During our last trip to Bath, we stopped in at Same-Same but Different, a little bistro on Bartlett Street. It had a distinctly Parisian feel to it, but with an English twist–sidewalk tables and chairs, but wicker and steel, not wrought iron; creaky floors of dark wood, but well-lit from lamps and windows; a laid-back, unhurried tempo, but with attentive service.
It also had an eclectic menu, which intrigued us both. I had a Caesar salad with duck and a poached quail’s egg, while my wife had an old standard: macaroni and cheese.
Mac-n-cheese is a comfort food for many. Personally, I never warmed to it, but after tasting the version we had at SSBD, I knew I had lived a deprived life. I talked to the chef at SSBD, and he graciously gave me the basics of his dish, which I fleshed out and kitchen-tested myself. Mac-and-cheese is no longer on the menu at SSBD, so I feel comfortable posting my interpretation of his recipe.
I’ve kept chef’s original “single serving” proportions, which make it easy to multiply for as many mouths as you wish to feed.
Golden Macaroni and Cheese
Makes 1 serving
The recipe, per serving:
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp powdered mustard
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 4 tbsp (heaping) grated extra mature cheddar, divided
- 1/2 cup elbow macaroni, cooked
- salt and pepper to taste
- Set oven on broil (low), and put the rack up under the element
- Put a saucepan large enough to hold the pasta for all your servings on a medium-high heat
- Fry the garlic in the knob of butter
- Add mustard, heavy cream, and 2 tbsp of the grated cheddar
- Stir to melt the cheese, then simmer for a few minutes
- Add the cooked macaroni and fold to distribute sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pour each serving into an ovenproof dish or ramekin
- Top with the rest of the grated cheese
- Grill under the broiler until bubbly and golden
- For this dish, a good, mature, coastal English cheddar is best (white cheese, not orange American cheddar).
- The 1/2 cup uncooked macaroni can be extended to 3/4 cup for a more hearty serving.
- The original dish was topped with slow-roasted tomatoes or roasted mushroom caps, each filled with a dollop of pesto, but this was gilding the lily, in my estimation. While a delight for the taste buds, such additions push the dish up out of the realm of simple “comfort” food.