Monday, November 4, 2013

Drooling Over "Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese"

Penne with Garrotxa, Serrano Ham, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Book reviews are not something I usually write on my blog. In fact, I've never written one ever. I typically stick to photo-heavy posts about our vacations, food photography and my connections to the recipes. You know, personal stuff.
But this book review actually falls into that "personal stuff" category, as the authors of "Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese,"Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord, happen to be personal friends of mine. (Here we are with the fourth corner of our square, Casey Barber, author of "Classic Snacks Made From Scratch.") Not only do these three all have a special place in my heart since we met at Food Blog Camp, but macaroni and cheese also has a very special place in my heart. So, here goes with my first cookbook post!
Photo: Matt Armendariz
First off, it must be said that this is no regular mac 'n cheese cookbook, unless "regular" in your world is having a selection of Redwood Hill Smoked Goat Cheddar, kefalotyri and aged Mahon on hand to whip up a quick weeknight dinner for your kids. You will find recipes in this book, like Brillat-Savarin with Pears, Fennel & Torn Croissant Topping and La Tur with Conchiglie, Nectarines & Apricot Jam that will make you rethink the whole idea of "macaroni and cheese" and what it means. As much as I love the blue box, this book plays in a whole different league.

Besides the out-of-the-box interpretations of a classic comfort food, the depth of information about cheese and pasta and the resulting magic that happens when they're combined is astonishing. Every single recipe begins with a description of the cheese and the key ingredients in the dish. This is one element I hope for in every recipe I read, and is evidence of both authors' blogging backgrounds.

You'll find sidebars about raw milk cheese, terroir, crusts and much more. There's even a cheese quick reference guide in the back! If you never cook a single recipe from this book, you'll walk away from it knowing more than you ever imagined you'd know about cheese.

But what I like most about this book is the warm, conversational prose. I hear both of their voices variously as I read through the book. (You can experience a little bit of their personalities in this cookbook trailer.) Their explanations are authoritative yet friendly, high-brow yet humble. I keep paging through the book, randomly turning to pages, just to read the recipe introductions. 

So free your fancy cheese from it's prison on that cheese plate next to the water crackers, pick up a copy of "Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese," and call your friends for a dinner party. Just be prepared to have them invite themselves back over!

To win a set of Le Crueset cookware, check out this giveaway celebrating the release of "Melt"!


  1. Thanks, Sarah! You are the peach to my Humboldt Fog. :)

  2. Kudos to Garrett and Stephanie! Way to "think outside the box." :) (Although, for the record, I grew up with the blue box and I still love it, secretly.)

    Sarah - lovely write-up.

    I don't shop at WF too often, but when I do, I cruise through the cheese aisle and pick up a few blocks in the "everything in this basket is under $5" container. It's the odd ends of a wheel or block, so you only get a little, but for me, it's a fun way to try out cheeses I would otherwise skip. I'm willing to bet that some of these cheeses are covered in the book, so now, I'll have a WONDERFUL use for the cheese! (Since my go-to is currently sneaking in a bite while standing at the fridge after hours when no one is looking.)

    Also - I'm totally serious about doing a potluck around a "Melt" theme.



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