Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Local Yokel - Mac and Cheese with a Local spin by Hilary Havarti

As one half of an interdietary couple, I'm always on the lookout for diverse menus that cater to both carnivores and vegaquarians alike. Local, a tiny eatery with mostly outdoor seating in Silverlake, offers locally sourced, organic ingredients whenever possible and fits the requirement like a tight belt.

I bring up belt tightening for two reasons. #1 Organic food isn't cheap. I've hit enough Farmer's Markets to know you'll pay extra for that large caterpillar crawling around in the salad greens. And #2, after a meal at Local, your belt may feel more snug, you may have to move it on over a loop or two because the portions at Local are hefty. I ordered the Vegan Tempeh Sloppy Joe with Soy Mozzarella ($13) and could barely eat half. The mac and cheese was no exception ($6).

In the photo you'll see the mac spilling over the edges of the serving dish like a muffin top. You'll also notice the cuckoo crazy burnt cheese layer chiseled on top. My dining companion, Ted Swiet, an inventor/designer, suggested the mac had been flipped over in the serving dish to display the bottom of the pan crust on top and in doing so, succeeded in keeping the noodles hot. It's an inventive theory though I'm still not certain it wasn't just thrown under the broil to reheat, thus causing that impressive sear.

In terms of flavor, I had mixed reactions. I loved that crispy cheese layer. I'm a big fan of crunch in my mac and though this dish lacked a breadcrumb top, the near burned cheese covering was a nice substitution. My big complaint was the heavy handed saltiness. It was a dull salty flavor like when you lick a sea shell (c'mon you know you've done it.) It just seemed to linger after each bite. I wondered if perhaps they'd boiled the noodles in overly salted water. That might have been the culprit. The noodles, a large macaroni variety, were cooked well and basked in the warm glow of a creamy cheese sauce. In terms of cheeses, my best guess is two kinds of Cheddar, white and orange as well as some Swiss. I also tasted black pepper.

Now in spite of my salty grievance, I took the leftovers home and proceeded to eat them for days. There was something incredibly comforting about the large noodles and crispy topping of this preparation.
Beyond the mac and cheese, Local has great food. Friends have raved about the Rocky Jr. Free Range Chicken Sandwich, The Vegan Sloppy Joe, Vegan Chili and the Quinoa burger. Next time I'm going for breakfast so I can try the Belgian Waffle with Apple Raspberry Compote. Yum!

2943 West Sunset
LA, CA 90026