Caramelized OpiNIONS - Food blog, frugality, and uncouth social action


September 27, 2010

Help Make a Foodie Movie

I knew Nicole Lang came to Richmond on a mission. Her infatuation with the River City was no secret. Now that she’s settled in and making desserts for Black Sheep and Mamma Zu’s and maybe for you, her first project has gone public: a movie about a southern phenomenon, the festive looking spread called pimento cheese. Personally, I’m fascinated (and not just because I can already hear the impeccable southern soul soundtrack she’s probably assembling). Neither my wife nor I can ever recall having eaten pimento cheese, not during our Northern Virginia childhoods, nor as RVA transplants the past 15 years. But, apparently, we’ve been missing out. And now we’re gonna get straightened out by the red speckled spread. But, the full education will only be available if the movie gets made. And that’s where you come in. In anticipation of your support, Nicole is sharing some of her pimento recommendations below.

Read on.

I was born in NYC and raised in the NORTH.

There, we ate peanut butter and jelly or sometimes if our parents were feeling crazy, fluffernutters. We were never given what my friend from California refers to as “cheese salad”.

“You know, like tuna salad, but with shredded cheddar cheese and pimentos instead of tuna”. The concoction she was describing is what you all here in the SOUTH lovingly call “puhminnah” cheese. Or rather, Pimento Cheese (or in actuality, pimiento, but that is a discussion for another day).
I first heard of it in the year 2006.

That is how long I have been missing out on the glory of PC. I was born in the 70’s so as you can see it’s way too long to go without something so delicious. Cheese, spice, mayonnaise, roasted peppers! Who can resist a combo like that?

It astounded me, that an individual highly interested in all manner of food could have missed out on something that is so standard in many parts of the country, below the Mason Dixon, for sure but also all the way out to Texas….and in Canada..(?).

However far this magical spread/dip/burger topping/celery stalk filling has reached, it’s origins are decidedly Southern. But why? And how? I intend to find out and am in the process of scouring the South to explore homes, kitchens, BBQs, picnics, restaurants and any other place else pimento cheese turns up.

(Which, by the way, apparently includes real estate open houses?! A friend recently told me he encountered Pimento Cheese at not one, but TWO separate Open House events- what happened to cookies?)

Once finished, I will present these findings in a documentary entitled “Pimento Cheese, Please!” If you click that link, you can see the teaser for the film, as well as the puzzled faces of many New Yorkers.

They just don’t get it. Hopefully if I can get funding to finish the film, I can change all that. I am seeking small pledges in exchange for Pimento Cheese related rewards on Kickstarter.

Finally, people who have been denied pimento cheese their entire lives, will be given a history on this regional favorite! They will introduce it to their families and start new traditions of serving it while watching the New York Giants or the Boston Patriots!

Okay, let’s not get too crazy, perhaps the Northern pallet is not ready. In fact, in my travels I met a born and bred Texan who hated the stuff.

We can’t all love Pimento Cheese, I guess. We can try though, which brings me to our fair city of Richmond, VA and the PC available here that I have tried.

My top three picks are:

  • The Black Sheep: They serve a sandwich called The Bridge Club, which not only features pimento cheese, but also a fantastic cheese relish!
  • Lemaire at The Jefferson Hotel: Theirs is a white cheddar with a salty bite, served with a toasted baguette. Classy!
  • Ellwood Thompson’s: The local grocery’s house made spread, available in the prepared food aisle by the cheese dept. is classic. If my memory is correct I believe it contains jalapenos.
  • Comfort An homage to the classic recipe, with the adornment of very finely diced onion and herbs to add both crunch and depth.

That’s my short list. I am interested in expanding it though, so if you have a suggestion, please send it my way, you could leave a comment on the film’s Kickstarter page if you’d like, or right here on Mr. Guard’s blog!

Why make a documentary on a simple and humble cheese spread, you ask?

Well to be honest, I am not the verbose, let’s get metaphysical on our dinner type. My food blog is not a discussion forum and at the end of the day I love to eat and cook with people, not dissect and deconstruct. My film is really about people. People who eat a deeply rooted Southern specialty. They bring it to funerals and barbecues, they make it at holidays and celebrations and they keep some in the fridge, just cos’ they always have. Their grandmother taught them the family recipe and they feed it to their kids. Instead of going the way of tomato aspic, this relic foodstuff is more popular than ever, folks can’t let it go. I think it’s rise in popularity has much to do with our nation’s current food tone. The return to gardening and preserving, eating locally, homesteading, “making do” if you will. Using humble ingredients to make something special and tasty to give your loved ones.

I hope to get it on film.

Thank you for listening to my rant.
Pimento Cheesliy Yours,
Nicole Lang

17 Responses to “Help Make a Foodie Movie”

  1. i concur with the jason alley vote. i will venture to say that kendra over garnett’s may be able to swing some good pimiento. maybe lucille’s?

  2. Janet says:

    Good Foods Spicy Pimento cheese is the best I’ve had.

  3. Stephen says:

    I will put my pimento cheese up against anyone’s in town. That is all.

  4. Laura Bailey says:

    When is Rice Pudding The Movie coming out?

  5. John says:

    I’m interested in the movie. I need to try some good versions, I’m still traumatized by Pimento Cheese Sandwich day from elementary school lunches. Not the day we looked forward to every week, certainly not as good as all you can eat taco day or brunswick stew day.

  6. Ed says:

    My grandmother’s was the best. Her “recipe” called for 3 kinds of shredded cheese, Dukes mayo (had to be Dukes), and in addition to the pimentos she added diced jalepeno peppers to give it a little bite. If you’ve only had the day-glo orange stuff, you haven’t had pimento cheese.

  7. Nicole says:

    Hi! This is Nicole,
    Hey Ed, if you are interested in contributing your grandmothers recipe to the community style cookbook I am offering as one of the rewards on Kickstarter please do! You will get a copy of the finished book in return! You can contact me thru my blog FoodPunk, or on Kickstarter.
    That goes for you too Stephen, or anyone who wishes to contribute!
    Thanks for the support Jason!!

  8. Ellie B says:

    Comfort’s and Lemaire’s pimento are really good, indeed, but for my (not literally) daily consumption, I like Miss Bonnie’s pimento cheese made in Midlothian. They’re delish!

  9. jasonguard says:

    Someone on Twitter said the same as Ellie. Miss Bonnie’s is made locally and available at Kroger. Personally, the most appetizing thing I’ve heard so far is pickled jalapenos added in. But, I’m a sucker for southwest flavors. Judging by Garnett’s really delicious potted cheese, I’ll bet Kendra could probably make a good version. Maybe my aversion to this stuff comes from my childhood, lumping together the aesthetic counterparts that pimento cheese has in the jello salad, and its deli meat cousin, pimento loaf. Anwho, I’ll be popping by Kroger to correct my assumptions.

  10. jasonguard says:

    Picked up a 8oz of Kroger’s “made in-house” pimento cheese ($3.29) and Miss Bonnie’s 8oz jar and shared them both with my office. Since these two were very different mellow Kroger vs sharp Bonnie’s, opinions diverged greatly. People talked of their grand-mama’s recipe (more like Kroger’s) and intensity to make it stretch farther, but too much vinegar (Bonnie’s). Others wouldn’t touch’em, saying the stuff looked weird. All of these opinionated people grew up in the Richmond area. I liked them both. I usually pick sides easily, but these two were so different in taste and price, I could see a place for either, depending on the context. Next up, get my wife to the stuff a try and then head to the places Nicole suggested.

  11. jasonguard says:

    Back at home, my wife tried both pimento cheeses and didn’t have much to say. I pressed and she said all she could taste was mayonnaise, especially in the Miss Bonnies. At least the Kroger had some spice. We debated it and she basicaly said, don’t ever serve me pimento cheese again. Maybe it’s the fact that she’s super pregnant. That tends to make you sensitive to certain things. But, maybe not. One of my coworkers heard the words “cheese salad” and almost wretched (tuna salad and egg salad don’t offend for some reason). Didn’t you grow up with this stuff? Well, she never agreed to eat it. No mayonnaise in my cheese spread please. That was basically her line in the sand.

  12. liz says:

    Fresh Market offers at least 3 kinds of PC: regular, jalapeno and chipotle. All are faves at our house!

  13. boscodagama says:

    I make a version out of manchego & chipotles en adobo.

    I first recall eating it in Seattle over 55 years ago. That’s hardly southron. It is mayonnaise obsession that is southron.

    From Tom Robbins’ VILLA INCOGNITO:

    “All Carolina folk are crazy for mayonnaise, mayonnaise is as ambrosia to them, the food of their tarheeled gods. Mayonnaise comforts them, causes the vowels to slide more musically along their slow tongues, appeasing their grease-conditioned taste buds while transporting those buds to a plane higher than lard could ever hope to fly. Yellow as summer sunlight, soft as young thighs, smooth as a Baptist preacher’s rant, falsely innocent as a magicians handkerchief, mayonnaise will cloak a lettuce leaf, some shreds of cabbage, a few hunks of cold potato in the simplest splendor, recycling their dull character, making them lively and attractive again, granting them the capacity to delight the gullet if not the heart…”

  14. Kendra says:

    Wow! thanks for the vote of confidence. I didn’t do pimento at Garnett’s out of respect for Kevin( Black SHeep) and Jason (Comfort) who were already doing it far too well. I went for Benedictine instead. But I will say I support this documentary 100% and am even a volunteer assistant for it! So jump on over to Kickstarter and give Nicole your support too!

  15. Kristel says:

    I actually really like the Kroger in-house pimento cheese spread! Never thought I’d say that about something made at Kroger, but it’s great!

  16. Hello, i think that i saw you visited my blog thus i came to “return the favor”. I’m trying to find things to enhance my website!I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!

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