The Great Pimento Cheese-off

Pimento Cheese

Chris Edwards

There’s great responsibility that comes with choosing the winners of the Best of the Best. And we take that seriously — especially when it comes to testing out things like the city’s best fries or burgers, or, in this case, pimento cheese that can be purchased to enjoy at home. Here’s a peek behind the scenes at the intense process of how we choose what we choose.

Step 1

Months before the day of the tasting, our editorial team starts the search for the city’s top pimento cheese. We ask family and friends, taste local versions and national brands, and narrow our search to six mouthwatering cheeses.

Step 2

The date is set and now the actual mouthwatering begins. Editors share the task of making pimento cheese pickups. (Side note: want to get funny looks? Go to Laurel Market at 8 a.m. and ask for a pound of pimento cheese.)

Step 3

The cheese is scooped unceremoniously onto paper plates, each one labeled on the bottom to ensure anonymity. Reduced-fat Wheat Thins are provided for accompaniment, because if you’re going to be testing pounds of pimento cheese at 10 a.m., you have to save calories somewhere.

Step 4

Editors, art directors, and interns dig in.

Step 5

Debate ensues. Eating continues. More debate ensues. More eating. This goes on until the Wheat Thins are almost gone.

Step 6

Ballots are passed out and the top cheeses are ranked. The two local-market cheeses, Laurel and Common, are at the top. (See, we knew eating local was cool for a reason!) A runoff ensues. Wheat Thin numbers dwindle.

Step 7

The Common Market’s pimento cheese is declared the winner. This savory cheese has the perfect consistency (just enough mayo and heavy on the pepper jack cheese) and the perfect taste (a little bit of kick but enough creaminess to balance it out). You can buy the best in town for $8.99 per pound — or on one of Common Market’s famed sandwiches. 2007 Commonwealth Ave., 704-334-6209; 1515 S. Tryon St., 704-332-7782,

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