Comfort Food w/ a Gourmet Twist: Goat Cheese Mac & Cheese

Erin Wade and Allison Arevalo took one of the ultimate comfort foods, macaroni and cheese, and kicked it up a notch with a gourmet twist. The duo opened a popular Oakland, Calif., restaurant last year, Homeroom, that showcases mac and cheese. The dishes are made with artisanal cheeses from local cheesemakers. And one mac and cheese on the menu, made with fresh goat cheese, gets a finishing drizzleof extra virgin olive oil before it’s served.

Photo by James M. Ngo http://catalepsicfox.com/

“The oil pairs well with the goat cheese and provides a certain grassiness – but not too much. The oil also is buttery, and it adds a lot of complexity of flavor,” Wade tells us.

The dish — dubbed Mac the Goat, a word play on the song “Mack the Knife” — combines rich and tangy goat cheese, sliced scallions, and a topping of crispy breadcrumbs. It’s baked five to 10 minutes in a 450 degree Fahrenheit, and then finished with that drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Wade says the idea for the drizzle came about while she and Arevalo were developing the Mac the Goat recipe. It was lacking something, she recalls.

“It was good, but not great,” Wade adds. “Then we said, ‘Wait a minute! We always drizzle everything with olive oil.’ And that’s how that came about.”

We wondered how Wade and Arevalo, when opening their new venture, came to focus on mac and cheese.

Allison and I both love cheese,” Wade says. “Mac and cheese is fun. And it’s an accessible food.”

She adds that no other eateries were “really doing anything interesting” with mac and cheese. “So we wanted to take a food that was simple, that we liked, and that other people liked. We also thought it would be easy to train people to cook it in ways that people have never had.”

The formula worked. And the restaurant has been a hit.

The basic recipe that Homeroom uses is based on the mac and cheese that Wade’s father and Arevalo’s grandmother prepared many years ago. “I learned to make it at a very young age from my dad,” Wade adds.

Little did dad know, however, that his comfort food dish would launch a successful restaurant years later. (Click here to see more comfort food recipes in our February In Season eNewsletter.)

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

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