CABBI Travel Blog

Fiscalini Cheddar Pimento Cheese served as a dip for tortilla chips

Fiscalini Cheddar Pimento Cheese

With a mahogany spiral staircase, three Italian marble fireplaces, clawfoot tubs, and its own Riesling vineyard, The Gables Wine Country Inn is a classic Sonoma wine country bed and breakfast. The elegantly restored Gothic Victorian sits on three-and-a-half acres and is surrounded by a circa 1855 redwood barn, an authentic milk house, and a field of fragrant lavender. Innkeepers Pam and Larry Willis are often described by guests as consummate hosts, overseeing all the special touches that make a stay at the Gables memorable and magical.

The Gables Wine Country Inn
The Gables Wine Country Inn

One of those special touches is the remarkable three-course breakfast Larry and Pam serve to their guests each morning. Highlighting ingredients that have been locally sourced (including those from the Gables’ own gardens), breakfast at the inn features made-from-scratch pastries that change daily. Entrees range from the inn’s luxe breakfast BLT to an ever-popular cloud soufflé. The innkeepers love sharing their favorite gourmet recipes with guests, and they’ve even published a cookbook of guest favorites. Among those favorites is a pimento cheese that stands out whether it’s used as a condiment for a quick sandwich, a hors d’oeuvres spread for a winter gathering, or a dip for a Super Bowl party. The recipe also excels as a building block for other recipes, like the pimento cheese grits soufflé that Gables’ guests go wild over.

Fiscalini Cheddar Pimento Cheese served over grits
Fiscalini Cheddar Pimento Cheese adds a cheesy punch to grits, deviled eggs, or burgers.

The story of pimento cheese begins in New York in the late 1800s, when a soft-ripened cheese (now known as cream cheese) was first introduced to the market. By the early 1900s, Georgia farmers were growing Spanish peppers (pimientos) and shipping them across the country. Food marketers soon combined these two new additions to the American food supply and sold them as a store-bought staple (at some point Americanizing “pimiento” into “pimento”). When the condiment’s popularity began to wane after World War II, Southerners made it their own, adding cheese and mayonnaise and solidifying its position as the South’s favorite non-pretentious spread. Now commonly referred to as “Southern pâté” or “caviar of the South,” in recent years the cheesy spread has made its way onto the menus of chic restaurants. In fact, pimento cheese has long been the most sought-after sandwich at the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta.

Dining room of the Gables Wine Country Inn
The dining room of the Gables Wine Country Inn

The Gables’ elevated version of this Southern classic replaces the mayo with the subtle garlic flavor of traditional aioli and the pimentos with the distinctive smoky heat of Calabrian chiles. Bold enough to stand out on a loaded burger yet smooth enough to spread on the thinnest of crostini, it’s the perfect addition to any dish that could benefit from a little bit of tang, heat, and lusciousness. As with most simple recipes, higher-quality ingredients will yield more flavor. But whether you make this recipe with all jarred, ready-made ingredients or you blend the aioli from scratch and fire-roast the peppers yourself, it doesn’t disappoint. As far as cheese goes, the Gables highly recommends an extra-sharp, nutty cheddar from California’s own Fiscalini Farmstead (they even made it part of the recipe’s name). Fiscalini cheese is available in many upscale grocery stores, but in a pinch, any aged British-style cheddar is the second-best choice.

Fiscalini Cheddar Pimento Cheese served as a spread.
Fiscalini Cheddar Pimento Cheese is delicious when spread onto a crostini, cracker, or avocado toast.

Fiscalini Cheddar Pimento Cheese

Courtesy of The Gables Wine Country Inn

Makes about 5 cups

  • 1/4 cup aioli
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1 pound Fiscalini cheddar cheese, grated 
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper
  • 2 to 3 Calabrian chilies
  • 1 ½ t Dijon mustard
Ingredients for Fiscalini Cheddar Pimento Cheese
Ingredients for Fiscalini Cheddar Pimento Cheese

Mix all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Serve immediately or bring to room temperature for 30 minutes after chilling.

Pimento cheese ingredients in a food processor.
Place all the ingredients for the pimento cheese into a food processor.
Blended pimento cheese ingredients in the food processor.
Puree the pimento cheese ingredients until smooth.
Fiscalini Cheddar Pimento Cheese served as a spread.
Fiscalini Cheddar Pimento Cheese is the perfect spread for a winter gathering.