Taste this

CorrespondentFebruary 13, 2009 

I really intended to eat only half. It was a substantial sandwich, after all, and it came with a generous side of slaw. Sure, I knew the chances were good that the pimento cheese sandwich at Parker and Otis would be excellent, before I even bit into it. I had ordered this particular sandwich, after all, because I had heard multiple raves about it.

But I am a professional eater, used to pacing myself, and I was aware that I needed to save room for a full review dinner I had scheduled that night. Half a sandwich would be plenty, I told myself firmly. I would take the other half home for lunch the next day.

So much for professionalism. By the second bite, my resolve had begun to weaken. Who could blame me? According to owner Jennings Brody, the pimento cheese is made from scratch using two different cheeses: a coarsely shredded aged yellow cheddar for that classic pungent flavor, and a finely shredded mild white cheddar for balance. The blend is punctuated with house-chopped roasted red peppers and bound with just enough mayonnaise (Duke's, of course, the only brand a self-respecting Southerner would use) for a creamy consistency.

This sublime amalgam is then spread thickly between slices of rustic European style sourdough from the Bakery at Rue Cler, and then grilled on a panini press until the bread is crisp and the cheese warm but not molten. I opted to gild the cholesterol lily with optional applewood-smoked bacon (a full five slices per sandwich). I passed on the locally grown tomatoes, on the theory that they would be better when they're in season.

I tried to bolster my will power with frequent bites of the slaw, a kaleidoscope of coarsely shredded red and green cabbage and carrots in a light creamy dressing tinged with cider vinegar, charmingly served in a coffee mug. But it was to no avail. By the time I finished the first half of the sandwich, I knew the second half would be coming home in my belly.

The grilled pimento cheese is one of many tempting sandwiches at Parker and Otis. Next time, maybe I'll order the muffuletta, or the curried chicken salad with mango and grapes on sunflower. Jennings Brody says her favorite is a tarragon chicken salad BLT, which isn't listed on the menu but is available on request. Maybe I'll try that. If I can resist the siren call of the grilled pimento cheese, that is.

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