Thomas Jefferson introduced macaroni and cheese to America in 1802 upon returning to Virginia from Europe. In 1937 the Kraft Company put it in a box. Growing up, it was my favourite meal. I preferred the spirals. Sometimes I’d dare to throw in pieces of a hot dog. Since then my tastes have broadened—I no longer eat fluorescent orange powder. I do, however, still crave the warmth and comfort of a good hearty bowl of mac ‘n’ cheese. In this, happily, I am not alone. Here are five spots to hit up for the dish that brings out the kid in us all.
S’Mac, New York
Located in New York’s East Village, S’Mac is devoted solely to serving a variety of mac ‘n’ cheese. Crunchy, creamy, gooey goodness is given its proper due. Build your own! There are even gluten free and dairy free options. From Cajun to Masala the variety is quite imaginative. I indulge in The Alpine with Gruyere and a slab of bacon, and the Parisienne with creamy Brie, roasted figs, shiitake mushrooms and fresh rosemary. Yum!
Chicago q, Chicago
Sweet Home Chicago is home of the deep dish, so dive into this: a sharp and creamy muenster and cheddar blend that marries the pit master’s trimmings of burnt ends, pulled pork, pulled chicken and…fried alligator meat.
When one type of cheese is not enough, try six! Swiss, Brie, Emmental, Cheddar, Cream Cheese and Mozzarella all combine to embrace a fusilli pasta for a highly nuanced symphony of cheese. Bread crumble adds a layer of crunch. Now, if that’s not enough, Le Macaroni Cochon is that same marvellous recipe of cheese enlivened with sausages, braised bacon and carmelized onions.
In the spirit of “Nobody puts baby in the corner,” this side dish is fit for a main. Orzo pasta lavished in grana padano and fontina cheeses, and studded with a generous portion of lobster is creamy decadence.
Caren’s Wine and Cheese Bar, Toronto
Spicy Baked Mac & Cheese is off-the-hook goodness. Penne noodles layered and textured in a sharp blend of Sao Miguel, cheddar, Swiss, and parmigiano-regiano cheeses is spiked with a kick of chilli flakes. Add chicken or chorizo for the mic drop. Creamy, hot, and simmering, it beckons a pairing with the house wine.
Adam Waxman is an award winning travel journalist focusing on food, wine and well being. As well as an actor in film, television and formerly, the Stratford Festival, he is the Associate Publisher and Executive Editor of DINE and Destinations magazine.