I am a big big believer in focus leading to quality. (Note: not just a big believer. That’s TWO bigs!) I enjoy all sorts of restaurants that focus on one item — chocolate, hot dogs, bagels, etc. But one of my favorite foods is macaroni and cheese. It’s a perfect food item in my opinion. And honestly, I grew up eating a lot of orange powder on my elbows. It didn’t ruin me though. Over the years I have experimented often with finding just the right combination of the right shape of not-overcooked pasta, non-rubbery cheese, just the right amount of crunchy topping, and flavor with a capital F. In my kitchen I am still an infinite distance from my goal.
(I will claim a small victory here in that my children have been trained carefully to categorically reject the orange stuff and prefer freshly grated high quality cheese and butter on their pasta. Anyone with small kids knows that this is just a baby step, but an important one nonetheless.)
Wandering by Supermac in Manhattan today I wondered if there was a break in the clouds. True, it’s not something that I was able to make myself, but I’m a big believer in relying on professionals to do their jobs — especially when it comes to food. I’m also a big fan of single purpose restaurants. I don’t want to eat somewhere that makes sushi, steak, pasta, and “gourmet” ice cream. I’d rather stop at a variety of small establishments each doing their best at one thing. My perfect world is a bunch of stalls – think of them as slightly bigger than street food carts.
Supermac has some variety on the menu but it’s all fundamentally macaroni and cheese. I got a small serving of the basic. And honestly, I loved it. The topping was the special house blend of toasted and seasoned breadcrumbs. They had a nice uneven texture to them almost like the fancy sea salt flakes you buy. The seasoning was nice, and they weren’t too baked in to the top. They weren’t quite resting on top either. They were somewhere in between. Most importantly there was just the right amount. You don’t want to run out of crunchy stuff while you still have a bunch of noodles and cheese to eat. Should part of your experience be crunchless? I say no!
The noodles were cooked nicely. And the cheese? I got the four cheese mix. Getting the cheese right is very difficult. Not only does it need to be cream and flavorful, but it has to mix completely with the noodles. And it also needs to stay pretty liquidy. I’m not a fan of gelatinous cheese. I spied the Supermac folks using a saute pan to prepare my noodle cheese mixture. Excellent work. No pre-done stuff for them. Everything was to order.
All in all, I can’t wait for Supermac to open up a branch in Seattle. Next time, I’ll have to try some of the variations they serve.