Sunday, April 24, 2011

I Shouldn't be Eating This - Part I

More and more restaurants are adding comfort food to their menus as small plates or side items and, to my hedonistic delight, they all seem to be adding Macaroni & Cheese.  I'm planning to sample my way though this familiar and nostalgic territory wherever it is offered, so watch for future posts if you have a soft spot for this classic.

Delicious cheese laden goodness.  Beware the the baker,
they broil it in a blast furnace.
For my first foray, I chose Bread Bar at Century City.  I have actually had their Mac & Cheese 3 times before, but this was the first time I remembered to take a photo before it was all gone.  Silly me.  Bread Bar qualifies their Mac & Cheese as a side dish, but you can make a meal of it by ordering a side salad or soup.  Like all dishes at the cafe, it arrives on a rustic wood breadboard (very cute) and the cast iron baker it's broiled in keeps it warm in perpetuity.

The chef uses Cavatappi pasta (a spiral tube) which adds a little variety from the standard issue Elbow Macaroni, and also hold an nice amount of cheese outside and inside.  The cheese sauce itself is a rich (and I do mean rich) buttery mix of several cheeses, I'm thinking Emmenthal, White Cheddar, maybe a little Gruyere Swiss.  It's not sharp at all, nor is it pungent or piquant.  It's got a great nutty flavor (from the cheese, not nutmeg, as I have seen in other Mac & Cheese dishes), and the perfect consistency; not runny and not like a custard.  It's topped with shredded cheese and broiled, so you really do get to go to cheesy town with this dish.

My cautious helping.
One word of warning, do not eat this alone.  I had it all to myself one day and it was so rich (I'm purging dairy from my diet, but I lapse every now and then) that I found myself absolutely cramped up in wretched pain within two hours.  So, proceed with caution if you have a delicate system.  When I took the photos for this, I was sharing with my friend Veronica and I had a much smaller portion, for my own safety.  True, I shouldn't have been eating it, but decadence is always more enjoyable with a soupcon of pain.

- Ian

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