In the pot: Putting my mac down | AspenTimes.com

In the pot: Putting my mac down

Stewart OksenhornThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO, Colorado

Janet Urquhart The Aspen Times

ASPEN – My noble opposition, Carolyn Sackariason, editor of the Aspen Daily News, promised on Saturday to make me a pan of her mac and cheese. Virtually any other time, I would consider this a lovely gesture, as I love mac and cheese, Sack knows I love mac and cheese, and Sack makes a most commendable mac and cheese (which she also knows).But on this occasion, Sack’s offer seemed to be touched with a bit of cruelty. For Sack had just been my companion for an afternoon of feasting that was the inaugural Aspen Mac & Cheese Festival, and after a few hours of eating, we had come to an inescapable conclusion about the dish of the day: There is probably no product on this earth, food or otherwise, as susceptible to the law of diminishing returns as mac-and-cheese. That orange cheesiness that looks so tempting at first glimpse (we strongly concurred that the more orange-y the M&C, the more tantalizing) and so satisfying on first and second bites becomes, by the fifth and sixth sample, almost impossible to actually taste. Boogie’s straight-up, gloppy M&C might as well have been Ute City’s duck confit-white cheddar-smoked Gouda concoction. By the 12th sample, it is a burden on the stomach. (For those wondering why we didn’t just stop at sample No. 10, the answer is simple: There were 15 participants, some offering multiple styles. Quitting before we got through our rounds, just because eating had stopped being anything remotely enjoyable, was not an option.)So Sack, thanks, but the last thing my body seems to be craving at the moment is more M&C. (I should be good for tomorrow, though.)Other notes on the M&C Festival: By 2 p.m. (the official “start-serving” time), the lines were so long that people generally had no idea what line they were in, and the strategy became to just follow the person in front of you until someone put a cardboard cup of M&C in your hand.Small reason to believe God is smiling on me: Just as things were getting crowded and confused, the Elevation booth was set up – a few minutes late, but right where I happened to be standing. Maybe it was the freshness, maybe the fact that it was my second bite of the day, but Elevation (nine cheeses and spicy Italian sausage, and a definite after-bite from the sausage) was my clear favorite of the day.Easily the most ambitious M&C chef was Jamie Theriot of Smoke Modern Barbecue, who hauled seven varieties – blue cheese and steak, a few with shrimp – out to the festival. Word got out, and Smoke had the biggest lines of the day.Before the festival, I would have guessed that having a metal band closing the party, playing loud covers of Metallica and Green Day while diners were sitting and attempting to digest their M&C, would be a bad idea. Now I know for sure.stewart@aspentimes.com

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