blender to cut up the grated cheese into finer pieces) and serve on warm, deep fried triangles of pita bread.

1 comment:

Lauren said...

I thought I'd add some other Charleston area restaurants that serve pimento cheese right. My favorite and a truly delicious meal is the grilled filet of beef with housemade pimiento cheese on top, served with grilled roma tomatoes, potato cake and madeira at Magnolia's on East Bay. I never order steak but I get this time and again here. Pimento cheese is also great on burgers at places like Poe's Tavern on Sullivan's Island and Vickery's, downtown and on Shem Creek. Just yesterday I tried the Pimento Cheese Sandwich, served toasted on sourdough at Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q on King Street (also in Bluffton on the way into Hilton Head). While there, my friend mentioned how great pimento cheese is on top of Benne Wafers, so I'll be trying that next!