UPON HEARING ABOUT this little venture, both Elissa and Jenny mentioned to me the existence of a blog of similar food nature--Not Eating Out In NY. I checked it out, was quite impressed, and decided that it would be the topic of a future post. Until I happened to glance at it this morning to find Cathy from Not Eating Out, in her infinite wisdom, had posted a recipe for spicy macaroni and cheese, whereupon it was decided that Not Eating Out would be the topic of today's post.
I used feel about french toast the same way I presently feel about macaroni and cheese: I love it. I love the idea of it. I want to have, like, ten thousand of its babies. I don't know what happened to french toast in my mind, but I suspect that the sheer overabundance of it took some of the thrill out of my search. Unlike french toast, with is fairly ubiquitous at any diner or brunch spot in the city, macaroni and cheese is not the type of menu item that gets a lot of attention. I suspect it's just too annoying to make in a commercial kitchen, too hard to perfect, and perhaps just not cost effective enough to make it worth the while, but I balk at all these explanations. Honestly, I think people have just grown out of it.
In addition (and Not Eating Out makes a grand point of this in totaling the price of her creation at $6.57), no one wants to spend $10-plus on mac n' cheese. It's macaroni. And cheese. As any hungover college student knows, Easy Mac costs approximately $0.10 per gallon. If we go gourmet and, let's say, you put noodles and cheese in a pan and stick it in the oven, that same hungover college student will declare it a four-star meal and you still haven't spent more than $7. Yet, if you find mac n' cheese on any menu in this city, I defy you to pay less than $11 to have it brought to you.
Like french toast, you run a risk in searching for mac n' cheese that, when you find it, it might be as awe-inspiringly amazing as you had hoped, or as bland and clearly just-thawed-out as you feared. Which is why making your own seems the best solution--if you want it done right, do it yourself. I will admit I have not made mac n' cheese in a very, very long time, but this recipe stirs something inside me, something more than my secret vegetarian desire for chorizo. This mac... it will be made.