That Which Does Not Kill Me: Deep Fried Mac n Cheese

Between recent forays into the pork-permeated Momofuku universe, a profoundly unhealthy interest in bone-dry southern Italian white wines, the lack of a gym membership, and the absence of any willpower when it comes to the mushroom pizza at Rosario's, there's a good chance I won't live to see 34. And when you get to that point in your life where you realize that you might as well just stop trying to be healthy, you also then come to the conclusion that there's no point in avoiding deep fried macaroni and cheese. Really. Just give into it. You'll feel a lot better. I mean, it's a thought I've had for a long time now: who in the carnivorous, lactose-tolerant (or, like me, lactose-intolerance-be-damned) universe wouldn't love to consume a ball of mac n cheese, breaded and then deep fried? Add to that a piece of smoked kielbasa in the center, and you've got yourself an updated version of the mac n cheese n franks one would often find in elementary school cafeterias. An updated version for the glutton in all of us. Made by yours truly. Sadly, yours truly has a kitchen the size of an armchair a folding chair, and I woefully lack a deep fryer. So KS proposed that until I was blessed with a dream kitchen and fryolator, we head out into the city to try other places' take on this concept. (Sadly, too, I am not the only one with this wondrous idea.) And so this past weekend, and for a wee bit of the other evening, we crafted almost entire meals around deep fried mac n cheese. And lived to tell the tale. First up: Supermac. A wee little place in the fashion district that specializes in macaroni and cheese (including a lobster thermidor version...!), Supermac was unfortunately out of their mac n cheese nuggets the day we visited. We consoled ourselves by ordering a couple versions of their regular mac n cheese: a traditional one with American and cheddar, and a 4-cheese one with cheddar, asiago, mozzarella, and parmesiano-reggiano. The four cheese one rocked -- nice texture, with really good tang from the cheese combination (it's the one further away in the photograph on the left). Up next: after downing a couple pint glasses of sangria, we headed over to Mo Pitkins, based on a tip from gridskipper, where there had been photographic evidence of a deep fried mac and cheese loaf. On the walk over there, I may have said something to the effect of "It seems to me that the loaf, qua loaf...." I actually don't remember how I finished that sentence because KS started cracking up. Qua. It's the only bit of latin I know how to use in a sentence. Anyhow: the loaf. Insane. I mean, look at the knife that accompanied it. And the crazy cheese sauce. It was spectacular. The sauce kept the whole thing from drying out, and the breading was crisp and light (as light as deep fried anything can be). The mac and cheese itself was pretty standard -- nothing very fancy, but in that sense quite good: nothing to distract you from the deep fried mac n cheese qua deep fried mac n cheese. Having hit the proverbial wall that evening, we waited a couple of days before trying out purveyor no.3: Bamn!, the automat place over on St. Marks near 2nd avenue. The whole automat thing was sort of fun, but I suspect I'd have to be considerably more intoxicated for the whole thing to be the kind of pleasure I think it's supposed to be. In any event, their mac n cheese krokets (their spelling) were a far cry from Mo Pitkins' cheese extravaganza, but seemed to work pretty well as an inbetween sort of thing. And not so bad, having emerged from the depths of an automat. The mac n cheese was bit more straightforwardly Kraft-esque, and there was something comforting about that. The outer coating could've use a little something extra -- pepper or a touch of cayenne, maybe? -- but again, for an automat, pretty solid fare. (I'd like to add, as an aside, that we followed this up with automat-generated chicken fingers, and then some Chicken Stroganoff at Cafe Anyway. One day my metabolism is going to catch up with my gluttony, and that's going to be a very sad day.) The verdict: good stuff, but not quite what I had envisioned. I sort of think that my version would blow these other guys out of the water. Now will someone please build me my dream kitchen so I can show this city what's what?

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