Small crowds moved excitedly up and down a damp, rainy main street on Saturday, June 4, in Weaverville, taking samples of pasta and cheese before moving on to the next offer.
Small test cups of poppy seeds and cheese were offered on both sides of the main street, stretching from the Highland Art Center to the Trinity County Brewing Company, and including 10 different eateries on Main Street and other businesses.
This was the second pasta and cheese making in downtown Weaverville.
The event was hosted by Up North Confectionery & Mercantile owner Ryan Crockett and hosted by Trinity County Visitor Center. Purchasing a $ 10 entry ticket entitles the judge to a contest, which allows people to vote for their favorite samples.
Tickets were limited to a total of 50 judges, and proceeds from ticket sales were donated to the Visitor Center. The main purpose of cooking, Crockett said, was not to make money from ticket sales, but to enter the doors of local businesses and people moving around the center with the added fun of trying out a few samples and voting for the winner.
This definitely worked for this cheese-loving reporter who took a ticket and walked down Main Street in the spring rain to see who could offer the best mac. Here is my breakdown, in no particular order except a good walking route, followed by the final winning number of the judge’s votes.
Trinity County Brewing Company
From the first bite, I felt that I may have been wrong. Not in a bad way, but in a “just started from the top without going higher?” Kind of way.
The cheese was creamy with a garnish of panko crumbs and exploded with a deep, tasty but slightly unusual poppy and cheese flavor: beer cheese. Morgan Adrian, who prepared the samples, said he was inspired to make poppy seeds and cheese using the brewery’s beer cheese. His recipe also included fountain cheese and gouda with bechamel, heavy cream, butter, some more beer and caramelized onions and mushrooms.
True to its roots as a health food store, Mountain Marketplace was the only participant to advertise its poppies and cheese as made with all organic ingredients. Whether it’s the organic nature of the ingredients, or just the combination of flavors, with a strong herbal punch of rosemary and oregano, I found that I think the brewery may have already been on top and choosing a winner will be difficult after only two samples.
Owner Kyle MacDonald said the recipe – which also includes fresh milk and cream from nearby Alexander family farms in Del Norte County, Organic Valley Spicy Cheddar, Pepper Jack, Cream Cheese, Sour Cream, Butter and Garlic – comes from his partner’s mother and is something that may be on their menu in the future.
Cafe on the Main
Undoubtedly the most decadent of all samples, not surprisingly, from Cafe on Main.
Almost shorter ribs of poppy seeds and cheese, and in a peppery and spicy cheese sauce, the sample bordered on the feeling more like stroganoff, but with a sharp white bite of cheddar and Swiss in the mix, the cheese still had room to shine.
The owner and chef of mac and cheese for the day, Scott Boone, said the recipe was already on the cafe’s current menu.
I wonder if a full plate may be too rich in taste to finish, but it will also be difficult to order something else, knowing that there are poppies and cheese with short ribs.
The first non-food or beverage business, whose poppy seeds and cheese I tried, was completely passable. In fact, every other day I would consider it a perfect representative of classic baked pasta and cheese. Unfortunately, as classic as it was, with the rigidity of the competition, which was already a test, it was clear that this was not the favorite.
Angela Adrian, who runs the theater and made poppy seeds and cheese, said that if there is a next time, she hopes to somehow incorporate the taste of butter popcorn in the theater into her poppy seeds and cheese; although, she said, there is already butter in the recipe, so she will need to understand that.
Gabriel’s Grill & Lounge
Owner Gabriel Thompson shared a story that during the last poppy and cheese cooking, several people ended up failing to try it because they were vegetarians, so this year he took mac meat out to try a vegetarian recipe that included leeks and Swiss chard.
It was a good change that I finally had vegetables, and the recipe also included romano cheese, gruyere, spicy cheddar and mascarpone with cornbread topping – another nice addition that is not found in any of the other samples.
Maybe because I was on a barbecue and eating pasta with a focus on vegetables, but poppy seeds and cheese radiated the main vibes of a side dish. It would be perfect with barbecue ribs with sauce or grilled sausage, but it probably won’t be my first choice if I’m just craving poppy seeds and cheese.
Main street shoes
Another participant on the list who is not known for his food, Main Street Shoes offers slow-cooking poppy seeds and cheese with diced smoked sausage, which has worked hard to raise the sample.
It was thicker than creamy, but not in a bad way. The addition of sausage gave me a reminiscent of poppy seeds and cheese from childhood with sliced hot dogs and was a kind of dish that could be served without anything else and completely satisfied. However, I felt like something I could easily do at home, and while completely satisfying, it didn’t quite reach the level of some of the others.
Hotel & Emporium Weaverville
It was kraft pasta and cheese.
The children of mountain goats
Mountain Goat Kids celebrated its one-year anniversary by also offering drinks and other treats, along with my favorite poppies and cheese, which are not made in a professional establishment.
A step forward was the addition of sharper cheddar and pieces of bacon, adding salty and salty punch, without the need for large pieces of meat to distract from the rest of the poppy seeds and cheese.
Up North Confectionery and Trade
Owned by the event organizer, Up North took him out of the park with his presentation, serving his poppy and cheese samples in a small bowl of waffle cones with a small toothpick with an American flag.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Up North poppy seeds and cheese also tasted the sweetest, using bacon jam and barbecue sauce in their recipe. Not usually my cup of tea, the sweet punch was light enough not to be too distracting, but definitely noticeable. It was nice as a sample and will probably be a good side dish to the right dish, although I’m not sure about the sweetness if it’s the kind of poppy and cheese I’d like a full bowl of.
Honorable mention: Highland Art Center
Over the course of the day, I discovered that my time was running out and I had to choose between voting for the winner and trying to get to the art center for a final rehearsal, and unfortunately I couldn’t try the rehearsal at the Highland Art Center. What’s worse is that the recipe includes chicken and green hot peppers, which means there would probably be room at the top of my list.
After the sampling was done, the judges were given three coins to deposit in cups with slits at the top to allow voting, but did not allow people to see how many coins were in each cup. Each cup had the name of one of the participants in the cooking and the voters could put all the coins in one cup or divide them as they saw fit.
The winning poppy and cheese, with a two-to-one judge difference, as well as my personal favorite, was the all-organic Mountain Marketplace recipe with a total of 35 votes.
After neck and neck with each other for second and third place came Mac and cheese with short ribs at Cafe on Main with 17 votes and the brewery of Trinity County Brewing Company with 16 votes.