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VISIT TO BERNHEIM: In search of wildlife, trolls, and pimento cheese

By Bernheim

Source: The News-Enterprise
By Becca Owsley
April 7, 2019

In search of wildlife, trolls and pimento cheese

Sometimes in life you just need to do a little exploring.

Recently, my mom and I explored the giant natural art pieces at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest. Seeing the giant trolls on a beautiful day was great.

But, I had a bonus food experience that made the day even better.

Before visiting the giants we ate at Isaac’s Cafe in Bernheim’s visitors center for a special treat.

Most people who know me know I love pimento cheese. It’s one of my favorites.

On the menu was a pimento cheese sandwich called “The Harper!” It’s named after the golden eagle that is tracked during it’s migration to and from Bernheim.

Harper the eagle has a wingspan of about seven feet and weights 10.4 pounds. They figure Harper is at least 10-years-old and has a talon that measures 2.5 inches.

The tribute to Harper, the sandwich’s namesake, is in the jam that tops the sandwich. It represents his annual migration from Kentucky to Canada.

Canada is represented by the maple syrup and Kentucky represented by bourbon, said Kathy Hart, visitor services assistant manager at Bernheim.

The folks at Isaac’s Cafe were kind enough to give me the recipe so I could try to recreate the dish at home. Their recipe, however, is for a large amount, equal to what is used in the cafe. They advised it probably needs to be at least halved to use for a typical family.

There’s one thing you can say about this sandwich, it has lots of cheese. It has medium sharp cheddar cheese, cream cheese, smoked gouda and Kenny’s Farmhouse Norwood cheese.

The last cheese may take some searching. It’s made in nearby Barren County, but not always found on store shelves. When I made it, I could not find the cheese locally so sadly, my version of the sandwich had no Norwood.

I would advise making the Maple Bourbon Onion Jam that tops the sandwich first. It takes the longest time to make and you don’t want it skillet hot when you put it on the sandwich.

Making the jam make take a little extra effort, but it’s worth it. It is why the sandwich is called “The Harper!” after all.

If you can’t find wheatberry bread, you always can use another type of wheat bread.

The pimento cheese didn’t disappoint at the cafe or in my kitchen.

While it’s good to make at home, I advise going to Issac’s Cafe to try it there. Things always are better when someone else makes it.

And while there, learn a little about the sandwich’s namesake and visit some giant trolls. Take an adventure in food and nature.


The Harper!

2 slices wheatberry bread
5 pickle slices
1/3 cup pimento cheese (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon maple bourbon onion jam (recipe follows)
Greens, for garnish
Pimento Cheese
½ 4-pound bag shredded medium sharp cheddar cheese
1 8-ounce block cream cheese, softened
½ cup Kenny’s Farmhouse Norwood cheese, shredded
½ cup smoked gouda, shredded
½ cup pimentos
3 cups mayonnaise (more if needed to make it smooth)
2 tablespoons Pop’s pickle juice
1 tablespoon hot sauce
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.

Maple Bourbon Onion Jam
¼ cup butter
4 cups chopped onion (approx. 4 medium onions)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
¼ cup bourbon
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup balsamic vinegar

Heat the butter in a medium heavy-bottom skillet.

Add onions and sautee on medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the onions are tender and translucent. Add salt, pepper and thyme. Lower heat to medium low and cook another 10 minutes.

Add bourbon, maple syrup and balsamic vinegar and return the skillet to medium heat. Once the jam starts to bubble, cook another 15 minutes until the liquids are absorbed.

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