In summer/fall 2009, I almost attended library school at College Park, Maryland. For a month prior to the start of classes, I sublet a room in Columbia Heights and spent four weeks roaming around alone in DC. The great part is that I actually had the money to do so after living at home and working full time for eight months, and DC is actually where this comparative quest of macaroni and cheese developed. The original article I started from is this 2008 Gridskipper post and a number of other posts and boards, then I mapped out which locations were most convenient to the places I was visiting. I’d been to the Spy Museum before when I was in college, but had not eaten at the restaurant next door, Zola.
Eating alone is a pretty interesting experience. It can be very liberating or make one feel insecure. I actually think it made me savor food in a different way because instead of sharing the experience with a dining partner, I was taking in my surroundings and focusing on what I was eating.
This lobster mac and cheese is only the best because it’s in my memory and it was the first rendition of lobster mac I’d ever had. I don’t remember exactly what it was like, just big chunks of lobster, a really good mix of cheeses, and big fat elbow noodles (what my little kid heart feels is REAL macaroni, not penne or fusilli or orecchiette). Subsequent versions have been not as exciting, either not as cheesy (Old Port Lobster Shack, which was more creamy than cheesy) or just not working together (Alexander’s Steakhouse, where the mac is good and the lobster does nothing for it… I don’t know if truffles work with lobster mac; it’s like too much stuff going on in one place; likewise, Formosa Cafe had one of the more creative efforts, but I didn’t love the mushrooms and green onions). I’m still on a quest to recapture that memory of Zola’s lobster mac… maybe it won’t be as good and my mind is remembering it as better than it was.