Normally quiet in the winter months, The Shops at the Coeur d’Alene Resort were packed with 1,500 people for the Couer d’Alene Downtown Association’s inaugural Mac and Cheese Festival on January 13th. With over 20 local restaurants and breweries participating in the taste-testing festivities, tickets quickly sold out.
“Which is great!” said event organizer Emily Boyd. “But it’s also a bummer, because we don’t want to have to turn people away.”
Ticket packages started at $25, giving guests six macaroni and cheese tastings and six beer tastings, along with a commemorative beer glass. Souvenir t-shirts were also on sale, proclaiming, “I Survived the S’macdown” and “Will Work For Cheese”.
Sweet Lou’s entered their menu-staple Bacon Mac and Cheese, while many of the participating restaurants took the opportunity to let the chefs experiment. Paragon Brewing left the beer at the brewery and focused on their rich Duck Prosciutto mac and cheese, Moondollars offered a seafood variety made with 7 kinds of cheese, king crab, shrimp and black truffle.
“And a whole lot of love,” said Moondollars Chef de Cuisine Randall Sorrell. “We’re having so much fun right now, we can’t wait to do this again.”
Several local breweries also joined the fun, giving guests many options to wash down the saucy pastas created by the local chefs. From the No Good Bastard Amber served up from Post Falls Brewing, to crisp apple cider from North Idaho Cider, and even a selection of wines served up from Castaway Cellars alongside their own smoked brisket medley.
The beer lines may have been longer but mac and cheese was the star of the day. “Mac and cheese has been my favorite food since I was a kid,” said one guest, “So this is pretty much the best day ever.”
Ultimately, the prestigious Judge’s Noodle and People’s Choice Awards went to Taphouse Unchained, with their unconventional take – Mac and Cheese Balls. Moondollars came in second.