Monday, July 28, 2008


This one I did on my own. Noelle and I have started to realize that mac finds us. First, our friends all know that we're doing this blog so they feed us new places to check out all the time. But we're also attuned now, so whenever and wherever I eat out, the first thing I do is scan the menu for mac-n-cheese. Whym, the new 24 hour diner on Denny and 1st that replaced Minnie's, was just such a place. I met my friend, Ed, for lunch and politics. Mac-n-cheese was on the menu. $10. I ordered it.

I'm starting to realize that there is a mac-onomy (if you will forgive the neologism), families of mac-n-cheese. For instance, there is the NOLA style of baked spaghetti noodles in a faint cheese custard (found in Turkey, as well). There is the homestyle, ooey gooey mac-n-cheese, which is surprisingly elusive. There is the pasta in a cheese sauce that somehow doesn't equal mac-n-cheese. And there is the penne in a ceramic baking dish with a thin cheese sauce topped by chopped tomatoes, as at Crave and Whym.

Whym's version was distinctive in its intense garlicky overtones. In fact, I was more conscious of the garlic than the mac-n-cheese with this dish. The portion was a little small. It came with cheese topped foccaccia, which felt like a lot of carbs for one dish. (Sometimes I wish a side salad would automatically come with all mac.) If you love garlic, check it out, but I think it's safe to say I'm not a fan. Next time I'll try the burger.


Noelle and I talked tonight about how behind we are on our postings and it really is now or never when it comes to the tasting reviews. So, now it is.

We went to Twist on 1st and Bell tonight. They have a generous happy hour from 4 - 11 p.m. Sunday - Thursday. $2.50 house wines, $5 martinis, $2.50 small bites like really good chicken potstickers, and $5 for a human sized portion of crab mac-n-cheese.

1. Description: ribbed elbow pasta, melted shredded cheese topping, creamy sauce.

2. Portion size: Good. A little small, perhaps, but not overwhelming and I (with probably the smaller appetite of the two of us) was pretty satisfied once I let it settle.

3. Taste: I wasn't wowed. It tasted like pasta and cheese sauce. I couldn't discern any crab but Lorraine, who was guest tasting, said she did. It was good, with a nice pepper kick-back, but would have benefited from a touch of salt (none to be found on the table). All in all, I didn't find that it melded together into that magical alchemy of mac-n-cheese.

Still, Twist is a screaming deal and the hallway tables were lovely. I'd definitely go again... but I'd probably go with the chicken potstickers and the banana split.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Taking it International

I just returned from a marvelous two week trip to Turkey. Fantastic experience. I have never felt so welcomed or taken care of. Beautiful textures and colors everywhere. I loved being in such a different culture.

But that's not the important part. No. I am a mac-n-cheese huntress. I doubted that Turkey, home of the doner kebab and endless tomato and cucumber salads, would have mac-n-cheese, but I was duty bound to explore the possibility. Lo and behold...

Turkish mac-n-cheese. A.K.A. firinda makarna

Stylistically, it's strangely NOLA like-- noodles baked into a casserole with a bland egg /cheese sauce. Like many things in Turkey, it had parsley and onion. It also had a hint of spice, which, according to the recipes I'm looking up online now, is nutmeg. Unfortunately, I only got to try it once at a cafeteria style restaurant on Istiklal Caddesi, so I have no comparison, but the other versions I saw looked similar. Wherever you go, there it is. Mac-n-cheese, bringing the world together through a shared language of pasta and cheese.

(Apologies for the lousy photos. I dropped my gorgeous camera in the Mediterranean and was stuck with a disposable film camera for the rest of my trip.)

Mea Culpa

Noelle and I have been eating mac-n-cheese. Promise. We're at least three experiences behind on our posting (it IS July, after all...), but it's been busy what with boyfriends (her, mostly) and travel (me, mostly) and job drama (both of us to varying degrees). By August, I will have posted what I have.