The past weekend in New York was a whirlwind of planes, taxis, walking for umpteen hours and finally crashing out in a low-star hotel in Soho. My partner and I, along with a very good friend, took a little weekend trip to celebrate my upcoming birthday (which is actually today, for those who wish to know 🙂
None of this would have been worthwhile without some kind of goal – a purpose, a mission, a raison d’etre – and mine was to EAT. This was to be the first of, hopefully, many pilgrimages to NYC – the gastronomic capital of the East Coast (with San Francisco being the West Coast equivalent, natch).
Our first refueling stop in the East Village (after trolling through the San Gennaro festival in Little Italy – more on that later) was S’MAC – run by Sarita Ekya and her husband Caesar. Sarita, an expat Canadian, opened the macaroni and cheese destination earlier this year to a rainy opening night – and crowds that ran around the block. The day we were there Sarita and her staff treated us to excellent service, amazingly friendly smiles and the time that is not normally taken by proprietors to share the experience with their patrons.
All for good reason! At S’MAC you can order one of about 20 different macaroni and cheese dishes ranging from Cajun to All-American to Indian styled; if you don’t find one to your liking? Make your own! Order from one of three sizes ranging from Nosh (a hearty serving for one) to Major Munch to Mongo (family sized, surely).
My friend Caterina had the Cajun with andouille sausage, peppers, cheese and a great topping of breadcrumbs (for, really, what is mac and cheese without breadcrumbs?) My partner made his own with parsley and bacon whilst I went for the rosemary/andouille sausage combo.
Not only is the dish amazingly tasty but served in a portion sized cast iron skillet that helps keep the entire dish warm till you’re finished is just too cute for words.
The space itself is creative, orange and yellow splashes enliven the exposed brick and the tiny open kitchen lets you see right to the heart of the operation. No reheating only going on here; sauce, noodles and fillings are combined a la minute and topped (or not, your choice) before being hit with the heat of the salamander to crisp up the topping.
With our bellies full of amazing mac and cheese and a beautifully warm welcome from Sarita (and a promise to stay in touch), we headed out into the warm New York autumn, fueled for what ended up being a marathon 200 block trek uptown and back. More on that to come (along with my dinner at Babbo!)