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Mar 23, 2007 08:59 AM

What's up with the lobster mac 'n' cheese?

This has been bothering me for a while. I learned to cook while living in Italy, where combining seafood and cheese is a cardinal sin. I have tested this rule a few times just to be sure and always come to the same conclusion -- it produces a foul, sour taste. With this in mind, what he heck is going on with all these restaurants offering "lobster mac 'n' cheese"? Do they not know this rule?

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  1. Mac 'n' Cheese = $6 side dish.

    Lobster Mac 'n' Cheese = $18 entree.

    Besides, cheese is not too far of a progression from a Newberg sauce.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JugglerDave

      "cheese is not too far of a progression from a Newberg sauce"

      Just what I was thinking. If you live by this 'rule', for example, you'd be automatically ruling out such classic dishes as Lobster Newburg and Coquilles St. Jacque.

      1. re: Rubee

        Hmmm...the dishes you guys mention all involve crustaceans. I wonder if that has anything to do with it.

    2. Come on! Even in Italy, people top their shrimp linguine with parmesan!

      9 Replies
      1. re: mojoeater

        This couldn't be further from the truth. As a matter of fact, they'll look at you like you're crazy if you ask for such a thing.

        1. re: mangiatore

          I didn't get any weird looks. But maybe my face was in the pasta and I didn;t notice!

          But as JD said above, Newbur sauce and bisque aren't too far from cheese. I like shrimp in quesadillas and butter on my lobster, so I'd try lobster mac.

          1. re: mojoeater

            you were in a place frequented by americans, then.

            the whole point of shellfish and fish is the delicacy and brininiess of flavor. cream and cheese completely obliviate that. sure, i agree, cream and cheese are delicious. but they don't need to go on everything.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              Amen hotoynoodle!

              I was just about to ask mojoeater if he/she was eating in St. Mark's square in Venice or something.

          2. re: mangiatore

            Yes, but mac n' cheese can hardly be classified as an Italian dish.

            1. re: hrhboo

              That's called baked ziti. Love it.

              1. re: jfood

                Except baked ziti usually includes a tomato sauce element and traditional american mac n'cheese does not.

                1. re: charmedgirl

                  Unless you're eating it in my house, where the baked ziti is 75% cheese, 20% pasta and 5% tomato sauce. What can I say...I love cheese!

                  1. re: charmedgirl

                    Tongue in cheek, charmed, sorry.

                    The tom sauce in Jfood ziti is probably a 10% ingredient as well Mainly there for a little flavor and make is easy to mix the ricotta and mozzy into the dish. Mostly pasta and cheese.

          3. This reminds me of a story told by Jacques Pepin about dining with his wife in Italy. She requested cheese for her seafood pasta, and the chef demanded to know who was this person wanting cheese. When informed, the chef conceded that if it was for them, it was fine.

            1. Because it tastes good? Seriously, a local restaurant serves a lobster mac 'n' cheese made with mascarpone, and it is absolutely delicious.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Megiac

                Yes, I made lobster mac-n-cheese last month using a rich lobster broth and fontina cheese...topped with a little white truffle oil, I'd like to find anyone saying seafood and cheese don't mix after tasting it!

                1. re: azhotdish

                  I would love to try this! Both lobster and mac and cheese are huge favorites, and love and use fontina mostly. I am interested in your recipe azhotdish, will you share?

                  1. re: chef chicklet

                    Sure, I used this as a starting point and made a couple of small tweaks.

                    The lobster stock is a critical step, so don't skip it - it really makes the dish.

                    1. re: azhotdish

                      Looks so good, I can't wait to try this! Thanks so much!

              2. Like I have said in posts about pizza, we gotta get another name for the fru-fru derivatives of classic belly burners.

                For example, I suggest we limit what we call pizza to basic toppins and please do not include pineapple, chicken and any generality from Asia. Thai pizza? Not. It may have wonderful combinations but let's change the basic noun from pizza to, say, flatbread.

                Mac & Cheese with Lobster. For the record, I chuckle when I see it. If I want Mac and Cheese give me Mac and cheese. I want it down and dirty. At most throw some bread crumbs on top to give it a little crunch. I have a hard time coming up with anything to call it, but I get a bit of the shakes when I see people order this at a resto.

                Out of curiosity to those that have eaten it. What part of the lobster, if you know, does the resto put into the dish? Is it the tail and you feel you are getting your money's worth or is it the leftovers and the kitchen is maximizing revenue? TIA.

                4 Replies
                1. re: jfood

                  While I do think lobster Mac n' cheese is an abomination I don't believe in that hard&fast rule of no cheese with seafood ever.

                  Sauce Mornay is a classic with seafood and has cheese.
                  What about cream cheese and lox?
                  Creme fraiche is not entirely dissimilar to cheese and goes well with many seafood items...
                  In general seafood and cheese are poor companions as both cancel out the subtleties of the other. But there are always stand out exceptions. I just don't think Lob Mac n' Cheese is one of them.

                  The trend started with The French Laundry cookbook.. lobster with pasta in a mascarpone enriched lobster cream sauce I believe it was... now every wannabe neverwill cook out there is throwing cheese on lobster.

                  1. re: lebelage

                    French Laundry wasn't the Chris Columbus of this combo but stole it from that other great taste sensation the Burger King Whaler sandwich, who stole it from McD's with the fish filet with cheese sandwich.. Only kidding.

                    For Jfood the only thing between me and my lobster (when i eat it) is drawn butter. Period.

                    1. re: lebelage

                      "lobster with pasta in a mascarpone enriched lobster cream sauce I believe it was"

                      I can see a chef who knows what he's doing (I think Thomas Keller qualifies) defying the rule with a cheese that is extremely mild such as mascarpone or cream cheese. But, I mean, lobster mac-n-cheese using a rich lobster broth and fontina cheese topped with a little white truffle oil??? Fontina is definitely a cheese that will end up giving a sour taste to seafood. And truffle oil on top of that? Could you even taste the lobster?!

                      1. re: lebelage

                        I'll bet you this mac n' cheese is made with a Mornay stile sauce. That was the forst thing that came to mind when I saw the original post.