The United Way hosted Morgantown's first macaroni and cheese cook-off. I was honored to be one of the judges, along with Del. Amanda Pasdon. The event had an incredible turnout with more than 350 people attending and eight incredible restaurants competing: Atomic Grill, Iron Horse Tavern, Hash Browns & New Grounds, Oliverio's Ristorante, Morgantown Brewing Company, Table 9, Terra Cafe and Tailpipes. For whatever reason, Stefano's didn't show up. No home cooks entered the competition, but I think that's something that might take off next year.
Iron Horse Tavern - tater tot wafer with black truffle sour cream topped with four cheese macon mac - smoked gouda, pecorino romano, white cheddar and gruyere - smoked paprika, garlic panko crust and chives.
Tailpipes - "Maki Roni & Cheese" - Irish cheddar, goat cheese, candied bacon, parmesan, spicy mayo and Japanese panko.
Terra Cafe - "Blue 'BLT' Mac N' Cheese" - homemade orecchiette in a tomato and blue cheese sauce. Served in a fresh-baked bread bowl and garnished with candied bacon and kale chips. Kale and onions from Round Right Farm. Allegheny Chevre and Black & Blue from Firefly Farms. Eggs from Possum Tail Farm.
Morgantown Brewing Comapny - "Beer & Bacon Cheesy Mac with '80 Shillings Scotch Ale" - asiago, sharp white cheddar, mozzarella, smoked provolone and smoked gouda cheeses with whole wheat macaroni and semolina cavatappi pasta with grilled leeks, black beans and roasted red peppers topped with crispy house-cured pork jowl bacon crumbles.
Oliverio's Ristorante - "Lobster Mac and Cheese" - homemade lobster stock, lobster base, butter, heavy cream, scallions and garlic with cheddar, parmesan and smoked gouda cheeses tossed with cavatappi pasta, langostino and lobster tail meal.
Atomic Grill - "Atom-Mac" - cavatappi egg pasta, a proprietary blend of six cheeses, serrano peppers, cayenne sauce, scallions and white pepper.
Table 9 - orzo, pork belly and smoked gouda.
Hash Browns & New Grounds - jalapeno gnocchi macaroni and cheese with toasted peppercorns, panko and red chili sauce.
Overall thoughts: I really liked Tailpipes' creativity. Super cool theme, and the crust on the outside was slightly sweet. Loved that. Terra Cafe was also tasty with homemade pasta, creamy cheese with a tang and nice texture with crispy kale. Plus local ingredients. Oliverio's rounded out my top three with their lobster pasta - it's a staple on their menu, and it's just so rich and delicious.
Iron Horse had a solid more traditional mac and cheese, but well executed. Morgantown Brewing Company was similar to Iron Horse, but I love that they included their own beer. Atomic Grill had a super thick and slightly spicy mac and cheese. I was bummed they only had two servings, and it was just almost too thick to be able to eat too much. Table 9 got points for creativity with the orzo, but it almost seemed like a casserole to me - minus the chicken and broccoli. And Hash Browns and New Grounds didn't save any tastings for the judges, so we didn't even get to try it.
1. Iron Horse Tavern
2. Oliverio's Ristorante
3. Morgantown Brewing Company
Best of Show
1. Terra Cafe
1. Hash Browns & New Grounds
2. Oliverio's Ristorante