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Posts made in: 'Tournament of Mac and Cheese' (59) Currently Viewing: 51 - 59 of 59

June 13, 2014 at 9:24am

Mac and Cheese Madness: Steel Creek American Whiskey Co.

Lobster mac and cheese in a cowboy bar - yeehaw!

Macaroni and cheese may not be duck à l'orange, but it transcends so-called gastronomy by inspiring devotion and embodying sustenance. Adults fight over whose mother's recipe wins out. Friends have mac-and-cheese cook-offs. Even fancy restaurants try to capitalize on such greatness by adding things such as chorizo, cotija and aged English cheddar. Hmmm, that actually sounds delicious.

Anyway, it's Friday. You've had a tough week and you really want to treat yourself to make it all better. Best way to indulge? My weekly Mac and Cheese Madness report. This week I suggest wrangling the lobster mac and cheese at Steel Creek American Whiskey Co. Yup, this cowboy and whiskey bar not only features 3,000 awesome whiskeys (I could be off a tad) but a worthy mac and cheese to boot.

Steel Creek's lobster mac and cheese is my first creamy version since I began this insane weekly journal. I'm talking exceedingly creamy. The cheese-to-pasta ratio is perfect - pasta isn't left swimming in the cheese or, horror of horrors, there's so little of the good stuff. The only thing is that the subtle flavor of the lobster is hidden in the cheese. The lobster flavor is subtle but pervasive and really pops when you happen upon a bit of claw meat. But I still wouldn't kick this mac n' cheese out of bed.

Steel Creek, which is celebrating its one-year anniversary this weekend, has eased my disdain for mixing seafood and cheese.

STEEL CREEK AMERICAN WHISKEY CO., 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday-Saturday, 4:30-11 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday, 1114 Broadway, Tacoma, 253.627.1229

June 6, 2014 at 10:58am

Mac and Cheese Madness: STINK Cheese and Meat

Why can't the mushroom truffle mac and cheese find a home on STINK Cheese and Meat's daily menu? Why STINK? Why?

The elegance of the re-imagined comfort food crafted at STINK Cheese and Meat shines through in every dish, and its mac and cheese is no exception. Proprietor Kris Blondin dons a lab jacket, offering a different and highly creative version of the dish every week. All cooking is chemistry, but Blondin's macaroni and cheese feels more like the work of alchemy.

Last week, Blondin changed her mac and cheese roux.

"I came up with a combination of sharp cheddar and my old cheddar, and added some cream cheese," says Blondin. "I've been playing with it a lot, making it more decadent. Not insanely decadent. I found the sharp alone was separating the béchamel. So I added mild cheddar to the sharp, and it seemed to bind better. Then, I added a quarter stick of cream cheese, which also helps bind it together.

Last week, Blondin debuted the new roux in one of STINK's most popular, and most delicious mac and cheese recipes - the mushroom truffle mac.

"I infuse the béchamel with truffle salt, to keep the price reasonable, then I season the mushrooms with truffle salt, then a sprinkle of the salt on top along with the homemade bread crumbs and herbs from my garden. It's not too salty," says Blondin.

STINK's mac and cheese special, as well as its grilled cheese sandwich special, change every week, and by week I mean Tuesday through Saturday. For the next two days, you may delight in the "Sweet Mac," starring three cheese - Jack, cheddar and blue - and a grilled cheese Cuban, a Swiss, pulled-pork, ham, pickle and Dijon sandwich.

"The Cuban ties in with the film Chef now playing at The Grand Cinema," says Blondin.

As if we needed a reason.

STINK CHEESE AND MEAT, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, its wine bar stays open later, 628 St. Helens, Tacoma, 253.426.1347

May 30, 2014 at 1:13pm

Mac and Cheese Madness: The Forum in downtown Tacoma

Mac and cheese at The Forum in downtown Tacoma. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

It's spring - but if you don't believe the weather, check your highball glass. You'll find a farmers' market's worth of fruits in seasonal cocktails around the South Sound, including The Forum in downtown Tacoma. The hip restaurant and bar in the historic Olympus Hotel - think Paddy Coyne's with more AC/DC and Arcade Fire - has released a batch of infused booze, perfect for its outdoor patio - which makes for good people watching. You may choose from Black Cherry Peach Gin, Raspberry Vodka, Blueberry Gin, Pecan Bourbon and Cucumber Lime Vodka. Sip the infusions on the rocks, or create a cocktail.

OK, OK, I'm getting to it. Yes, The Forum has a dish full of delicious fat, cream, cheese and nostalgia. The Forum's thick, homemade mac and cheese is gobsmacked with cheddar and Swiss mixed with meaty elbow macaroni. It's not elegant. It's not trying to show off. It's just happy, fun food, served with crunchy garlic bread and Pico de Gallo.

THE FORUM, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight Sunday, 815 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.830.2151

May 23, 2014 at 11:01am

Mac and Cheese Madness: Rock Wood Fired Pizza & Spirits

Get Back Mac and Cheese can help. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Don't look at me like that. I have a soft spot in my heart for Rock Wood Fired Pizza & Spirits, ever since it opened next to The Swiss back in the mid-'90s when it was called Rock Pasta Brick Oven Pizza. After any major trauma in my life, a dish of Get Back Mac and Cheese from The Rock (it's a classic rock themed joint) has bolstered me and given me a full belly and clear mind with which to plow ahead - even on rainy days when "Landslide" is on its hi-fi and parking tickets are being placed on windshields. That mac and cheese is what I want when I'm sick, when I'm sad, when I'm happy, even when I'm not particularly hungry. It's obscenely velvety, with a four-cheese, rich cream sauce (cheddar, mozzarella, Romano, Jack) that clings to every square millimeter of giant chunks of chewy peppered bacon and penne pasta. Served in a piping hot skillet, the dish forms a protective layer of love around my heart. Pairs well with their classic-rock themed beers, which are brewed from Fish Brewing Company in Olympia.

ROCK WOOD FIRED PIZZA & SPIRTS, 11:30 a.m. to midnight daily, 1920 S. Jefferson Ave., Tacoma, 253.272.1221, also in Federal Way, Lacey, Lake Tapps and Puyallup

LINK: Other South Sound mac and cheese dishes

May 16, 2014 at 11:17am

Mac and Cheese Madness: Engine House No. 9 tailgate version

Engine House No. 9's Tailgate Mac and Cheese

It's Friday, which means I tempt you with another South Sound mac and cheese dish I believe is worthy of the Tournament of Mac and Cheese next spring. Of course, you, the reader, will ultimately decided the fate of the dish when nominations open in February 2015.

Wildly annoying name aside, Lit'l Smokiesaren't necessarily so bad on their own. What's not to like about a bite-sized pellet of sodium and grease from various protein sources after all? Where Smokies take the step from kitschy tooth-picked to awesome is when a cheese sauce starts to get involved.

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May 9, 2014 at 11:35am

Mac and Cheese Madness: Skillet at Smoke + Cedar in Tacoma

Smoke + Cedar's Skillet Mac + Cheese is a plus. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

While many people who head to the newly opened Smoke + Cedar are looking for the slow-roasted prime rib, the half-pound chuck burger, Team Dino's cocktails and the awesome happy hour, I drive up the hill for the mac and cheese. An order brings the perfect amount of orecchiette pasta (means "little ears") mixed in with owner Gordon Naccarato's version of the Augusta National pimento cheese recipe, then spackled with panko and crumbled  "Ritzy" fire cracker crumbs. The mac and cheese is served in hot skillet, which keeps it hot and prevents the concoction from sticking to the pan - good idea, since you don't want to let a single bite escape. it's freakin' delicious.

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May 2, 2014 at 11:14am

Mac and Cheese Madness: Paesan Kitchen in Tacoma

Get baked at Paesan!

It's Friday, which means I tempt you with another South Sound mac and cheese dish I believe is worthy of the Tournament of Mac and Cheese next spring. Of course, you, the reader, will ultimately decided the fate of the dish when nominations open in February 2015.

First, a touch of mac and cheese history. Thomas Jefferson helped make macaroni and cheese popular in the United States after sampling it in Italy. He brought home a pasta maker and introduced the dish in 1802. Mac and cheese is obviously the food of presidents, for it was also Ronald Reagan's favorite. Reagan enjoyed a little dry mustard and Worcestershire in his mac and cheese.

OK, on to this week's mac and cheese suggestion. ...

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April 25, 2014 at 1:09pm

Mac and Cheese Madness: The Crown Bar in Tacoma

Crown Bar's mac and cheese pairs well with Scuttlebutt Gale Force IPA. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Following on the successful heels of the Weekly Volcano's Tournament of Burgers, our editorial staff will present a new NCAA Basketball tournament-like event next spring.  Once again we'll host a number of daily games that pit one restaurant against another, leaving it to the readers to decide the final outcomes all the way down to a final four and then a grand championship. (For newbie readers, Olympia's Westside Tavern edged out Tacoma's Maxwell's Restaurant in the final seconds of this year's Tournament of Burgers.) 

The competition for March 2015 will pit 64 South Sound restaurants that offer the ultimate comfort food - macaroni and cheese.

As I explained last week, my goal is to report on a South Sound mac and cheese dish every week up to the torunament - to spread the cheesy word, ease into tournament research and, obviously, build hype. I will highlight the best, skipping reports of orange cheddar and glistening pile of noodles that hold no nutritional value whatsoever.

Let's begin with one of my favorites, the Crown Bar's mac and cheese.

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April 18, 2014 at 3:17pm

Tournament of Mac and Cheese primer

These two items combined is crazy delicious.

I haven't worked off the 20 pounds of weight gained during the Tournament of Burgers. In fact, the extra weight has become my friend. The fat and I reminisce about each burger joint, becoming all mushy and nostalgic over a last call burger at Shake Shake Shake, pairing Manhattans with Maxwell's Walker Burger, eating smoked burgers next to someone getting canned at Famous Dave's, playing human pinball at Five Guys in Lakewood, a rowdy Friday burger night at Tournament of Burgers Champion Westside Tavern, and so on.

Since announcing mac and cheese will be next year's tournament, my body fat is all ready thumbing through the Big and Tall catalog.

I'm prepared to begin the mac and cheese madness immediately. Why wait? Send that lentil soup back in the kitchen! That tramp will go through me in 30 minutes. My goal is to report on a South Sound mac and cheese dish every week. Those who have followed my past columns know I will most likely fail. And, dropping in on Tacoma's STINK Cheese & Meat for its weekly mac and cheese special doesn't count, although I will not surrender that pleasure.

Let's start with my favorite mac and cheese recipe.

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Served, a blog by the Weekly Volcano, is the region’s feedbag of fresh chow daily, local restaurant news, New Beer Column, bar and restaurant openings and closings, breaking culinary news and breaking culinary ground - all brought to the table with a dollop of Internet frivolity on top.

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