Weekly Volcano Blogs: Served blog

February 13, 2015 at 12:24pm

Mac and Cheese Madness: C.I. Shenanigans

C.I. Shenanigans in Tacoma serves one of the best mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

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This week marks 38th different mac and cheese dish I have eaten since April 2014. Don't look at me like that. I have a soft spot in my heart for mac and cheese. After any major trauma in my life, a dish of macaroni and cheese has bolstered me and given me a full belly and clear mind with which to plow ahead. Mac and cheese is what I want when I'm sick, when I'm sad, when I'm happy, even when I'm not particularly hungry. It forms a protective layer of love around my heart. (To be fair, that could also be arteriosclerosis. But it's too good for me to care.)

Also ... I'm doing research for our Tournament of Mac and Cheese, which begins next month. My goal is to report on a South Sound mac and cheese dish every week up to the tournament - to spread the cheesy word, ease into tournament research and, obviously, build hype. With your help, we'll pit 64 of the South Sound's best mac and cheese makers in a elbow-to-elbow battle - a titanic, cheesy tournament the likes of which has never been seen in these parts, unless you count our previous tacos, pizza, breakfast, sandwiches and burgers tournaments.

This week, I found one of the best mac and cheese dishes at C.I. Shenanigans.

Crab mac 'n' cheese is hardly the novelty it once was, but in the expert hands of C.I. Shenanigans, it's elevated to new heights. The Tacoma waterfront fine-dining restaurant relies on a béchamel sauce spiked with blue lump crab, smoked gouda cheese and long strips of Hill's bacon to give their Blue Crab Mac & Cheese ($22.95) an assertive edge. The lumache pasta was fluffy but not insubstantial.

"Blue lump crab gouda cheese, bacon, sautéed in béchamel - those are the only ingredients I can reveal," says Marvin Spencer, bar manager at Shenanigans. "It's a secret formula."

It's one of the few baked mac and cheese dishes that's not overcooked, nor does it reveal a layer of grease and unemulsified cheese at the bottom (as so many baked mac and cheese dishes do). Instead, the giant bowl of mac and cheese is thick all the way through except for a crunchy layer of breadcrumbs and slightly crisped pasta at the very top. Be careful, though: It takes a good five minutes to cool off enough to eat; I like to spend that time enjoying their tableside margarita.

C.I. SHENANIGANS, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. to close Sunday, 3017 Ruston Way, Tacoma, 253.752.8811

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound

LINK: The answer to why this mac and cheese column exists

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About this blog

Served, a blog by the Weekly Volcano, is the region’s feedbag of fresh chow daily, local restaurant news, New Beer Column, bar and restaurant openings and closings, breaking culinary news and breaking culinary ground - all brought to the table with a dollop of Internet frivolity on top.

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