Brick Cheese

Brick Cheese

by Ari Weinzweig

Widmer-Logo-TMAAlthough I grew up eating stuff that was sold in the supermarket bearing the label “Brick” what we were eating really had nothing other than its name in common with the real thing. What I got was some sort of factory insta-cheese facsimile, shipped from factory to food store within days of making, rubbed with orange food coloring to replicate the traditional washed rind that’s supposed to be on the cheese.

So then, you might wonder, “What is real brick cheese anyway?”

Brick is an American original. It was “invented” in 1877 by John Jossi, a Swiss-born American cheesemaker. (Can you say that a cheese was “invented?” Would the word “born” be better? Maybe “developed” might be more appropriate.) At the age of 12, Jossi came to the States in 1857 from Switzerland with his parents. The family settled first in upstate New York, but two years later young Jossi was running a small Limburger factory in the town of Richwood, in southwest Wisconsin. (A little commentary on how times change—you won’t find too many 14-year-old plant managers around these days.) After marrying the daughter of a local cheesemaker, Jossi returned to NY in 1873, where he spent a few years working in a larger Limburger plant.

Apparently during that timem, Jossi came up with the concept for what was to become Brick cheese. He envisioned a cheese made with curd that was drier than that used for the Limburger he was used to. He tried using lower levels of the bacterium Linens to rub the outer rind and develop the flavor of the cheese. And, he came up with the idea of using bricks to press the cheese, which of course was formed into a brick shape.

In 1877 Jossi came back to Wisconsin, where he took on the task of running a newly-built Wisconsin plant to produce Brick cheese. Jossi’s success led to the spread of the Brick recipe. Over the years, Jossi taught the recipe for Brick to a dozen other Wisconsin dairies. In 1883, he gave the cheese factory to his brother, who later sold it to Kraft (the story of dozens of small Wisconsin dairies). Jossi died in Milwaukee in 1902. Fortunately his cheese legacy lived on.

Modern Brick

While there are hundreds of thousands of pounds of Brick cheese being made today, only a tiny percentage of it is authentic. The rest is merely big factory cheese production that bears the Brick name but carries none of its distinctive traditional flavor.

As Mr. Jossi created it, Brick cheese is firmly in the tradition of the great washed rind cheeses of Europe. Its flavor is enhanced during ripening by bacterium Linens, the same pleasantly pungent bacterial action that contributes to the flavor of the classic French cheeses like Pont l’Eveque, St. Nectaire, Reblochon and Livarot. Real Brick has a heady aroma and modestly full flavor that will almost assuredly keep Brick from ever being the most popular cheese in town. But cheese aficionados who swoon over the washed rind offerings from Europe should try this all-American original. So buy Brick, I tell you—it’s our heritage, it’s endangered and above all else, it’s good.

When I say endangered, I don’t mean that real Brick cheese is on the verge of disappearing. But take note that there is only one place left—Widmer’s Cheese—that makes real Brick. Happily, Widmer’s is a well-run, thriving cheese business. Still located in the town of Theresa, Wisconsin, no more than twenty minutes up the road from where Mr. Jossi invented Brick back in the 1870s, it’s run today by Joe Widmer, the third generation of his family to operate the “plant.” (Old-time Wisconsin cheese people use the term “plant” regularly, but for those who aren’t in the industry I don’t want to give the impression that Widmer’s is operating at some huge commercial scale. They make a healthy half-million pounds of cheese a year; not bad for a little cheese “plant” but hardly a drop in the commercial bucket if you look at companies like Borden.) Joe’s grandfather John O. Widmer came—like Jossi—from Switzerland and started the company back in 1922. Joe’s father was one of three sons who took over from John. They in turn passed the plant’s operation on to Joe.

Joe is adamant about sticking to the traditional method of brining the cheese. The curd is still carefully moved by hand from the vat to the cheese molds. Each is hand-turned three times during that first day. The young cheeses are placed in forms to be pressed—Joe, in fact, still uses the same bricks his grandfather bought decades ago to weight down the new cheeses decades ago. After pressing, the cheeses are placed in a brine solution to take on salt and the all-important bacterial cultures. From there they’re moved to a warm (70°F) room where the bacteria can work their magic. And the cheeses are still ‘smear ripens’ with a brine of salt water and whey.

Widmer’s authentic Brick cheese is great eaten just as it is. I prefer it after it’s had about ten to twelve weeks of aging. If you like French washed-rind cheeses after dinner, why not add this one to your list? And if you’re into sandwiches, real Brick is a flavor bonanza. Try it with a slice of sweet onion and some strong mustard. It’s also excellent with some of that great liverwurst from Usinger’s in Milwaukee.

Fried Curds: The State Dish of Wisconsin

by Ari Weinzweig

Cheese curds were one the major hits of the last year at the Roadhouse. Although they aren’t even on the menu, people actually get angry when we don’t have them in house. Which I guess you could class as a good problem. If you haven’t had them, let me invite you over for a taste. What I’ve experienced in the last six months is that pretty much everyone likes these things. Kids like ‘em and adults like ‘em. First-timers fall for them quickly; long time Zingerman’s food fanatics are into them as well. Even Europeans who come over to visit seem to have become big fans. The funny thing is that in contrast to all the poetry that Southerners muster up about sorghum, finding anyone who’s written or will even say anything much about cheese curds hasn’t been easy. In fact, in a year or so of reading and asking, I’ve basically uncovered next to nothing. What I have found is the smiles on the faces of the people who eat them—there’s a nice glow that they get, a sort of naturally happy look that you usually associate with all-American stuff like ice cream and apple pie. It shows up on the faces of first-timers, but also on those of native Wisconsinites who are amazed at just how good these particular fried cheese curds actually are. In this case, it’s not just about memories—these seem to be as good or often better than most folks from the Dairy state remember them.

Up until last fall when we started to make them at the Roadhouse, we’d have to have driven round the lake to Wisconsin to get them. But as one customer already wrote to the website having read the Zingerman’s Times ad in the Observer, Ann Arborites won’t have to drive six hours west for fried curds any more because we’ve got them on the specials list at the Roadhouse.

If you haven’t had them before, fried cheese curds are about as basic a building block of Wisconsin eating as you can get. Ely at the RH called them “Wisconsin on a plate.” I think they’re pretty much the “National Dish of Wisconsin.” Whatever you call them, they’ve been selling like crazy. As one customer said, “What’s not to like? Really good fried cheese.”

In the Dairy State when people talk about eating curds, they’re referring either to freshly made cheddar curds, or to those same unaged curds that have been deep fried. Since we’re a bit far to be getting freshly made cheddar curds all the way here from Wisconsin, what we’re talking about here is the really good to eat fried version. Don’t think we need to lament our fate on this one though. The online food newsletter, Belly du Jour, wrote last month “The only thing tastier than a fresh cheese curd is a fresh, fried cheese curd. State fairs throughout the Midwest serve up these golden bites of heaven all month long, but beware: one taste and you’ll be donning a cheese hat before you know it.”

The curds themselves are made by Joe Widmer and crew in Theresa, Wisconsin, the same folks from whom we get the really great, traditionally made Brick cheese. The curds are dipped in a batter made with Sprecher’s Pub Ale, made in Milwaukee, then deep fried and served with a bit of roasted Jalapeno Ranch dressing. Haute cuisine they aren’t, but if you want to get a taste of really well-made, traditional, regionally-based American food, definitely give ‘em a try.

Greetings from Wisconsin’s World of Curd

Greetings from Wisconsin’s World of Curd

by Ari Weinzweig

I don’t want anyone to think that I’m biased towards Wisconsin in some way. My mother did go to college in Madison and I certainly like the Dairy state. But I mean, hey, we’re in Michigan and we make our own cheese right here in town.

Three things in particular that get my passion going for Wisconsin cheese right now. Basically, the way I see it—or should I say, taste it? —Wisconsin’s got it coming, going and everything in between. Plus, it is the home of fried cheese curds, seemingly, almost everyone’s favorite food at the Roadhouse.

1. The Past: The Great Cheese Tradition

If you like history, as I do, and you like cheese, as I also do, Wisconsin’s gotta be pretty darned high on your list. Go almost anywhere in the state over the last hundred and fifty years and you’re going to find curds and whey woven into the culture and the community; cheesemaking and dairy farming are stamped onto the state’s personality as seafood is on the East Coast.

2. The Future: Fantastic Commitment to Artisan Cheese

A lot of states talk big when it comes to supporting artisan foods. Wisconsin, by contrast, has consistently put its money where its mouth is. Between the work that the University of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board and all the other related government support groups that provide training and help for the small cheesemakers, the power, insight and expertise that’s been put behind artisan cheese in the Dairy State is pretty demonstrably huge. There are extensive training programs, meaningful efforts to improve quality, combined with very real emotional, technical and business support for the sorts of small, artisan cheesemakers that we like to buy from. And I can tell you, although I haven’t done a state by state study and I have no idea what they’re doing in Mississippi, Montana or Maine, I can say with fairly high degree of certainty that Wisconsin’s where it’s at with this.

3. The Present: Really Fine Flavor

Of course, all of the above without great tasting cheese isn’t worth a whole lot outside of academia; past and future aside, its in the present and in our mouths where we eat the cheese. There are some incredibly delicious cheeses coming out of Wisconsin right now and we’ve got a whole wide range of ‘em here at the Roadhouse and the Deli.

Speaking of which, here are a bunch that are at the top of my list. Come by and taste at will.

Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Mike Gingrich

No doubt in my mind that this is one of the best cheeses in the country. I’m pretty sure that I’ve only had one person of the hundreds that I sampled this cheese to in the last two years that didn’t like it—it’s that good. Quite simply, Mike Gingrich and crew are just doing a great job. The milk comes only from a single, carefully managed herd of cows. The cheese is made only when the animals are grazing in the open pastures. They use only very fresh hand from raw milk. And the cheese is very nicely matured on wooden shelves. After tasting a number of different day’s production (remember every day’s flavor is a bit different) we chose cheese from two days in May 2006—the 11th and 27th if you really want to know. Wonderful, nutty, totally full flavor that has perhaps the slightest similarity to a French Beaufort or Comte, and a fairly firm though not hard texture that’s reminiscent of the sheep’s milk cheese from the French Ossau. But Pleasant Ridge is really a cheese all its own. If you want to sit and eat a piece of great cheese—before dinner, after dinner, for a picnic lunch—try this one.

30 Month Old Baby Swiss from Myron Olsen

Baby Swiss may not be a name that sends cheese experts into fits of excitement but I’ll tell you this is one seriously good piece of cheese. And anyone who dismissed it because Baby Swiss isn’t usually all that exciting is missing out if they skip this cheese. It’s made in the town of Monroe by Myron Olsen and the crew at Chalet Cheese a hundred-plus year old coop of 28 farms and the farms are all located in the surrounding Green County countryside. Chalet is the oldest continuously operating cheese plant in Wisconsin, which is nice to know but I guess the more important thing is that the cheese is so darned good. I first tasted this Baby Swiss over a year ago—liked it so much we got Myron to set aside a whole pallet for us. It was good then and it’s just continued to get better as it ages. To state the obvious, it’s NO “baby”—the wheels are now well over two and a half years old. If you like Swiss cheese, you really ought to try this one—it’s got a delicious intense nutty Swiss flavor with just a touch of sweetness and none of the bitterness that mark poorly made Swiss cheeses. I like it on its own, on burgers, grilled cheese, fondue, or just with some apples, a hunk of French Mountain bread from the Bakehouse, some cultured butter, and some of those really good roasted grapes at the Roadhouse.

Traditional Brick Cheese from Joe Widmer

An American classic, Brick is actually a Wisconsin original invented in the late 19th century by a Swiss immigrant named John Jossi. This particular brick is made by Joe Widmer who you might know better as the guy that make the curds that go into the fried cheese curds at the Roadhouse. The Brick is actually the pride and joy of Widmer’s cheese—Joe’s grandfather started making it back in 1922. He’s still using his grandfather’s bricks to weight and age the cheese. The finished cheese is what Europeans know as ‘washed rind’ – same cheese family as the famous French classics like Pont L’Eveque, Livarot and Muenster. Traditional brick like this, although few Americans know it, really is one of our great indigenous eating cheeses. Just sit down and cut off a hunk and have some fun eating it. It’s a working person’s cheese and I say that in the best sense of the word—Brick’s really great with beer, melts nicely for a full flavored burger, or on a grilled cheese with the Roadhouse bread from the Bakehouse.

7-Year Cheddar from Tony and Julie Hook

A great piece of Wisconsin cheddar made by two of the sweetest folks you’ll meet in cheesemaking. Tony and Julie Hook hand make this cheese at their factory in Mineral Point. Mostly they just sell it at the Madison Farmer’s Market so I feel lucky to get it here. The cheese reflects the personalities of the folks who make it—both are really nice; sweet but not in a cloying way; smooth with no bite; and, when you get to know them, loaded up with lots of interesting complexity. I love the cheddar on the 24/7 Burger at the Roadhouse—fresh ground Niman Ranch chuck on a New Jersey roll from the Bakehouse along with Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon. (The bacon is smoked for 24 hours, the cheese aged 7 years and the burger is good pretty much anytime you feel like eating one, hence the name.) Check it out next time you’re in the mood for some super-aged, great tasting cheddar.

Wisconsin Mountain Cheese from the Jaeckle Family

Another really good cheese being made in Monroe, it’s younger than the Baby Swiss with more of an aromatic nose and a smooth texture on the tongue. The Jaeckle family, who’ve got over a hundred years of history of great work with cheese in their home country, brought the techniques used to make it from Switzerland. It’s originally a Gruyere recipe but because they’ve successfully adapted it to their Wisconsin environment, it’s really become a great cheese in its own right. Which is why we call it Wisconsin Mountain Cheese – it’s a mountain cheese recipe made in the middle of the US, not in Switzerland. Anyone who likes a good Swiss cheese is going to like this one. Right now it’s running about — months of age – Great on its own or on most everything and anything—burgers, grilled cheese, gratins, good onion soup.

Stravecchio Parmesan from Sartori

I can’t sincerely say that I’d take American Parmesan over the best Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano. But fortunately I don’t have to choose—we get to have both! To me this is the best American Parmesan out there. Made in the tiny town of Antigo, up near the border with the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The cheeses are made pretty much as they have been at Antigo for over five decades. Aging is done on fir boards, and, unlike in Italy, the wheels age in an upright position. The cheese is really quite impressively excellent, both for eating and for grating. Nutty and addictive in the way that good nibbling works – sort of like those potato chips on the ads, I’d venture to guess that if I set out a bunch of pieces of this cheese you won’t be able to just eat one. It’s become a staple at the Roadhouse on everything from the much-loved Caesar salad to pastas and soups. Ask for a taste next time you’re in.

Fried Cheese Curds Take the Cake

Although Wisconsin’s clearly not a country unto itself, I’ve taken to calling this “the national dish of Wisconsin”—it’s got presence and popularity worthy of being a national dish, even if in truth, Wisconsin only currently has the status of a state. They’re being ordered in ever increasing quantities at the Roadhouse, where sous chef Julio Vanderpool points out regularly, that they “put the ‘sin’ back in Wisconsin.”

If you aren’t from the Dairy State, and let me explain what people over on the other side of Lake Michigan mean when they talk about eating “curds.” Basically they’re bits of young, unfinished cheddar, cut or broken into pieces about the size of a large crouton. In Michigan we usually eat curd in the softer un-pressed context of cottage cheese (large or small?). But over Wisconsin way, they eat curds just as they are, usually within a day or so of taking them out of the vat. Given that we don’t have access to them that close to their curdly origins, we serve the curd the other way that Wisconsinites love to eat ‘it—fried. Having tasted a lot of fried cheese curds over the years, I will say with some confidence that the fried cheese curds at the Roadhouse are pretty darned good. We get the “raw” curd from Joe Widmer, a third generation cheesemaker in the town of Theresa. The batter is made with Sprecher’s Pub Ale. The kitchen crew serves them up with a crock of roasted jalapeno ranch dressing. The rest of us take advantage of all their work, and just eat them with great pleasure.

The cool cultural thing about the fried cheese curds is that, literally, almost everyone seems to love these things. Kids and adults both adore them. Long time regulars and first timers all take to ‘em. Food fanatics who’ve driven hours to eat here like them, as do people who are venturing into great food for the first time ever. Even Wisconsinites who come to visit have consistently been reporting that these curds are great (and many do keep saying—unsolicited mind you—that these are way better than anything they’ve had back home in Wisconsin. In fact the loyalty factor is going so high on these that people are starting to get mad when we’re out even though they’re not on the menu.

Of course as one loyal customer pointed out—“What’s not to like? It’s fried cheese. And it’s really, really good fried cheese!”

Ig Vella’s Real Monterey Jack Cheese

Ig Vella’s Real Monterey Jack Cheese

by Ari Weinzweig

ig-vella-&-dry-jack-spr11Monterey Jack has its roots in the cheesemaking traditions of Spain. As Spanish Franciscan friars moved their way up the coast in the 18th and 19th centuries they established the series of missions that still dot the California countryside. With them they brought their recipe for “queso blanco,” the fresh white cheese of their homeland.

In 1882, a Scot by the name of David Jacks began to produce large quantities of this traditional cheese, delivering it to the growing community of miners arriving to prospect for gold. His cheese became so famous that it came to be known by his name, “Monterey Jacks”. The “s” got lost somewhere along the line, but the cheese remained.

Made by hand and aged for only a few weeks, real Monterey Jack is mild, but flavorful, with a delicate milky flavor. Properly made, it will get softer and creamier as it matures. A few weeks out, it will be softer than it was when it started (which is already much softer than the rubbery, mass-produced cheese), creamier and more flavorful, almost spreadable. Real Monterey Jack makes a tasty melting cheese for omelets, pizzas, sandwiches, salads or almost anything else for that matter. Great for Mexican dishes as well.

Pimento Cheese

Pimento Cheese

by Ari Weinzweig

pimento-cheese-cowgirl-MO-webI hardly even know where to start on this one. Pimento cheese has been pretty much the surprise of the year for me. Like the horse races in the spring it was sort of a triple crown of surprises: first, I was surprised by what it was; second, by how passionate people down South are about it; and third, by how quickly non-Southerners have embraced it here in Ann Arbor.

I guess the place to begin is how my ignorance of pimento cheese almost got me kicked out of the Southern Foodways Alliance conference last fall. In one of those really-stupid-but-you-didn’t-know-it-was-stupid-or-you-wouldn’t-have-said-it moments, I let slip a derogatory comment about pimento cheese in public. Hey, what I did I know? I’d never actually had pimento cheese. And in my ignorance, I assumed that pimento cheese like the pimento loaf stuff that they sell in the deli cases of mass-market grocery stores. You know pasteurized, processed cheese that no one that’s into full flavored food would want to eat.

The first person that called me out on my food faux pas was Kristen Hindes, a regional cheese manager with Whole Foods, who’s lived much of her life in Atlanta. When she heard me slough off pimento cheese she gave me a look of horror, as if I’d just made some sort of terrible racial slur. I can’t remember exactly what I said to her in response to that look, but it was probably something along the lines of, “Well you don’t really eat that stuff, do you?”

I was shocked to hear a loud, “Of course we eat pimento cheese. What are you talking about? It’s the best!” At first I thought maybe it was just an emotional thing that Kristen had for this stuff – I come across people who have soft spots Twinkies and Fruit Loops and I figured this was just another case of childhood bonding to an otherwise uninteresting food. Man was I wrong. Totally, completely radically off base. Pimento cheese is neither fad nor faux. It’s very real American food with a very long history, and, in all seriousness, it makes for some really good eating.

I guess before we go any farther here, I should back up a bit here and tell my fellow Yankees who don’t know from pimento cheese just what it is. It’s a blend of grated cheese (usually cheddar) with mayonnaise (though some folks use Miracle Whip), chopped pimentos, and spices. If you’re starting to make a face, save yourself the embarrassment I put myself through because, honestly, good pimento cheese is really, really good. To help acculturate those who aren’t of Southern origin, I should say too that most folks who speak southern don’t pronounce it quite like it looks. It’s more along the lines of “pimenah” (pardon my poor phonetics); others call it “menta” cheese, and some simply say “PC.” I’m sure there are about a thousand regional variations I haven’t yet-but hope to soon-heard.

Thanks to the Southern Foodways Alliance there actually is a book-“Pimento Cheese Invitational, 2003.” Lest you have any doubt of the seriousness of the subject, the book has over two hundred pages of recipes and very personal remembrances about pimento cheese. According to Kendra Myers, writing in the “Pimento Cheese Invitational,” it’s been a big deal in the South since the early years of the 20th century, featured in Southern groceries since 1915. The poverty of the Depression years made it even more of a hit. And it’s apparently continued to grow in popularity ever since. What do you do with it? Might as well just quote Kendra Myers again: “… it’s easy to make, it’s cheap and it tastes great. It doesn’t make white bread go soggy, and it keeps well. It’s good between two slices of bread, lining a rib of celery, packed into a cherry tomato, or perched on a cracker. It’s heaven on a hamburger or a hot dog. Or eaten with a spoon right out of the crock.”

It turns out that it’s not just Southerners who seem to like it. I made my first batch at home and brought it in the Roadhouse where I rather tentatively gave tastes to the first ten staff members who came by. Shockingly I got nearly unanimous praise-they loved it (and let me tell you the odds of everyone liking any new thing we introduce the first time through are next to nil, so getting this much early support was akin to hitting a home run in your first major league at bat.)

With that much support I decided to venture out in public with pimento cheese and put it on the specials list at the Roadhouse. That’s no small thing for me because everything I’d learned about told me that pimento cheese is just the sort of homemade, nearly ubiquitous food that I’m always kind of afraid to do-since everyone grew up with it everyone’s going to have a radically different version in their head of what it should be like (it’s akin to having 50 Jewish people over and hoping they all like your chopped liver.) So far, knock on wood, the response has been consistently good to great. One guy told me it was almost as good as his mother’s (that’s about as good as it gets I think.) Another, from Missouri told me it was the real thing. A third from Mississippi said it was great, “like a redneck endorsement!” One older customer who grew up in the Depression in Arkansas grabbed me at the Roadhouse and said firmly, “Congratulations!” “For what?” I asked. “Pimento cheese,” she answered, a bit of her Southern accent still coming through even after many decades of living in Ann Arbor. “It’s better than what I grew up on,” she said very seriously. I later gave Nancy Eubanks some of my early test batch to taste. Her response was, “Oh my God! Too good! Paris, Texas (her hometown) would be proud!”

Pimento Cheese Burgers

Last winter I was down in Columbia, South Carolina to visit Anson Mills (where we get those amazing grits and Carolina Gold rice from). I ate my first pimento cheese burger there. (Note, by the way, that it’s a “pimento cheese burger,” not a “pimento cheeseburger.” Or in Columbia where they call ’em “pienot burgers.”) The burger wasn’t bad but the idea of it was clearly great. As soon as I had two bites I knew that it would be even better if we made it with better beef (that fresh ground Niman Ranch chuck is hard to beat) and better cheese (aged Vermont cheddar from Grafton Village). Having put pimento cheese burgers on as a special over the last few months, I can tell you that they’ve been an almost overnight hit. To quote John T. Edge (who some of you met when he was at the Roadhouse last March as part of a special dinner we did featuring his “Fried Chicken” book) from his soon-to-be-released book “Hamburgers and Fries,” a pimento cheese burger is, “… a molten stack of meat and goo. It’s also delicious.” No question that he’s right. I think it’s safe to say that they’ll be on the next menu. For the moment feel free to ask for one any time. If we’ve got the cheese, you can have the burger!

Bigger than Barbecue

In the ten months since I my first faux pas at that conference down in Mississippi, I’ve come to the conclusion that pimento cheese is really a bigger thing in the Southern psyche than barbecue. That’s right. This cheese spread is actually a more important piece of everyday Southern culture than its much beloved barbecue (which, please don’t let me get into trouble again, is also an extremely big deal and very, very good!) Hardly anyone does whole hog barbecue at home any more except on very special occasions. Pimento cheese, on the other hand, is well within everyone’s budget, both timewise and costwise. You can feed two or two hundred. To quote Melissa Booth Hall, “Pimento cheese . . . is not so much the food of special occasions as it is the stuff of everyday life.” Real people eat it, they eat it a lot, they love it.

In that sense, I realize pimento cheese is very much what John T. Edge would might call an “iconic American food.” It’s truly unique to this country. It’s not a fad. It’s not phony. And because it actually tastes good as well as carries high emotional attachment, it is very much the sort of full flavored traditional food that we focus on here at Zingerman’s. And it’s totally the kind of really good American food that running the Roadhouse has pushed us to discover, deliver and teach about. Pimento cheese, like so much of what we serve, is fun, culturally complex, historically intriguing and good to eat all at once-I do really love my job.

By this point in the conversation you’re either as surprised as I was that there’s this much to say on the subject. Or you’re surprised that anything I’ve written wasn’t already incredibly obvious to me. Or you’re ready to send me your recipe and set me straight on the true pimento cheese path. In any case, thanks for reading. Thanks to Kristen Hindes and everyone else who has helped me learn American culinary history in such an engaging way. And thanks in advance to those who know much more than I do and have eaten much more pimento cheese than I have. Here’s to many more flavorful culinary surprises to come!

You can certainly make your own pimento cheese at home. But you can also buy it by the pound at the Roadhouse or the Deli, or order at the Roadhouse whenever you like. If you want to learn more about pimento cheese, we’ve got copies of the “Pimento Cheese Invitational” book on hand at the Roadhouse, or you can order one from the Southern Foodways Alliance.