Mac Attack - In Pursuit Of The Best Of All

via pinterest

I've met with a lot of intriguing information so far during my stint at the oil shop. Some of it is quite useful - like learning that the restaurant next door sells pain du chocolat the size of my face, or that even though the parking sign says I will be towed,
I won't really be towed. Other information is less useful, like my categorical knowledge of just how many different things people have called "Sel Magique" when that's what they're looking for but definitely not what they're asking for. One fun things about this job has been the opportunity to chat with our customers about the various things they do with our products - I've learned that (according to popular opinion) we carry the best marinara sauce in the nation and that you can put lavender dark balsamic over roasted golden beets for a stellar side dish. The artist in me loves the idea of pairing a purple flavor with a yellow food - a colorful palate! ha. ha. I'll be here all night.

Via Food52

It is so fun to work in an environment where part of my official job description is to talk about food and to make "cocktails" from our myriad of balsamic vinegars and olive oils, just to find new pairings to suggest. My favorite customers are those who come in without an idea of what they want and let me guide them. May I suggest the blood orange agrumato olive oil with our golden pineapple white balsamic vinegar? Yes, you want to be on the receiving end of my holiday gift suggestions because they will be delicious and exceptional and nobody needs wine when you've got an artisan vinegar.

via Rachel Schultz

But the real reason I'm here is to talk about macaroni and cheese. You all know how much I love mac & cheese. You know that I still think about the best macaroni and cheese I ever tasted in my life (it was from The Hair of The Dog Eatery in Virginia Beach, Virginia if you're wondering). You know that I get sad when the macaroni is awful and someone added more flour to rush the roux. You know that I've imperfectly attempted cauliflower mac & cheese and you know that I will pay the arm and leg required to get a tiny dish of delicious perfection from Panera even though I don't know why it costs so much. Heck, I'll even get my British friends to pay their arm and leg to taste that same macaroni and cheese while they're here in the States. It's a problem. So it probably won't come as any surprise to you to hear that ever since February or March I've been planning my "mac attack" - the point in the life of my blog where I get to try to formulate the best macaroni and cheese you ever did see. It'll involve plenty of shells - I have my eye on a particular bag of pasta we have in the shop right now - these big old shells the size of my thumb, or this small, concave, coin-shaped pasta. I'll have to decide once I'm in a better frame of mind for making actual decisions instead of thinking about how there ought to be a song about macaroni and cheese. Last Tuesday night some friends and I ended up at an Italian restaurant - I stood in front of a pasta poster and consulted it, trying to decide which variety of the depicted pastas would be best for my purposes. This led to a whole conversation with the Italian owner and the waiter about how the staff has to pass a quiz about the poster before being hired. Apparently getting an A on your pasta quiz is a thing. I love it.

this is a macaroni penguin - also cute.

Hey, look: I don't think you understand. I actually wrote about a particularly disappointing dish of macaroni in my journal once, mid-entry about the guy I liked. And no, I wasn't fifteen - I was twenty-three, thank you very much. There is a reason "macaroni" is more or less Italian for "little darling." It  deserves everything, okay? My family is pretty patient with me and even though it makes me sad that they aren't as in love with macaroni as I am, they still eat it with me and talk about it with me and wish me well in my pursuit of the ideal macaroni-and-cheese. So what I want from all of you is a discussion so that I can get a better idea of what goes into a perfect batch of macaroni-and-cheese. Do you start with a roux? Do you finish it on the stove or in the oven? Do you work with cheddar or a subtle, weepy brie? Are you "cheesier the better" or "more pasta, less sauce?" Please, please, please, PLEASE leave me a comment baring your soul on this issue because I need to know. I'm trying to do research and I just want to hear from the people on this: HOW DO YOU MAC? Thanks!

 Very love, much cheese, so pasta.
                        Rachel

10 comments

  1. I am obsessed with your writing, its like art.

    For my mac and cheese I start with a roux and make a cheese sauce to pour over the macaroni. I then pour the pasta/cheese mixture in a baking dish and add chunks of cheese and cream cheese and mix it all together. I then top it with shredded cheese and place it in the oven to get a consistency similar to a pre volcano eruption.

    I think your post calls for a mac-off. Everyone bring a small dish of mac and cheese and vote on your favorite.

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    1. KIM - a Mac-off. Oh my gosh, that would be amazing. Can we actually organize one of these? It would be so dang fun!
      Thank you for loving my writing - your words make me smile! And by the way, chunks of cream cheese and other cheese in AFTER the roux - brilliant!

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    2. Yes please, we definitely need to organize this!

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  2. The cheesier the better by far! Oven baked has always disappointed me. The edges get so crusty and dry, so I'll say in a pot, maybe with a sprinkle of extra-flavorful oven baked breadcrumb topping. Cheddar never seems to have enough flavor either, so I'm for the addition of a sharper cheese like gruyere or asiago. Can't wait so see how this develops!

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    1. Oooooh yeah, gruyere is where the action is in my opinion. It's so so so good. Although I definitely did love the one time where I had some "old croc" razor-sharp cheddar and threw it in there...

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  3. We are a mac and cheese family. But not sophisticated about it, sometimes downright awful . . . whisper, boxed. With that fake velveeta. But we've had various homemade versions, including what Mom called "depression mac and cheese" that had sun-dried tomatoes in it. I'm looking forward to your recipe.

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    1. "Depression mac and cheese" - wow! That sounds intriguing, but I love sundried tomatoes so I think I'm on board. Thank you - I'll definitely be sharing it once I work out the best formula!

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  4. Hmmm okay. 1 cheesier the better. 2. GOOD pasta, on the small side. I love classic elbow macaroni or baby shells. 3. Why do people put breadcrumbs on it? I will never know. Pass. 4. I think I like baked finish. 5. Multiple cheeses please! I like sharp cheddar.

    Can't wait to see what you come up with!
    -Christen

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    1. Yay! Thanks for the input! I made Batch One tonight - there is still work to be done but it's going well! :)

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  5. Thanks to Adventures in Odyssey, there is a song about mac&cheese. Granted it's a little, well, cheesy, but it exists: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apDfFXdCu7g

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