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Mac and Cheese March 19, 2008

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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Last night I attended a mac-and-cheese bakeoff at the restaurant one town over. The one where Beatrix Kiddo works as a bartender. Some of you 365ers will remember her.

Apparently Beatrix came up with this idea after hearing at least two people repeatedly claim that they make the best mac and cheese ever. She decided to call their bluff. Then friends of hers found out that their 8-month-old daughter has cancer. So she turned it into a benefit evening.

I figured that one the original braggarts had been Fat Red Ant, another ex-365er, and there was no way I was going to miss out on this opportunity to taste her mac and cheese. (Not a euphemism! People, please!) As this kind of competition is usually blind (and it was), I had to rely on her to clue me in as to which concoction was hers. She promised me in advance that it would be the one she was pointing to, saying “Vote for this one.”

I picked my sister up on the way, and we met my freshly shorn husband there. Alison and I beat the crowd and planted ourselves at the end of the bar. Beatrix, who would soon be quite overworked, happily served us, being sure to remark, “Really slammin’ ’em tonight, eh?” as I ordered my second beer before the tasting began.

There were twenty-four entries. Twenty-four. We were given a long strip of paper with twenty-four numbers on it. The idea was to tear the numbers off and place them by the mac on your plate, but, well—you can imagine. I don’t think twenty-four tastes would have even fit on a plate. Once you’d determined your mac of choice, you’d hand your greasy numbered vote to the emcee.

In retrospect, we should have had a better plan. We could have assigned eight tastes per plate to the three of us and been organized about sharing. I went back after the first plate, theoretically to try the ones I hadn’t, but in the end, there were entries I didn’t try and a few entries I doubled up on.

We spent a good bit of time talking about the merits of ones we liked with Grid Gal, a 365er who abandoned the project way too soon and whom I run into about once a year. We agreed that Leo’s entry was pretty damn good, what with all that fresh shrimp. One guy—Frank?—had set up his like a shepherd’s pie, over beef. But both of those guys cook for money, and even though I had seconds on both, one could argue that neither was mac and cheese in its purest form, an argument that is quite comfortable to make while taking a few more bites of those sullied entries.

Fat Red Ant’s mac and cheese was, in fact, freakin’ awesome. Perhaps I didn’t care enough to take the time to be truly scientific and discerning, but I had no problem casting my vote her way. (I’m not sure the others were so easily swayed.) Sadly, she faced another challenge: she and Shepherd’s Pie Guy were assigned numbers that—upside down—could be read as the other’s. Nine, I wrote on a tiny piece of paper.

We didn’t stay til the end of the evening. We ate, drank, were merry, dropped bucks for a good cause, voted, and went home and collapsed. I e-mailed the Ant this morning for details as to how it all turned out, but I’ve heard nothing back yet. I don’t think that’s a good sign.

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Comments»

1. Deloney - March 19, 2008

In Deloney’s Bar & Grill the secret is lots of onion and chili powder, and crunchy breadcrumbs on top. It’s a winter Sunday night staple around here.

2. betty slocombe - March 20, 2008

chili powder, prawns, beef? Barbarians! Sounds like fun though……

3. Helen - March 20, 2008

What a great idea. Macaroni and cheese is right up there with grilled cheese as premium comfort food. If you manage to get the recipe from her please share…

4. indigobunting - March 20, 2008

Deloney: Sounds fab. In fact, one of my favorites the other night had a bit of a hot kick.

Helen: I’m in the midst of confirming her recipe, which I’ve heard rumor is the one a big name uses. Will let you know.

Apparently FRA came in second to professional chef Leo with the shrimp. Best news, though, is the event raised a lot more money than they expected!

5. Susan - March 20, 2008

Yes, the recipe. Don’t forget the recipe! Although I can’t imagine any mac & cheese better than my dad’s . . . at least in my memory.

6. Cedar Waxwing - March 21, 2008

I adore mac and cheese of any kind from the packaged kraft kind (although we switched to Annies brand a couple of years ago) to a gourmet sort I get at a local French restaurant. Looking forward to the recipe of Fire Red Ant.

7. indigobunting - March 24, 2008

Apparently this is just one of FRA’s favorite recipes, and she says she adjusts to taste, and instead of using the bread crumb toppings, she uses wheat thins smashed up with a bit of cooking spray:

http://www.marthastewart.com/portal/site/mslo/menuitem.3a0656639de62ad593598e10d373a0a0/?vgnextoid=e2ba2e912b11f010VgnVCM1000003d370a0aRCRD

8. indigobunting - March 31, 2008

Mrs. S: WordPress did not alert me that your comment was there to be modified…and here it is, 11 days later…


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