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Cooking with Parind

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Hello everyone. My name is Parind Vora. I’m the chef/owner of Lockhart Bistro in the charming Lockhart square. In this column we talk cooking, tricks to cooking, and sometimes eating.

We just got back from our catering at the Masters in Augusta, Georgia, so FYI ,the Bistro is now open our regular hours. Augusta National is a magical place where golf is revered as a game of quiet professionals with the upmost sporting integrity and a game where talent, skill and luck wins the day over money and bravado.

This was sadly our last year to do a hospitality catering after doing it annually since 2008 as we are just too busy at the Bistro. I was crushed personally that the National did not have their famous Georgia peach ice cream sandwiches this year. We had to close for a week here and boy did we hear about it from our customers.

I grew up mostly in Columbia, S.C., which is about an hour drive from Augusta, Ga. As a duly ordained southerner, I still crave pimento cheese and boiled peanuts pretty hard more than several times a year. If you’ve had an animated discussion with me at the restaurant you may have noticed that I get that Charlestonian elongated drawl when I’m discussing the South.

One of the biggest sellers at the concessions at the Masters is their pimento cheese sandwich, which can be purchased for the lofty sum of $1.50. Not kidding. Only one dolla and fiddy cents. This at an event where I have seen tickets cost over $3,000 for a single day. Augusta National has no control of ticket prices as there is a secondary market formed that buys and sells the tickets multiple times during the day due to extra-ordinary demand.

Augusta National does have control over the price of its concession’s food pricing. It is all about the game of golf in spirit and the flesh during the Masters so Augusta National made a decision to make the course a sanctuary from the commercial side of the event, thus it voluntarily loses money every year on its food sales.

Pimento cheese is literally ‘pepper’ cheese and it’s made with roasted and peeled true Spanish piquillo peppers, but you can use also substitute roasted red bell pepper or order the piquillo pepper online in a can or jar (my suggestion).

The recipe is quite simple, so let’s get started. I’ve specified certain brands that are location specific but feel free to substitute.

Ingredients:

Southern Pimento Cheese

1 cup cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup Dukes mayonnaise (don’t use lite/diet)

2 cups freshly shredded Tillamook sharp white cheddar cheese (my substitution versus sharp yellow cheddar cheese)

¼ whole nutmeg freshly ground

¼ cup diced canned or jarred roasted imported piquillo pepper or fresh roasted red bell pepper

¼ cup PUREED canned or jarred roasted imported piquillo pepper or fresh roasted red bell pepper

½ clove of garlic finely minced into a paste

Salt & pepper to paste

Mix by hand while ensuring that all the softened cream cheese is incorporated. Pay close attention to its texture.  Make sure its creamy and not dry. Refrigerate after making. Best after sitting overnight like soup.

Augusta National serves this on a special bread that has a proportion of rye flour in a pullman style (square top vs round top slices) loaf. A great substitution is any one of the white wheat breads. This cheese is also great on burgers, crackers etc. When it’s served with refrigerated bread and butter pickles it’ll make you want to slap yo’ momma; it’s that good!

I would serve this cheese with a nicely chilled New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a slightly dusty but floral Cinsault blend from Lebanon.

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