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The greatest day ever: Part I 

Every person can count on a few defining moments in his or her life: the birth of a child, your wedding day, getting your first car, a big promotion. These are the framing moments—something to tell future generations as you rock them to sleep at night.

Well, this New Times writer is about to have a defining moment in her life: the Gourmet Mac and Cheese Festival of 2012.

That’s right. Aug. 25 is an entire day devoted to carbs smothered in sweet, salty, cheesy carbs. The gods truly have shone down upon us on this great day.

Mac and cheese is perhaps the most under-celebrated food in the history of calories. It’s sort of shocking considering that the noodle dish has such a complex and rich history. The first mention of the divine combination appears in a 14th century English cookbook as a cheese and pasta casserole called makerouns. Macaroni was all the rage in Paris during the 18th century, and it came with a virtual cornucopia of dipping and smothering sauces.

But perhaps the most important chapter of mac and cheese’s history stars Thomas Jefferson. As a young dude touring Paris, Jefferson encountered the goodness of pasta and aged dairy and decided to try to replicate the creation stateside. In 1793, he commissioned the American ambassador to Paris to build a mac and cheese machine to produce the stuff in mass quantities. But the machine was a bust, and Jefferson was left to import the ingredients from abroad.

He served up a mac and cheese pie in 1802 at a state dinner, and the rest is cheesy history.

As a red-blooded American, I feel it is necessary to celebrate such an integral part of our dietary culture. So on Aug. 25, I will be diving into bowls and bowls of the stuff—and you can, too.

 The Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese Festival 2012 will be held at Le Vigne Winery at 5115 Buena Vista Drive in Paso Robles. The festival starts at 2 p.m. and will feature gourmet macaroni and cheese from more than 25 restaurants. Judges will choose the top three for a grand prize. There will also be a people’s choice award.

To wash down the pasta and cheese, there will be some fabulous local wineries and breweries pouring out their best brewskies and vino.There will also be vendors’ booths and live entertainment.

Tickets cost $50 and give you an ID badge, access to 20 wineries who will be serving up 1 oz. tastings, a logo glass to take home, beer tasting by Tap It Brew, and access to more than 20 restaurants offering up 2 oz. tastings of mac and cheese. Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets at brownpapertickets.com/event/247148.

So now that I’ve given you ample warning, buy that damn ticket and gear up for the best day of the year. If it’s good enough for Jefferson, it’s good enough for you. And look for my post-festival, carb-haze coverage of how great it is to bathe in mac and cheese. 

Calendar Editor Maeva Considine talks to food about her feelings. We want a Bite! Send your cuisine related news to bites@newtimesslo.com.

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