Back in February, right around the week of my birthday, a box, big enough to house a microwave, arrived on my doorstep. The return address was for a company called Beechers Cheese in Seattle, WA. It was a heavy box and I sort of pushed it in the front door rather than throw out my back lifting it. I opened the package to discover an aluminum baking dish nestled under cool refrigerator pillows. Pulling the pan from the wreckage of insulation, I thought, No! It can't be! I pried away the top to reveal a semi-frozen pan of Beecher's “World's Best” Mac and Cheese. Imagine my delight to learn A) you can send mac and cheese through the mail and B) there's a "World's Best" mac and cheese I could sample without ever leaving the house or crossing state lines.
Credit for finding and sending the ultimate gift that keeps on giving for days and days goes to the lovely and generous Kris Zagoria. Aware of my unwavering passion for mac and cheese, Kris set out to put the "World's Best" Beechers proclamation to the test by sending it to me to sample.
Popping the pan in the oven to let the baking commence, I pulled up the old Internets to see what this Beecher's place was all about. It turns out, Beechers, located in Seattle's famous Pike Place Market, is a cheese shop/cafe that prides itself on it's "homemade cheeses." Here's a little blurb from their website about their dedication to purity. "We feature foods that are free of artificial preservatives, flavor enhancers, sweeteners, colors and hydrogenated oils (trans fats)." Their “World’s Best” Mac and Cheese is made with 1 lb. Beecher's Flagship Cheddar cheese, 1/2 lb. Beecher's Just Jack cheese and 6 oz. all-natural penne pasta. The “World’s Best” appears in quotes and though I dug around the website pretty thoroughly, I couldn't find any sources credited for the "Award winning" and "World's Best" claims. Not that I doubt they received the awards, I'd just like to know "from whom."
So, is it the “World's Best” Mac and Cheese? That is the question.
I let the mac and cheese bake a little longer than specified so the sides and top were extra crispy, just the way I like 'em. The Beecher's mac doesn't come with a crumb top and I'll spare you the whining, because anyone who reads this blog consistently (thanks Suzy Gruyere) knows I like a good crumb top on my mac. That said, I took several things into consideration upon reviewing this mac to establish its ranking.
1. It arrived in the freakin' mail! (Best birthday present ever!)
2. Some cheese sauce is overly watery, requiring a veritable noodle lifeguard to rescue the pasta from a soupy current. Not the case here. It didn't even feel like "sauce" but rather a coating of deliciousness on every noodle.
3. I guess their dedication to purity credo is paying off because this was some seriously high quality cheese with a buttery/creamy texture.
4. The penne noodles hid little bits of the cheese inside, a great complement to the dish.
5. Sizzled up hot and gooey in the microwave for days and days.
6. No crumb top.
All in all, I can't say with any certainty that Beecher's is the "World's Best” Mac and Cheese because the "world," she is a big place. I've yet to sample all her mac and cheese offerings. But it is pretty darn tantalizing. I loved the flavors of the cheese and the spices. It's a creative gift idea and they even sell a DIY kit with all the ingredients and a companion cookbook in case you want to make it at home.
Beecher's Handmade Cheese
1600 Pike Place
Seattle, Washington 98101