Friday, September 10, 2010

Mac 'n Cheese

The cheese was still sizzling briskly when it arrived at the table.

My Beloved, pal Sari and I were at the Fremont Diner in Sonoma for brunch recently, all three of us ravenous. We had driven up through the brown-gold velvet hills of northern Marin County and into the stubbornly agricultural Sonoma County, thanking heaven along the way for the Sonoman's reluctance to widen their roads and invite the hoards that inevitably follow in such gorgeous places. The scenery was lovely, bucolic and peaceful as we wound along the two-lane roads. We arrived at the Fremont Diner to find a long line out the door and every table filled.

It was a cheerful crowd, however, passing menus up and down the line so we'd all be ready to order as soon as we stepped up to the window. There were a few "me first" folks who sent one of their party to snag a table before ordering (a breach of good manners in this casual place), but most people were philosophical and all were rewarded by an open table once they had made their orders.

We love the food at the Fremont Diner but it's obvious that their popularity has outpaced their ability to serve in a timely manner. We waited fully 45 minutes after placing our orders for Sari's brisket hash, My Beloved's chicken and waffles and my Mac 'n Cheese to arrive. We could see into the tiny kitchen from our table so we knew they were making a Herculean effort on a busy Sunday morning. We did have our drinks as we waited and when we are together we have no trouble finding lots to chat about, but it seemed like a very long time to three hollow folks.

Which is why, even though I had my camera at the ready, I completely forgot to photograph my Mac 'n Cheese when it arrived bubbling under its glorious, golden-brown buttery crumb topping that matched almost exactly the color of the surrounding hills. When the food arrived, we just dove in with silent intensity. It was only as the level of macaroni was well down in my black iron pan that I remembered that I'm a blogger and that photos enhance my stories.

It was worth the wait. The crisp topping was a delightful counterpoint to the creamy casserole, there was plenty of tasty cheese and the little pan was fully 6 inches across, such a hearty portion that My Beloved had to help me finish it. He reports that his chicken and waffles were perfectly cooked and a happy balance between juicy chicken and crispy coating, with a substantial flour waffle served hot with butter and genuine maple syrup. Sari's brisket hash with a bright-yolked egg on top was downright unctuous and sparked with pepper. We all went away deeply satisfied with our brunch and ready to explore Glen Ellen before heading home along those lovely, quiet roads.

Did you know that M.F.K. Fisher used to live and party in tiny Glen Ellen?

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Blogger Ms Brown Mouse said...

We have a tiny wee pan like that, hmmmmm!

Friday, September 10, 2010  
Blogger James said...

I love the fried pies! Only what is in season.

Friday, September 10, 2010  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Oh, yum! A skillet of mac 'n' chee. I'm doing it that way next time, and I feel an irresistible urge to tell you the crumb topping I'm going to use. Don't steal it. Crushed Doritos.

And! I took a class in mushroomology from a man who lived with Mary Frances as her helpmeet in her late years. Small world.

Friday, September 10, 2010  
Blogger Best Wishes, Marie said...

there is something so good about pasta and cheese. i have a giant cast iron pan. and now know a new thing to do with it.

Friday, September 10, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Ms Mouse, you could even make a larger version in a big iron pan - cook once, eat twice or thrice!

James, I haven't tried those yet but I will next time on your recommendation.

Cookiecrumb, love the Doritos idea. I will steal it, but I promise to give you credit. Do you feel competent to pick wild mushrooms now?

Marie, welcome and the more the merrier - I always like mac 'n' cheese that has been re-heated. Makes it taste cheesier.

Saturday, September 11, 2010  
Blogger namastenancy said...

I knew that MFK lived in Glen Ellen. I remember seeing her there ages and ages ago but my friends and I were too polite to bother her.

Saturday, September 11, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Nancy, your parents raised you right. While I think famous people sometimes enjoy hearing that people enjoy their work, it must be a pain to be stopped constantly by gushing fans. :-) You must run into that all the time now that you are a journalist.

Sunday, September 12, 2010  

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