Aug. 15, 2012 - Issue #878: Snap Turns 30
Grown Up Mac And Cheese
Sophisticated takes on a childhood favourite
For many of us, the ultimate comfort food is mac and cheese; it's the stuff childhood memories are made of. Though the ingredients are simple, a casserole of gooey, cheesy elbow macaroni topped with bread crumbs can warm the heart as much as it satisfies the taste buds.
Though the best bowl you've ever had was probably made by your mother, chefs throughout the city have been whipping up versions that are sure to bring a smile to your face. While a box of Kraft Dinner may be one of the best deals at the grocery store, it's time to ditch the package of processed powdered cheese and give your palate a more sophisticated taste.
Zinc Restaurant in the Art Gallery of Alberta is known for its immaculate presentation of gourmet food, but it is its daily mac and cheese special that is a lunch favourite.
"It's one of our most popular dishes," explains sous chef, Doreen Prei. "It changes every day. Depending on which chef works the line that day, and the kind of mood we are in."
A well-designed dish of mac and cheese at Zinc is anything but traditional.
"We serve it in a beautiful bowl and it always looks nice. We sometimes add potato strings for a crunch, or micro greens with colour for a garnish," says Prei. "It can be crazy; we've even done a foie gras demi-glace. It's certainly not the regular bread crumbs topping."
Ranging from meat lovers to vegetarian, diners can be treated to anything from a bacon lobster with a carbonara sauce to beef cheeks with mushrooms and pearl onions, accented with goat cheese and a balsamic reduction. No matter the ingredients, the dish is always served up for $16.
While the winter months often mean heartier fare to warm you from the cold, spring will feature a lighter version with seasonal ingredients. Whether it's the house-smoked salmon asparagus in a lemon cream reduction or a base made from vegetable purée, the kitchen staff at Zinc are sure to serve up a bowl of goodness of gourmet comfort.
Other gourmet versions of mac and cheese around the city:
Signature truffled lobster mac n' cheese: A sophisticated serving of pasta shells with baby lobster and shiitake mushrooms in white truffle oil. This is not your mother's mac and cheese, but if you are a fan of truffle oil, you might become a lunchtime regular at the Hardware Grill. (Lunch only, $17)
Crab mac and cheese: If you can brave the crowd of tourists on Bourbon Street in West Edmonton Mall, this creamy baked macaroni and cheese with snow crab and aged white cheddar gets rave reviews. Served with house-made ketchup. (Lunch $16.50, dinner $25)
Lux Steakhouse & Bar
Truffled lobster mac 'n' cheese: This popular side dish serves two and is ultra rich in flavour, a taste so rich you may have difficulties finishing that last bite, but you'll find a way. ($13)
Chop Steakhouse & Bar
Aged white cheddar mac and cheese: Designed to be a "great with steaks" accompaniment, a bite of this ooey gooey delight is sure to have cheese strings from your lips to your fork. A bargain side dish. ($5)
Traditional comfort mac n' cheese:
Blue Plate Diner
One of the most popular dishes on the menu, the Scooby-Doo corkscrew pasta adds playfulness to a creamy béchamel sauce loaded with cheddar, mozzarella, & asiago cheese. (Lunch $10.50, dinner $13 with a side dish.)
Colonel Mustard's Canteen
Served with aged cheddar white wine sauce & torn bread crust, this has a traditional flavour but at a higher price. ($16)
Cavatappi noodles, sharp cheddar cheese, garlic toast. ($10, or you can add grilled chicken, chicken apple sausage, or hamburger mix for $4.)
Dish and the runaway spoon
Oven-baked pasta with gouda, asiago and cheddar and a parsley garlic butter crumb topping. (served with Caesar salad, $15.75) vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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