More than 11 million pounds of pimento cheese have left the check-out counters of Fresh Market stores since the product's introduction in 1983. To celebrate its staple spread, the grocery chain recently called dibs on a new food holiday, declaring April 9 as National Pimento Cheese Day.
From noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, The Fresh Market will feature free samples of its pimento cheese alongside chef demonstrations. Interestingly, the holiday also coincides with this week's Masters tournament at Augusta National Golf Club, known for popular pimento cheese sandwiches.
Signs throughout the 100-plus Fresh Market locations will highlight the grocer's five favorite ways to use the Southern classic:
• Eat it straight from the tub off the end of a cracker, chip, fork or finger.
• Smear it onto a grilled, juicy burger (though CL suggests stuffing the patty with pimento cheese before throwing it on the grill).
• Stir a scoop into cooked pasta. Top with crisp, crumbled bacon and bread crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until warm and bubbly.
• Scoop out the center of piping hot baked potatoes and mix with pimento cheese, sour cream, cayenne, salt and pepper. Fill the potato skins with the mixture and broil until bubbly on top.
• Place your favorite into the freezer for 30 minutes to 1 hour until firm. Using a spoon, form chilled pimento cheese into bite-size balls and roll in finely chopped pecans. Serve as a cocktail nibble.
The region's Fresh Markets operate in Valrico, Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Bradenton and Sarasota.