I was not a macaroni and cheese kid. I don’t know if you grew up in Canada you either had Kraft Dinner (just ask the Barenaked Ladies) or nothing. My children, on the other hand enjoy a nice salty, creamy bowl of white steaming pasta in white creamy sauce. The real mac ‘n cheese lover in our family is me though. I don’t have it often, but every once in a while it’s what I crave.
As a lover of all cheese from stinky cheese to plastic cheese. I appreciate good cheese, but I’m not a cheese snob. Each cheese has a best purpose. There are cheeses that need to be savoured alone. There are cheeses that are perfect melted between two slices of white bread and served with tomato soup. There are cheeses to nibble with an apéritif and others to enjoy with fruit before dessert. Every New England restaurant has been working on the ideal combination of cheeses for the perfect cheese sauce to serve on their winter comfort food menu
I first visited Smith’s Country Cheese in Winchendon with a friend and colleague a couple of years ago and I was surprised to see that Massachusetts still has such family run dairies and cheese makers just a short drive out of the city. I know about all the “artisan” goat cheese makers, the fabulous triple creams made locally, and the ever growing American cheese makers because I live a stone’s throw from Formaggio Kitchen. Smith’s Country Cheese isn’t the type of cheese you’ll find at Formaggio, not because it’s too plain, or not good enough, but because Formaggio is a small shop with very specific cheeses that they’re looking for and Smith’s doesn’t quite fit the bill.
I grew up in Mennonite country in Ontario and the cheese at the farmer’s market were Havartis, stinky washed rind Okas and Goudas. Smith’s Country Cheese brought me right back to the market of my childhood and delicious locally made cheeses.
The Smith family offered to send me one of their new “gift baskets” they were making this year: the Mac and Cheese Kit. Of course I couldn’t refuse having cheese delivered to my door. I wasn’t sure what to expect in the kit, but when it came, I couldn’t wait to try it out. My husband doesn’t eat dairy, nor does my son, and my daughter is only an occasional macaroni and cheese eater so I invited a couple of girlfriends over for lunch and threw together a quick meal of soup, salad and macaroni and cheese.
The recipe was a slow cooker recipe, but since I didn’t have my original recipe card (someone accidentally recycled it I think), I looked up another recipe on the Smith’s Country Cheese website and called on my blogger friends who were also checking out the kit, and made the recipe in the oven.
What I love about the kit is that it’s something I might send to a friend who needs a little “pick me up”, a college student who’s studying for exams, an old college friend to let her know I’m thinking about her. It’s a bit more than I’d usually spend on macaroni and cheese but worth it for the convenience of having someone take care of sending a package that will make someone very happy on the receiving end.
My friends and I loved the results. The combination of the smoked gouda (I’m not usually a fan of smoked cheeses but it was a perfect added dimension – dare I say umami- for the cheese sauce.) and the tangy cheddar made the perfect classic macaroni and cheese.